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Whitney Arnott
The Real Banff / Published: Thu, 04/12/2018 - 14:02

The Beginner's Guide to Heli-Hiking

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Hearing for the first time that I was going to accompany some experienced hikers on a heli-hiking trip left me with two emotions: extreme excitement mixed with a little bit of worry that I may not keep up. To my surprise, that is the beauty of a heli-hiking trip; depending on your group, you can cater your experience to your skill and comfort level.

Whitney Arnott

Arriving to the helipad the day of, I was overwhelmed with glee and anticipation, not only for my first ever ride in a helicopter, but also to experience this amazing destination from above. Flying over the Canadian Rockies is an experience like no other. You quickly realize your own size as you surpass treetops and scale mountaintops in mere minutes. The helicopter moved with ease over the peaks and dropped us off on the other side of a mountain range, a range that would have taken us several hours of hiking to summit.

Landing in a place where it felt like no one else had ever been was surreal. As we disembarked from the helicopter we were thankful for our choice of clothing: several layers as the temperature was cooler than takeoff, sturdy hiking boots, and no loose clothing that could be blown away by the rotating blades. And this is where the adventure of our choosing began. As a group of thrill-seekers and experienced adventurers we opted for the most challenging route, but knowing that this could be customized to any skill level left us with a sense of ease knowing we could quickly change paths.

Whitney Arnott

We descended into the valley’s meadow and due to its high altitude we saw a completely different vegetation than the base of the mountain. Small sparsely staggered “trees,” which barely broke a foot in height, large rock piles, and moss covered the alpine floor. Our guide offered insights into their growing conditions and spoke to the history of the Rocky Mountains, pointing out fossils that were once living creatures in the ocean bed that was previously here.

Coming up the other side of the valley offered another viewpoint of the mountain range. It was surprising to see how much your view could change within a few hours of hiking around. After a good few hours of exploring and learning about the Rockies it was time to call the helicopter back. We descended back to town with a new found sense of accomplishment having explored the rugged ridgeline.  

Whitney Arnott

 

How to Book

Book your own heli-hiking adventure through Rockies Heli, a locally owned company that bases their trips from Kananaskis or along the Icefields Parkway; Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH), the largest heli-ski operator in the world with multi-day trips guided by ACMG guides; White Mountain Adventures and Alpine Helicopters, for day trips guided by a local expert with add-on flightseeing options; or Canadian Rockies Alpine Hiking specializing in custom trips.

Depending on the trip you choose you can experience glaciers, peaks, alpine lakes, backcountry luxury lodges, wildlife, and waterfalls. Other adventures like heli-camping, heli-fishing, heli-yoga, heli-skiing, heli-weddings are also available. Inquire with individual companies for more information.   

Whitney Arnott