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An Introvert's Guide To Small Group Adventure Travel

  
  
  

by Ellen Barone

You don’t have to travel solo or stay home just because you’re an introvert—if you take along this advice. (As for the insatiable wanderlust that may result? You're on your own.)

Small Group Adventure Travel

Some of my most memorable (and solitary) travel experiences – sea kayaking with whales in Alaska, trekking to Machu Picchu, Heli-Hiking in the Canadian Rockies, photographing lions in Africa, crossing the Moroccan Sahara by camel, and snorkeling with Galapagos sea lions – have occurred on small group adventure trips.

For me, guided adventures, especially in challenging destinations, offer all the benefits of independent travel with none of the hassles or risk. But as an introvert accustomed to spending much of my time alone, it can be a challenge to balance my need for silence and solitude within the extroverted dynamics of group travel.

If the idea of sharing your vacation with others is keeping you from booking the trip of a lifetime, here are four travel-tested suggestions to help you maintain your independence.

 1. Carve out time alone each day.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself enjoying the company of your travel companions more than you thought you would: Adventure travelers are a convivial, globetrotting tribe. To avoid social overload, however, be sure to carve out time alone each day. Hang back on a trail hike. Enjoy a solitary meal. Skip a planned excursion for some solo exploration. Tuck away in a quiet spot with a good book. Carry an iPod and earphones to tune-out as needed.

2. Splurge for your own room.

If you’re not traveling with a beloved who understands and respects your needs, most tour outfitters offer solo travelers the option of single accommodations. It may (or may not) cost more than sharing twin accommodations with another tour member of the same sex. But believe me, it’s worth it. I’ve gone the roommate route and regretted it every time, no matter how much I liked the person. Having time alone to recharge at the end of each day, or a private place to retreat to, is vital to maintaining balance.

3. Develop the art of being alone in a group.

As an Introvert, I am not shy or anti-social, nor do I dislike people: Quite the opposite. I have good social skills. I am a popular speaker and teacher. I love to meet new people and engage in long conversations about meaningful topics. But too much external stimulation exhausts me. So I’ve learned to pace myself with mini meditative moments. Whenever possible, I mentally disengage from life’s periphery long enough to be alone with my thoughts, to observe the world around me and within me. Try it. It’s a portable and soul-nourishing habit that’s as restorative at home or work as on the road.

4. You don’t have to do it all.

By design, adventure travel itineraries are action packed. Active exploration of our amazing planet is what it’s all about. One of the biggest challenges for introverts, however, can be balancing the need for downtime with the desire to do everything on the agenda. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to opt out when you need to or to suggest alternative ways to experience a place or activity that better suits your style. On a Galapagos cruise, for example, I set out with the group for an island hike as planned but arranged to spend the afternoon at an isolated beach to photograph and journal alone; easily reuniting with the others on the return leg of the hike. It’s been my experience that unless what you’re suggesting is unsafe or logistically impossible, most guides and trip managers are happy to accommodate any requests that will enhance your vacation.

What about you? How do you, or the introvert in your life, manage to stay balanced in an extroverted world? Use the comments box to tell us.

Ellen Barone is freelance journalist specializing in travel and frequent contributor to the Adventure blog. For the latest travel news, tips, and reviews, visit her website at EllenBarone.com.

Related Reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. A passionately argued and impressively researched book filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically society undervalues introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Listen to the author’s powerful Ted talk

Photo of the author enjoying some alone time while Heli-Hiking with CMH Summer Adventures.

CMH Glacier Treks - Join the new exploration

  
  
  

glacier trek bugaboosIn the most spectacular adventure travel destinations, sometimes the obvious hides behind the scenery.  This year, the CMH Bugaboos guides realized they were missing out on what is perhaps the most obvious, unique and valuable adventure in the Bugaboos: heli-supported glacier treks around, under, and among the world-famous Bugaboo Spires.

