When Hans Gmoser, the founder of Canadian Mountain Holidays, first arrived in Banff in the 1950s, he walked through town with a pack on his back, found a suitable patch of grass to pitch his tent, and went to sleep. In the morning Hans awoke to someone kicking his feet from outside the tent. After wriggling out of his sleeping bag, he found himself facing an irritated homeowner by the name of Elizabeth “Lizzie” von Rummel.
After kicking Hans out of his sleeping bag for sleeping on her lawn, Lizzie quickly realized Hans was a foreigner struggling to make it in Canada. Before Hans even finished packing his bags, she offered him a job assisting her with the operation of the alpine hut at Mt. Assiniboine.
It was there, below one of the world’s most beautiful mountains, where Hans learned the importance of mealtimes in the mountains - a philosophy that continues to this day in every CMH lodge. It is no coincidence that the biggest tables and biggest helicopters at CMH accomodate about the same number of people. The skiers who heliski together can dine together if they choose; thus carrying the skiing emotion throught the entire day and into friendships that reach beyond the holiday.
Lizzie’s guests didn’t just visit – it was their home for a week. The lodge was theirs and the hut keepers and fellow explorers were their family. After a big day in the mountains, mealtimes were family affairs, with mouthwatering plates of hot food brought to the tables to be dished out in front of the hungry climbers and skiers. After eating, everyone helped clear the tables before gathering around the wood stove to tell tales and build strong friendships as only crackling fires on cold nights can inspire.
Many things have changed since then, but CMH has held onto the belief that mealtimes in an intimate mountain lodge after a day of adventure are best eaten at tables big enough to accommodate a group of skiers - but small enough to allow common conversation and hearty laughter.
Sure, the skiing is where the friendships are born, but the CMH dinner table is where they mature. And sort of like a climber visiting basecamp even when he or she is too old to climb, some life-long heliskiers, when they can no longer ski, still return to CMH for the rest of the CMH experience. There is a lot of great skiing on this planet, but there is no hospitality company on earth that throws down the intimate, gourmet dining experience of CMH.
Do you have any CMH Dinner Table stories you'd like to share?
Photo of toasting to deep snow and fine friends in the CMH Gothics by Topher Donahue.