In 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.
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.