Let’s say you want to explore the islands. So you go on a cruise. The ship is comfortable, but when you get to the islands, all you can do is look at them from the deck of the ship, or visit the port where a cruise ship can dock. For this reason, a cruise ship is more like a passenger jet, albeit a huge and luxurious one.
To really experience the islands, you need something smaller, more maneuverable, that can take you into the secluded bays, near the natural wonders of the islands, safely navigate shallow water, and land you on the most pristine beaches.
The best boat for exploring the islands is, without a doubt, the Zodiac. The rigid inflatable boat allows for safe passage in rough water, easy maneuverability to reach the trickiest beaches, no hull hanging into the water to hit ground, and powerful enough to get back to the ship against the tide or swell.
The helicopter is to the mountains what the Zodiac is to the seas. It gets you right where you want to be, easier than any other machine. All it needs to land safely is a space the size of the helicopter.
During CMH Summer Adventures, we use a twin-engine Bell 212 helicopter, called the safest helicopter ever made, each morning to transport you and your friends and guide to your destination for the day, and to return you to the lodge at the end of a great hike, climb, glacier trek, photography session, nap, picnic, or whatever is your ideal day in the mountains.
The ride isn’t like a cruise ship, but neither is it like a jet ski. Somewhere in between the two, the helicopter is designed to be the most versatile, maneuverable method of air transportation.
For many CMH guests, some of the highlights of the trip are the helicopter rides. The helicopter flies slow enough to really see the terrain as you pass by, and low enough that you are often just below the summits of the highest peaks while still above the glaciers and valleys.
This low-altitude perspective is truly a bird’s eye view. In an airplane you gain so much altitude so quickly that even the most striking geography looks flat. In a helicopter you fly along the valleys, looking up to see the summits, gazing into the forrest below where sometimes a moose or bear can be seen peering up at the strange mechanical bird.
The photographic perspective out the window is alone worth the price of admission and, surrounded by windows, every passenger in the helicopter gets a fantastic view. Make sure when you take photos from the helicopter (or a plane for that matter) that you remember the following techniques:
- Use a high shutter speed - ideally 1000 or faster - to compensate for the vibration of the machine.
- Put the camera near the window to minimize glare off the plexiglass.
- Don’t touch the window with the camera because the vibration is much greater when the camera is touching the machine.
- Turn off the flash when shooting out the window to avoid the reflection of the flash.
- Set up your camera before you get in the machine so you’ll be ready when the flight is underway.
- Use the flash when shooting your family or friends inside the machine - the bright mountain sun outside will trick your camera even if it is not pointed out the window.
During a 3-day CMH Summer Adventure, thanks to the helicopter, most of our guests will see more mountain splendor than they have in the rest of their lives put together.
That’s why a helicopter is the the Zodiac of the skies. Visit Hawaii and only use an airplane, and you’ll see Maui and some nice beaches. Visit Hawaii and take a tour with a Zodiac and you’ll see some the most pristine island destinations on the planet.
Visit Western Canada with a plane, bus or a car and you’ll see a few famous views. Visit Western Canada with CMH Summer Adventures and you’ll get a world-class tour of a sublime alpine world very few people have ever laid eyes upon.
Photography by Topher Donahue.