For decades now, the Bugaboos guides have been hiking around the edges of the Bugaboos spectacular glaciers while leading CMH Summer Adventures, climbing on the spires, and even unofficially tracking the recession of Vowell Glacier by placing cairns at the edge of the ice each season, but the CMH Glacier Trek in the Bugaboos is an entirely new exploration.

The guides’ decision to begin offering what could be the coolest adventure at CMH was in part due to their own desire to spend more time on the glaciers and among the massive spires - and in part due to changes in the world of adventure travel. 

“People are looking to do something a little bit different.” said Peter Macpherson, the CMH Bugaboos assistant manager.  The success of the via ferrata programs in both the Bugaboos and the Bobbie Burns shows how much people enjoy unique adventures in nature’s wildest environments, but the airy exposure of the via ferrata and the technical demands of alpine climbing are not for everyone. 

Glacier Treks add a thrilling, explorative, but technically easy element to CMH Summer Adventures in the from of a stunning all-day adventure that isn’t possible anywhere else in the world. 

When I spoke with Dave Cochrane, CMH Bugaboos area manager, about the new program, the excitement was obvious in his voice.  “You don’t need technical skills at all, but we’ll use ropes for parts of it to walk around crevasses and exposed places. It’s truly an adventure!” he said.  (Some routes will include easy rappels, controlled by the guides, to descend from one glacier to another.)

Depending on conditions, Glacier Trekkers may use crampons on their boots to give them better footing on the ice, and ice axes as walking sticks, but there will be no technical climbing involved. While you explore the heart of the Bugaboos, your guides will share their knowledge of the range's fascinating glaciology and geomorphology as well as the area's colourful human and climbing history.

Hiking through the Bugaboos Spires is something that has traditionally been the elite realm of technical rock climbers, but with CMH Glacier Treks, anyone with enough fitness for an all-day hike will be able to participate in the incredible experience of walking under kilometre-high pillars of vertical granite (like in the above photo with Pigeon Spire near the top of the Vowell Glacier), looking down into the mouths of ancient crevasses - and then returning by helicopter to the comforts of the Bugaboo Lodge for a massage, a spa, and an intimate gourmet dinner.

glacier treks equipment

The Bugaboo Provincial Park prohibits helicopters within the boundary of the park, so Glacier Trekkers will be lifted by helicopter from the Bugaboo Lodge to a starting point along the border of the Park, traverse various glacier systems lacing the spires within the Park during a full day adventure - including Vowell Glacier, Crescent Glacier, Cobalt Glacier, Bugaboo Glacier or Howser Glacier - and then finish with a helicopter pickup at a different location at the park boundary. This will make CMH Glacier Treks, while not technical, committing in terms of all-day endurance. Glacier Trekkers will need to be fit enough for the full day’s adventure without an early helicopter pick up as has been available for tired hikers while heli-hiking.

“Walking through the Bugaboo Spires,” mused Dave, “It’s pretty exciting to think about - there is nowhere else in the world you can do that!”

Photos by Topher Donahue

Summer 2012 is the inaugural season for CMH Glacier Treks. For more questions about the most exciting adventure at CMH, visit our website or contact CMH Reservations at 1-(800) 661-0252.

The Facebook drool tool - a summer adventure with CMH

  
  
  

If sharing your experiences online is part of your holiday, there is nothing quite like CMH Summer Adventures to get your social network drooling on their smartphones.  In three days with CMH you can share photos and experiences from a zipline across a raging river, a via ferrata along a knife-edge ridge, a glacier trek over ancient ice, hiking on the alpine tundra, and a comfortable, photogenic lodge deep within the Canadian wilderness.  Capturing the attention of your friends is virtually assured.

via ferrata bridge

Compare this to a cruise, where you are sharing an experience that everyone is familiar with;  you post some photos of the boat, the ocean, the accommodations, some islands - and your friends, regardless if they've ever been on a cruise or not, will say, “...seen that before.”

