The Ultimate Guided Hiking Experience

CMH offers epic heli-hiking adventures that you will want to try this summer.

Photograph by Jesse Tamayo

Banff-based CMH is a giant in the world of heli-skiing, operating 12 B.C.-based lodges during the winter season. When the snow melts, things quiet down, but they don’t stop entirely, with summer heli-hiking adventures out of CMH Cariboos, Bugaboos and Bobbie Burns lodges. (Only Bobbie Burns and Bugaboos will be doing summer trips in 2021.)

While it’s common for backcountry hiking lodges to ferry guests in and out by helicopter at the start and end of a multi-day trip, CMH goes above and beyond that with additional daily heli flights from the lodges into surrounding alpine terrain. By eliminating the tedious approach hikes, CMH guests get to experience a wide range of sweeping views and geological wonders: striated walls of glacial ice, rushing waterfalls, mossy pools dotted with delicate wildflowers, clusters of ombré boulders, and ice-blue lakes that heartier hikers can jump into if they dare. Weather permitting, a strong hiking group and their designated ACMG-certified guides can be dropped into multiple alpine areas over the course of a single day.

If this sounds totally indulgent, well that’s the whole point. Hard-core mountaineering purists might scoff at the CMH model, what with the helicopter rides, cushy beds, gourmet meals, fully stocked bar staffed by an experienced bartender, hot tubs, massage therapists and so on. But those who don’t believe that you should have to suffer to reach the summit will find themselves fully in their element being shepherded around spectacular alpine zones they would never otherwise be able to access, outfitted in top-of-the-line hiking boots and outerwear that each CMH lodge has on hand for guests to use.

All three summer lodges also offer via ferrata adventures to willing and able guests. Perhaps the ultimate guided experience within the ultimate guided experience, via ferrata is essentially rock climbing aided by iron handholds, suspension bridges and ziplines. Yes, you’re harnessed into a system of cables to keep you from plunging to your death should you lose your footing, but even so, via ferrata is a true test of physical and psychological mettle, making you feel like you definitely earned that glass of rosé in the hot tub at the end of the day.

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Avenue’s writers and editors are occasionally invited to experience dining or adventure experiences as a guest, including some of the experiences in this story. Neither complimentary experiences nor advertising are required for coverage in Avenue. Neither companies that advertise nor those that provide other incentives are promised editorial coverage, nor do they have the opportunity to review or approve stories before publication.

This article appears in the March 2021 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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