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6 Things I Forgot about Heli-Hiking


by Adventuretravelperson

Heli-Hiking, Things I'd forgottenWell, I didn’t exactly forget them, but they rushed back into my consciousness after my wife and I settled into a recent 6 day lodge-to-lodge Heli-Hike in the Bobbie Burns and the Bugaboos. (What follows may strike you as a mite praiseful, but, hey: I’ve been in the travel business for a long time, and I believe in celebrating excellence.)

1)CMH staff is a wonderful collection of humans. This really hits home for me when the lodge staff is introduced after the first dinner. Up they line, all healthy and young (if sometimes only in spirit), and they introduce themselves, and make charming little jokes, and I’m always impressed by their cheer and grace and high morale; I actually believe them when they say, “If there’s anything I can do for you [in the lodge, in the mountains, in the kitchen, in the helicopter, anywhere] please tell me.” You Canadians out there should be proud.

2)The helicopter experience is fun. And when the helicopter leaves, it’s gone. I’m struck each and every time by the keen, jazz-solo precision of the take offs and especially of the landings, and of the adventure of swooping over the Columbia Mountains’ dense forests and then up into the resplendent high country. (As an old backpacker, I always mentally chart a quick route up that marshy valley, through those steep forests, up to the ridge we land on, and I am--at my advancing age--relieved that I didn’t have to spend a few days of grumbly bushwacking to get to the magnificent timberline places we gracefully get to).

We set down with “all the delicacy of a falling leaf,” as one writer memorably put it, and then, zip, off goes the helicopter. I Heli-Hiked once with a helicopter skeptic, a guy who was concerned that his wilderness experience was going to be sullied by buzzing noise. We carefully counted a fleeting 25 seconds from the time the machine lifted off and it was out of sight and the many-million-year silence of the mountains resumed.

3)CMH guides are world-class. I wrote a blog a few months ago--based on 30-odd years of trek leading around the planet--about leadership and expertise and all the things that go into making a first-rate guide. But each time I Heli-Hike, I’m re-impressed by CMH’s cadre, not just because they’re knowledgable about their mountains; not just because they’re obviously competent, rain, shine, sleet, or snow; not just because they’re skilled at sharing their passion for the freedom of the hills. In the end, I’m immensely impressed by them because they get along so well and comfortably with the guests. They like people.

This blog is running a little long. I don’t want to try your patience,  so I think I’ll close and continue in awhile with a little more about CMH’s guides and the three other things about Heli-Hiking that I didn’t exactly forget, but was very pleased to learn again.

If you are a repeat heli-hiker (or Alpinist), what are the things that suddenly come rushing back to you when you get up to the lodge? Share them with us in the comments here.


All true...makes me want to go again! 
Posted @ Tuesday, August 30, 2011 6:53 AM by Deb bissen
My recent experience of first-time heli-hiking in the Bugaboos was simply overwhelning. I still am stuck on "cloud 9" and have difficulties trying to grapple for the right words to convey my feelings about it to all the people I talk to. After all, having a diagnosis of metastasized lung cancer, coupled with the inability to walk unaided, I am really supposed to lie in a hospice bed and quietly await my demise, instead of clambering into a helicopter to enjoy a glorious day above the tree line in the fantastic world of the granite spires in my beloved Bugaboo Mountains. Perhaps my name can explain some of the mysteries of the miraculous turn of events: Fate (and genetics, together with outstanding medical research) had given me a reprieve. Half a century ago, I had helped two fellow-Austrian mountain lovers, Hans Gmoser and Leo Grillmair (my ex-husband), to nurse the fledgling CMH company through its beginning years and I am happy to report thar its present superb staff continue the philosophy of my two best friends, namely to enable ordinary people to experience through heli-hiking the spiritually uplifting influence of the mountain world in relative safety and comfort. Even cripples like me can apply.  
Elfi Grillmair, Calgary, Alberta
Posted @ Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:37 PM by Elfi Grillmair
Elfi, thank you so much for your comments! I'm so pleased you had the chance to get out and experience the Bugaboos again with Dave, Peter and the crew there.
Posted @ Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:52 PM by Jane Carswell
Wow! seems have an wonderful experience to columbia mountain Jane. 
Posted @ Wednesday, September 07, 2011 10:47 AM by Paul Bikehike
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