soft adventure glacier trek

During a CMH Summer Adventure, you’ll have the opportunity to share experiences that are as visually stunning and unique as an expedition to Mount Everest - but everyman's version with posh accommodations, a helicopter to help you spend the day in the most beautiful part of the mountains, and just the right amount of physical exertion tailored to your fitness level and desire.

zip line adventure

The CMH Lodges, while remote, are equipped with internet access, so daily updates are easy.  After a soak in the hot tub, taking in the view of the famous Bugaboo Spires, you can upload photos and stories from you day’s adventures and share with your world an experience that most people don’t realize even exists.

soft adventure hot tub

There is something authentic about the social media that comes from high quality experiential travel destinations.  And CMH, with 47 years of experience in providing world-class adventure travel experiences, is as authentic as it gets.  

summit soft adventure
At the end of the trip, you’ll have a collection of photographs and experiences with value that rivals half a dozen typical holiday trips, you’ll blow away your family and friends while you share the experience online, and you’ll return home with a full reboot of the most important thing: your self.

Photos by Andrea Johnson and Topher Donahue.

Heli-hiking: The ultimate sight-doing trip for Baby Boomers

  
  
  

baby boomer generation hikingAs generations go, the Baby Boomers have had a good one.

In 1957, there were 4.3 million people born in the USA - more than any year before or since.  They’ve been here for everything from the first ascent of Mt. Everest and the first steps on the Moon, to the digital revolution.  They've experienced a time of unprecedented global prosperity and their health has benefitted from modern medicine and the increased understanding of exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

Now, to top it off, many Baby Boomers are getting to retire. 

I must admit, I’m a bit jealous. World-class adventure travel is diverse, comfortable, and well-established.  From deluxe motorcycle tours of Europe, to luxurious adventures in Western Canada, the Baby Boomers are getting to quit the nine-to-five and dig into their bucket list at a time when the planet’s recreation opportunities have never been more accessible.

They’re calling it sight-doing - the way people prefer to travel these days.  Just standing and taking a photo isn’t enough anymore - you can get the same view on Google in a single click.  More people want to have experiences, do things, not just tick the box. 

And the Boomers are getting to go sight-doing at the best time ever. 

While documenting CMH Summer Adventures, I’ve had a chance to photograph people ranging from a couple in their 90s, to a family with 4 generations traveling together, to kid-friendly alpine adventures, to a lot of happy Baby Boomers sight-doing to their hearts content. 

baby boomer ultimate mountain vacation

The camera gives me lots of chances to see the gleam in people’s eyes, and from what I can tell through the camera, the Baby Boomer generation is a happy lot.  There is something in their eyes that says they made it to the finish line; and that it’s an exciting time to be alive. 

baby boomer technology

Heli-hiking. Guided Via Ferrata climbs. Custom and comfortable adventures in a rugged wilderness followed by a relaxing massage and spa.  These kinds of days didn’t even exist when the Baby Boomers were kids.  No wonder they always look so thrilled in the photos.

CMH Summer Adventures Announces Educational Speakers for summer hiking trips

  
  
  

With the success and popularity of last year’s Educational Speakers Series on several summer adventures, CMH has once again pulled together an outstanding line-up of keynote speakers to enrich and entertain our summer hiking guests.  Some of the most spectacular scenery known to man, challenging hikes, easy walks, mountaineering, gourmet mountain cuisine, comfy accommodations and now this speaker series come together to ensure a spectacular journey for both the body, mind and soul. 

