An Intro to Heli-Hiking

Roving, ,

Pushing myself up the re-bar rungs, I straddle the top of a narrow rock spire and survey the snow-spattered mountains that rumple the earth in every direction.  Somewhere out there is a flat patch of ground big enough for our helicopter to alight and sweep us back to our remote lodge, but first things first.  Swinging my other leg over, I descend toward the 200-foot rope bridge that sways over the gap to the final peak of Mount Nimbus.

This is all part of a normal summer’s day at CMH Bobbie Burns, but it leaves me awestruck and continually wondering, “How am I even here?”

The Backstory

It all started last year, when perusing a map of Canada.  In southwestern BC, I spot a little mountain range with a charming moniker: the Bugaboos.  An image search brings up the Mount Nimbus via ferrata, part of the broader Purcell Mountains.  The thirst is real.

For the uninitiated, via ferrata translates to “iron road”, an Italian invention whose popularity hasn’t caught on much beyond Europe.  The system of fixed cables, iron rungs, and other aids once helped troops move through the mountains in the first World War and now lets hikers scale sheer heights without technical climbing ability.

I tell my coworker Russ about this discovery, since we once watched a cheesy French horror movie, High Lane, featuring some youth, a via ferrata, and a homicidal hermit.  Even though Russ can handily climb things without the assistance of rungs, he’s also captivated by the thought of tackling a via ferrata.

With some research we find that the area is only accessible through a program offered by Canadian Mountain Holidays, the founders of heli-skiing in the 60s who have since expanded their offerings to heli-hiking in the summer.  I hem and haw over the price – the word “heli-hiking” has an over-the-top, hoighty-toighty overtone – but the favorable exchange rate and my otherwise cheapskate living means I can afford it.

In the process of looking up the Nimbus ferrata, I unknowingly type the word “bugaboo” into the title of the team OneNote (shared among hundreds of people) instead of the URL bar.

There it remains for several weeks until I spot it with that dizzying, sinking feeling that accompanies an “I f’ed up” moment.  Fortunately, no one seemed to notice, though it will live on in the edit history with my name attached.  The mythical status of the Bugaboos is growing by the day.

I finally cave (though we couldn’t convince any other friends to splurge), and just like that we’re booked for High Flying Adventures at the Bobbie Burns Lodge.

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