Adventure Hiking and Climbing the Comfortable Way
TIP: Unless you both love roughing it, select a trip with comfort, great food and activities you both love.
During the peak of the wildflower season, we joined a group of hikers with Canadian Mountain Holiday (CMH). Our group ranged in age from 5 to 75 and the majority of us were women. Naturally we gravitated toward another mother-daughter team from North Carolina. We enjoyed eating, hiking and hot-tubbing together because they laughed so much. The trip was a high school graduation gift from the mom to her daughter who selected the CMH “Heli-hiking and Climbing”.
The trip began in Calgary, Alberta, where we headed northeast to a helicopter pad and a short fight into the Purcell Mountains. We were airlifted directly to a comfy, remote lodge, with sheets, down comforters, fresh fruit and vegetables, located in a pristine area far from roads, trails, or signs. Here you can hike to your heart’s content—your only neighbors an occasional grizzly bear, mountain goat, or marmot—and still end the day with a massage and glass of Pinot Noir.
We awoke each morning at the Bobbie Burns Lodge and indulged at a buffet laden with ripe raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, freshly baked breads, scones, muffins, home-made muesli, granola, Eggs Benedict and French toast.
After our first feast of many, we divided up into small groups and were whisked away to remote ridge tops and mountain lakes. We hiked as hard as we wanted, with experienced guides. Some flower aficionados strolled by streams and identified flowers.
“This was a different kind of pampering vacation. One I could get used to!”, Annalyse commented. “Absolutely, let’s go” she said when we were offered the chance to go mountain climbing on a fixed line, called a Via Ferrata.
Optional High Adrenaline Via Ferrata Mountain Climbing
Via Ferrata are vertical pathways with permanently fixed cables for safety and metal rung ladders to easier climbing.
The last day, a hardy group of us opted to go “mountaineering”, which means white-knuckled, adrenaline-pounding technical climbing up vertical peaks. We didn’t have to have previous climbing experience. Thanks to the support, encouragement and knowledge of our expert climbing guides, who ensured our safety, we rose to the challenge and made it to the summit.
The helicopter dropped us off near the base of the climb. We were a group of fifteen; several different families ranging in age from 14 to 64. Roped in we found hand and foot holds, and slowly made our way, one-foot-at-a-time to the summit, where we collapsed with dizzying drops in all directions and panoramic views of neighboring peaks and glaciers.And then we rappelled 150′ down to the base of the peak and glissaded (slid) down an ice field to the helicopter.
We both had moments of terror; climbing to the top of Mt. Nimbus, crossing the suspension bridge or rappelling down. The exhilaration and thrill of climbing surpassed even our wildest expectations. And then, we were whisked back to the lodge where we relaxed in the warm Jacuzzi as the sun set behind lush forests and jagged snow-capped mountains.
Heli-hiking is an awesome adventure for anyone who loves the outdoors, as any experienced traveler will tell you. It deepened our relationship and gave us a tapestry of mountain stories we tell over and over again.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact Canadian Mountain Holidays in Banff, Alberta, Canada to answer your questions about five wilderness lodges, guides, family trips, climbing, mountaineering and lodge-to-lodge hikes. 800-661-0252 www.canandianmountainholidays.com
About the Author: Marybeth Bond, the Gutsy Traveler, National Geographic author of 11 travel books, featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of the Online Travel Magazine www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to CNN, CNN Airport Network and CNN.com Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked two months across the USA, traveler to over 90 countries, media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.