 CMH Summer Adventures Speaker Series Wade DavisJuly 24-27, 2012: Heli-Hike in the breathtaking Bugaboo mountain range of Western Canada with National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis.  Davis, an anthropologist, botanist, photographer, author and poet and a “passionate defender of all life’s diversity” is a wonderful storyteller and will pique guests’ curiosity as they ramble amid the majestic Bugaboo Spires, where Davis spent time in his youth.  Back at the Bugaboo Lodge, he will give his acclaimed Massey Lectures presentation, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World
  • August 5 – 8, 2012: National Geographic Author and editor Marybeth Bond, a leading expert and advocate of women’s travel and author of 11 books, including the best-sellers 50 Best Girlfriends Getaways in North America, A Women’s World and Gutsy Women, leads this Heli-Hiking escape at CMH’s Bobbie’s Burns lodge.  Marybeth and her daughter share the story of the 3,114-mile bike ride they took in 2010 from San Francisco to New York for the National Osteoporosis Foundation.  This is an ideal setting for women to reconnect and have fun with those who have had a significant impact on their lives – be it a mother, godmother, aunt, sister, or friend. 
  • SOLD OUT: August 8 – 11, 2012: Adventurer and world traveler Brian Keating has led some 80 expeditions to some of the planet’s most wildlife-rich corners.  The host of the Discovery Channel’s Going Wild with Brian Keating joins his wife Dee to lead an entertaining (and sometimes hilarious) Family Adventure out of the Bobbie Burns Lodge for kids of all ages.  Brian and Dee are superb storytellers and their tall but true tales and evening video presentations are CMH Heli-Hiking highlights. 
  • CMH Summer Adventures Speakers Series, Eric LarsenAugust 26 – 29, 2012: Renowned polar explorer Eric Larsenreturns to CMH again this year for a story-rich escape in the Bugaboos.  Larsen, the first person to reach both the North and South poles and the summit of Everest in the span of a year, shares his harrowing and amusing tales with CMH guests.  Back at the lodge, Larsen will present Into the Heart of Cold – a bracing account of this epic expedition.
  • September 7 – 10, 2012: Join grizzly bear expert Michael Proctor in the Bugaboos for daily hikes and walks filled with ursine lore, as well as insights into his research with the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project.  A lively presentation back at the lodge will show how the team uses DNA as a tool to understand grizzly bear ecology.  Presented in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), 10% of the trip cost will go directly to the NCC for the protection of ecologically sensitive lands. 

The beauty of these CMH Summer Adventures is the added value - these trips don't cost a penny more to enjoy. Just book your space on one of these trip dates and you can hike, walk, climb, or amble along side these amazing and facinating keynote personalities.\

To learn more, contact CMH Reservations at 1.800.661.0252.

What’s the best age for mountain adventures?

  
  
  

It all depends who you ask. 

If you’re like the Canadian-American team that just removed a famous climbing route from Cerro Torre, one of the most beautiful mountains in the world (shown below) at the southern tip of South America, because a series of metal expansion bolts made it, in their opinion, too easy, you’d probably say that you need to be in your 20s and fit as an Olympian. 

cerro torre controversy

If you’re like the elder couple in their 90s, shown in this photo heli-hiking in Western Canada, you might say that the twilight of life is the best age for mountain adventures.  Modern access, lightweight and comfortable equipment, and world-class adventure travel programs make some of the most untouched alpine environments the perfect place to enjoy a quiet walk past some of the sweetest views on planet earth.

senior hiking adventure

If you’re like the family I met in the Bugaboos a couple of summers ago, who recruited the logistical wizardry of CMH Summer Adventures to get 4 generations of their family together for a summer holiday in the remote mountains of Western Canada, you probably have the best answer: anyone can do it.

Canadian Mountain Holidays is a perfect study of how the perceived optimal age for outdoor adventure has changed over the last half a decade:

family hiking adventure travel

  • In the 60s, CMH invented helicopter skiing and catered exclusively to the most adventurous, talented skiers in the world. 
  • In the 70s, CMH invented heli-hiking for groups of seniors looking for relaxing, yet inspiring tours in spectacular locations far from the busy, easily accessible tourist locations.  By using reliable twin engine jet helicopters for transportation from comfortable lodges into an alpine wonderland, everyone was able to enjoy a mountain adventure.
  • In the 80s, CMH diversified their summer program to include fit, younger hikers and couples who wanted to include difficult hikes with helicopter access to the heart of Western Canada’s rugged mountains. 
  • In the 90s, CMH responded to the growing popularity of mountaineering and led adventure travelers of all ages and abilities into technical terrain where ropes were used to keep them safe in case of a slip, and many people who never thought they’d want to climb a technical mountain stood safely on lofty summits thanks to the expertise of professional mountain guides

Most recently, in the new millennium, CMH Summer Adventures added Via Ferrata climbs, adventure trails, and a family program that includes professional youth educators to complete one of the most diverse adventure travel programs around.  In short, CMH has answered the question under no uncertain terms: every age is the right age for mountain adventures.

