Why CMH Heli Makes the Top of My List
CMH Heli is a helicopter company based in some of the most beautiful Canadian mountains with incredible lodges to accompany multi day trips. They are most famously known for their heli skiing but they also do summer hiking programs. I have wanted to work with them ever since I saw a friend working for them last summer and displaying the most mind blowing mountain vistas I have ever seen. It was a fate when they invited me on a FAM trip this summer right after the TMB. It was a short three day trip but I was happy to finally be able to photograph a place that was on my mind all year.
I came straight from the airport from Europe to Banff and arrived close to 1am. It was a lot of travel but I was glad my flights went over smoothly without delay. I stayed at the Moose Lodge before our morning departure. A nice hotel was the best after spending two weeks in small mountain huts with shared bunks. You learn to appreciate privacy and non-snoring after that.
We departed early in the morning to the Bugaboo Lodge, roughly a two hour drive and a helicopter was waiting to take us to the lodge from a heli pad. I did not sleep on the bus but probably should have. I also met up with a fellow photographer and instagramer Johan (@lebackpacker). We had only met online so it was a treat to have a friendly face around.
Flying into the bugaboo lodge is so memorizing. You come up through the valley and like a curtain the mountains open and reveal the most stunning view I have ever seen. The middle of the range is dominated by the Houndstooth mountain, because it resembles a tooth. Then a cascading bugaboo glacier runs down both sides framing the range.
The Bugaboo lodge is probably the nicest lodge I have ever stayed in. It had a massive lobby with windows opening up to the view. Then there is a room full of hiking boots, backpacks and gear that all hikers can get ready in. They even had baskets of chocolate bars lying around for the taking. Is there anything better than chocolate and mountains?
Our rooms were exceptional and I was tempted to have a sleep right at that point after all my days of travel. We had a flight to get on however, and you can sleep when you're dead.
Sadly our first flight was very overcast, meaning it was hard to photograph but still exceptional to see in real life. We landed one of the most scenic ridges in the entire park, but the clouds had captured the peaks from our sight. As a photographer these conditions worry me a bit. In a moody mountain range it can be overcast for weeks without a glimpse of a mountain. Luckily for us things changed over the next few days.
The lodge has so much history, mainly as Canada’s (and the world’s) first ever Heli- Ski operation. We were heli-hiking because it was summer but the lodge is best known for their skiing. The photos they have of the skiing look phenomenal and I would love to do it myself one day. For now, I’ll keep to the mountain climbing.
We had a lovely meals with many enjoyable people from the marketing industry. I met a wonderful lady named Heidi who was the head of Kootanney tourism. She gave me great recommendations on hikes and some lodges in the region. It was a warm and close atmosphere in the dining hall.