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"Simply put, extraordinary trip. These guys are total pros, amazing pre-trip customer service and planning. Then you get there, and WOW!.."  Read more about Canadian Mountain Holidays on TripAdvisor

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Via Ferrata update: The Skyladder is complete

  
  
  

One of the things that makes CMH Summer Adventures so exciting, is that for 35 years now, the program has been evolving and has become one of the most diverse choices in the adventure travel world.  In recent years, the biggest changes have been the development of the via ferrate in the Bobbie Burns and the Bugaboos.

For 2012, there are exciting new adventures afoot in both lodges, with the yet unnamed, and mostly unknown, adventure hike alongside the Conrad Glacier icefall in the Bobbie Burns, and in the Bugaboos, the Skyladder via ferrata is now much longer, reaching to the valley floor, which allows hikers to integrate the via ferrata climb into scenic hikes both below and above the via ferrata. 

skyladder via ferrata point of viewDave Cochrane, the energetic CMH Bugaboos manager, took time away from a spectacular ski season to share the new flavors of the Skyladder:

"The "lower half" which we built last year is full-on very steep rock climbing on a ferrata route.  (Now, with the already spectacular summit section of the Skyladder that has been in place for a couple of seasons, the complete Skyladder is comparable to the world’s other popular Via Ferrata routes.)

But there are a lot of ways to skin the cat on this adventure. The nearest place we can land to start the Skyladder viaferrata, is more than a few steps away from the base of the route. It is about a half hour walk uphill to the beginning of the technical part of the climb.
 
There are many options to approach the via ferrata, depending on what our guests are looking for that day.  We sometimes land at the bottom pickup for the Powder Pig ski run and then walk up to the base - that makes for one to two hours of hiking through beautiful Larch forests, across very green and lush ground cover.  Then the forest ends and the terrain steepens for the last section before the via ferrata.  This approach is all uphill, but covers dramatically different terrain and makes for a very enjoyable way to start the climb.

We can also start on Grizzly Ridge, and then hike down to the base of the Skyladder.  I have also started on the top of Sauce Alley, walked a very adventurous ridge line route to Leo's line, then down over quite challenging hiking terrain then back up through a big talus slope to the base - this approach can take as much as three hours.

There are some other ways to do this also, so depending on the group we can make this a very full, very challenging, and very interesting day, which culminates in the Skyladder, followed by a half hour hike off the top to more easy hiking terrain with world-class views of the Bugaboo Spires.  Or we can make it an easy half day outing for those wanting less challenge but still want to climb the Skyladder."

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.

Best of 2011: 5 Top Blog Posts on The Adventure

  
  
  

With only a few days left in 2011, we thought we would take a look at the Top Blog Posts of 2011 from The Adventure. Drum-roll, please...

bestof2011 resized 600

1. Adventure seekers were obviously delighted by this article of hikes for only the most daring. Through videos and photos, Topher Donahue reviews The World's 5 Most Dangerous "Hikes".

2. Via Ferrata, or 'iron roads' have become the hottest thing since sliced bread for anyone looking for a amazing adventure vacation. Simply put, it makes ordinary people into mountaineers. With the popularity of the Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata at the Bobbie Burns Lodge, there were lots of requests for shorter trips, focused on the Via Ferrata. We listened! Find out how in "But I just want to do the Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata?"

3.  Just last week Topher Donahue caused a stir in the industry when musing about the possibility of using a helicopter to access remote bouldering areas. Read more in "Anyone want to be the first to go heli-bouldering in Canada?"

4. Are you considered bringing the family on a CMH Summer Adventure Family Vacation? Sue Arlidge, one of the Family Adventure Leaders, shares a few memories and gives you the inside scoop in "What REALLY Happens on a CMH Family Adventure?"

5. Adventure Rules! This year, the guides at the Bobbie Burns Lodge have established a new adventure that defies categorization and promises to rock the adventure travel world. In this invterview with Bruce Howatt, Area Manager at the Bobbie Burns Lodge, you can learn all about "The Wildest New Adventure in North America"

What was your favourite blog post of 2011? Is there something you'd like to learn more about? Suggestions for future blog posts? Let us know in the comments below.

All the best for 2012!

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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