4 Fabulous Women-Only Heli-Hiking Trips with CMH Summer Adventures

  
  
  

We've always known that women are an adventurous bunch: extremely capable and committed to physically challenging themselves with unique and authentic experiences. We also know that while they love to get outside and stretch those muscles, building and maintaining meaningful connections with their girlfriends, sisters, mothers and daughters is equally important. Blend together those two elements with a cozy lodge, great food & wine and a whole lot of laughter and you've got yourself the perfect girlfriend getaway. CMH is pleased to unveil an expanded summer line-up of four fabulous Women-Only trips focusing on fun, mountain adventure and that all important shared sense of camaraderie.

jump for joy resized 600

NEW: Bodacious BOLD! in the Bobbie Burns (August 23-26, 2012). Join Margo Sutter and Cindy Pocza for “Core & Cork” in the Bobbie Burns. Climb the Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata and/or Heli-Hike in the inspiring Selkirk Mountains. Après hiking learn some core strengthening tips from Margo and Cindy, then celebrate your amazing day in the mountains with wine tasting at cocktail hour.

NEW: The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Getaway with Marybeth Bond (August 5-8, 2012). Award-winning National Geographic author and editor of 11 books including best sellers 50 Best Girlfriend Getaways in North America; A Woman’s World; and Gutsy Women, Marybeth Bond is America’s preeminent expert on women’s travel. Hosted by Marybeth and her own daughter, this getaway will be a celebration for all women-- mothers, aunts, sisters, and friends alike.

Bodacious in the Bugaboos - The Classic (August 17-20 and August 20-23, 2012). Back by popular demand, join trip hosts Ellen Slaughter and Angie Smith for epic and guided heli-hiking, ridiculous laughs, alpine inspired cocktails and invigorating yoga...and some special Bodacious surprises.

Stretch n' Stir - Yoga & Cooking  (August 23-26, 2012) This alpine experience mixes up yoga, cooking and heli-hiking in one over-the-top recipe. Escape with morning mind-body yoga with your personal instructor, Julie Sagan, followed by exhilarating days of heli-hiking and fresh mountain air. Return to the lodge for cooking lessons with the very saucy Chef Sandra Davis from Edmonton’s The Saucy Gourmet.

To learn more about this great options for reunions, birthday celebrations or just a great weekend away, check out this clip and give CMH Summer Adventures a call at 1.800.661.0252.

Why would you use a helicopter to go hiking?

  
  
  

It’s a good question, considering how much excellent hiking can be found in places like the Appalachian Mountains, the Rockies, the Sierras, the Alps, the Andes and other areas where cars, planes and trains provide easy access to the high country.

For me, after spending the better part of four decades as part of the mountaineering culture, a culture where helicopters and bush planes are commonly used to access some of the world’s ultimate climbing destinations, the concept of using a helicopter to access the world’s ultimate hiking destination makes perfect sense.

I’ve used helicopters to access world-class adventure travel destinations in the Alaska Range, the Canadian Rockies, the New Zealand Alps and the Himalaya.  The reason is simple: the helicopter gets you out there to places where few other people ever go, to places where you feel like you're visiting a different planet.

This photo, taken during a CMH Summer Adventure in the Columbia Mountains of Western Canada, shows the kind of world the helicopter allows you to experience: 

remote luxury hiking canada

It is nothing like hiking in the automobile-accessible areas of the Rockies, the the Alps or the Andes. 

It is a world where there are no trails that were not first formed by hooves and paws. 

It is a world where you and your friends can be the only human beings for as far as the eye can see in every direction. 

The CMH Summer Adventure differs in one significant way from the other aircraft-accessed mountain adventures I've experienced.  In the typical mountaineering use of helicopters and planes, we use the aircraft for a relatively long flight to a destination at the base of the mountain we want to climb, and then the aircraft leaves us for days or even weeks.  With CMH, the lodge locations, smack in the middle of the wilderness, makes the helicopter a reasonable tool for daily access. 

The helicopter flights during a CMH Summer Adventure range from less than 5 minutes, to about 15 minutes.  The combination of the short helicopter flights in and out of the high country and the wilderness lodge in the heart of the mountains, is the key to the unique and unforgettable CMH experience.  

The helicopter allows you to spend the day in this alpine wonderland, and then take a short flight to the comforts of an isolated luxury lodge for an evening of fantastic dining, a massage, a spa, and a glass of wine on a deck overlooking some of the most pristine wilderness in North America.  

So why use a helicopter?  Think of it as affordable space travel in your own backyard.  

4 Tips for Photographing Kids on Family Adventures

  
  
  

With four year old twins, an insatiable appetite for outdoor adventure, and a camera in my pocket most of the time, I’ve discovered a few key aspects of photographing kids to avoid burning them out on either outdoor adventure or having a photographer for a father - as well as getting better photos. 

photgraphing kids outdoors

One: Keep it with you!  This is the hardest one of all.  If you don’t have a camera, you’ll never get a good photo.  I get asked all the time, “Which camera should I buy?” and the answer I always give is, “The one you’ll carry with you.” 

These days point and shoot cameras are so good that I often leave my D-SLR at home when I’m just playing with the family.  Instead I stick a Canon S95 in my pocket.  The little camera is insanely good, and even has a ring on the lens that feels like an old-school aperture ring that appeals to my pro photographer tendencies, but can be customized for different purposes - or ignored in the auto setting if you don’t want to deal with it.  Even the newest iPhone sports an 8mp camera.  My stock agency, Aurora Photos, recently started accepting camera phone photos.  Sure, D-SLRs take better photos, but point and shoot photos are better than no photos at all. 

Two: Get down and turn on your flash.  Kids have big heads and are really short.  If you stand up to shoot, they end up looking like popsicles.  I take many shots of my kids without my even looking at the camera.  Instead holding the camera low while playing with them and shoot blind.  Sure, I get lots of poorly framed photos, but the ones that work are unposed, the kids are playing hard rather than making ridiculous faces at the camera, and they often don’t realize I’m even taking their photo.  The flash will add light to the shadowy areas and make the difference between an ok photo and a great photo.

family friendly hiking adventures

Three: Get outside.  Every chance you get.  This is the most important one of all.  Get out for both little local adventures as well as family-friendly adventure travel.  Not only will your kids suffer less of the nature deficit disorder that Richard Louv writes about, but you’ll have more chances to get photos with nice light, spectacular settings and happy kids.  My kids have graced the cover of the Patagonia catalog, but the vast majority of my kid photos have something wrong with them: boogers on the cheek, fashion chosen by a grumpy four year old, bed-head hairdos.  But it doesn’t matter.  These photos are for me and my family, not a photo editor or the fashion police. 

Four: Back them up.  Store your photos on duplicate hard drives, with an online photo service, or both.  If you’re leaving your family photos on your computer, or even on a single hard drive, you’re inviting disaster.  Hard drives are so cheap these days that there is no excuse for having only a single copy of your images.  I store a hard drive outside of my house so even if my house burns down I will still have my photos.

The ultimate trip for family adventure photography is a family adventure in Canada with CMH Summer Adventures.  Just imagine painless access to some of North Americas most beautiful and remote mountains with professionals taking care of the details...

The Wildest New Adventure in North America

  
  
  

Five years ago, the CMH Bobbie Burns guides changed the face of adventure travel in North America by installing the Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata (featured here in the Los Angeles Times). This year, they have established a new adventure that defies categorization and promises to rock the adventure travel world

ice bridge adventure hike

For a little insight, I fired a few questions at Bruce Howatt, the manager of CMH Bobbie Burns:

TD: You guys were visionary in putting in the Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata, but your new adventure is seems to be not really a via ferrata and not really a traditional hike.  Perhaps an "adrenaline hike" or something is a better description of it.  Can you briefly describe the adventure?

BH: You're right.  It isn't a via ferrata nor is it anywhere close to a traditional hike.  The trip is hiking, navigating wild canyons using bridges and rungs, ascending colourful rock slabs right next to waterfalls, zipline crossings, traversing rock walls next to a glacier and, coming soon, more climbing, waterfalls and hopefully some crevasse crossings.  All this is mixed into some of the most scenic, mind-blowing, wild mountain hiking you can imagine.  Blue glaciers, dark orange rock and bright green ponds are everywhere.

TD: What inspired you guys to start working on it?

BH: Two things inspired us.  The first was seeing how impactful the Via Ferrata was to many of our guests.  For many people the Via Ferrata was a far more meaningful experience than just a fun trip.   The other inspiration was that we wanted another adrenaline-ish adventure to fill our three-day trips with outlandish adventures.  We felt this needed to be in the wildest and most scenic place imaginable.  Doing something in the heart of the Conrad Icefield was the obvious choice.

If you observe a casual visitor to Banff National Park in most cases they would peer over the edges of Johnston Canyon, getting as close as they could.  They would walk up on the Athabasca Glacier as far as they felt safe, even peering over the edge of a small crevasse.  I think it is in our DNA as humans to explore.  It shows in how popular slot canyons, waterfalls and wild settings are becoming.  So it seemed natural, since we have access to such a crazy wild place, to go right into the heart of it.

climbing big waterfalls

TD:  How athletic do you need to be to do it?

BH: Right now a guest should have about the same fitness as for the Via Ferrata - physically fairly easy but quite exciting. Our idea is that we will have the option to go around some of the wilder sections.  Ultimately we would like to have the ability to take a wide range of guests and have alternate routes and different helicopter pickups.

TD:  Is there anything else in the world like this new adventure?

BH: I'm not sure, but I haven't heard of anything quite like this.  I don't know of any place on Earth where one could find a trip like this combined with North America’s fullest Via Ferrata, a two level ropes course, a zipline canyon and wild and beautiful hiking all from one lodge.  What I think is most unique is that there is something for almost everyone.  I love that a family or group can arrive and each person can find something that gives them exhilaration.  Guests don't need climbing experience prior to coming and although people who have climbed before have a great experience, it is all designed for anyone with an adventurous spirit.

bridge waterfall splash

TD:  How close do you get to those big waterfalls?  To the glacier?

BH: One gets pretty darn close :).  In fact at times you are pretty much in the waterfalls.  The water levels change radically with temperatures and amount of snow melt.  When the water is high we are right up close and personal and although we aren't in the waterfalls we are in the spray.  We have also made some alternate routes for those wanting to avoid this, although if this summer's guests are an example, everyone eagerly went the high adventure route.

We also get very close, (within a few meters) of the glaciers.  In the next stage we are hoping to also include a section of actual crevasse navigation like a safe version of the Khumbu Icefall on Mt. Everest.

lake glacier helicopter

TD: How is this a natural progression for exploring the rugged terrain in the Columbia Mountains?

BH: We have many guests who like the spice of adrenaline and like to challenge themselves and in combination with the Via Ferrata, the ropes course, the zipline canyon and the hiking we can provide an adrenaline-filled adventure for a full three day trip. 

Any readers out there who know of any adventure on planet earth even remotely like this one?

Photos of the new CMH adventure by CMH Bobbie Burns guides.  For a behind the scenes look at the building of this new adventure, check out this video from the Bobbie Burns.

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