CMH Heli-Hiking Bugaboo Lodge
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c/o Canadian Mountain Holidays, 217 Bear St. (mailing address)
Every guest's first view of the remote Bugaboo Lodge is from above, as you approach via helicopter. From that vantage point, the lodge appears as a mere speck surrounded by the breathtaking, roadless wilderness of British Columbia's rugged Purcell Mountains. Upon closer inspection, it's an extravagant base camp at the epicenter of some incredible alpine adventure. Before going inside, guests stall on the lodge's sprawling wooden decks to take in views of the nearby Bugaboo Glacier and the(+) More
Every guest's first view of the remote Bugaboo Lodge is from above, as you approach via helicopter. From that vantage point, the lodge appears as a mere speck surrounded by the breathtaking, roadless wilderness of British Columbia's rugged Purcell Mountains. Upon closer inspection, it's an extravagant base camp at the epicenter of some incredible alpine adventure. Before going inside, guests stall on the lodge's sprawling wooden decks to take in views of the nearby Bugaboo Glacier and the 10,450-foot Bugaboo Spire, part of the cathedral of rock that dominates the landscape.
Inside, the lodge has a cozy European feel, but doesn't lack dramatic details, including a huge, central fireplace encircled by oversized, enticing armchairs and a classy wood and stone lounge where stories of the day's adventures are swapped. In the great dining hall, long wooden tables encourage new friends to eat family-style. The stone needles of Marmolata Spire and Hound's Tooth fill the gigantic glass panes of the dining room, enticing the guests to get outside and explore. And for the little time you'll likely spend in them, all 35 of the lodge's newly-renovated rooms are bright and comfortable.
"The Bugaboos," as the lodge and surrounding terrain are commonly called, are the birthplace of heli-skiing and the stepping-off point for countless heli-hiking escapades. The remote area is a captivating panorama of cobalt lakes, lush alpine meadows crowded with wildflowers, clear creeks, and jagged granite spires piercing vast glacial blankets. Depending on the season, visitors can make turns through virgin powder or get their mountain goat on with over 100 guided hikes. (If visitors forgot to pack an item or want to try something new, the lodge also has an enviably well-stocked gear room.)
From December through March the lodge is open, the helicopter is humming, and epic ski runs await. Canadian Mountain Holidays, which operates in the Bugaboos, has several other heli-skiing lodges offering equally impressive terrain, but this region is a good choice for the diversity it offers to skiers of different abilities. There are innumerable runs both above and below treeline (Cannonbarrell and Kingsbury Pearl, to name a couple) and some incredible glacier crossings (Macarthy Glacier notable among them). All are carefully chosen amidst the area's mind-blowing monoliths and take just minutes to reach by your whirlybird from the lodge.
Sometime in late June the Bugaboos opens its doors again to the delight of summer heli-hikers, operating through mid-September. The lodge is nestled among fir trees at nearly a mile-high elevation. The helicopter takes you higher still for treks, rock climbing, or mountaineering from 6,000 to 9,000 feet. Hikers are divided by skill level to explore the glacier-sculpted landscape, traversing larch forests and windswept ridgelines on routes with names like Groovy Lake, Rooftop Ridge, and Chalice Creek, taking in views of cirques, tarns, meadows, and the Bugaboos' ancient rock cathedrals.
When it's time to return to the lodge, hearty snacks await. Before their gourmet dinner (which might include a rack of venison or vegetable strudel), guests can relax by a bonfire, in the steam room and sauna, or in the rooftop hot tub where contemplating the alpenglow is the perfect end to a brilliant day.
Heather Hansen is co-author of Disappearing Destinations: 37 Places in Peril and What Can Be Done to Help Save Them and has written for publications including Men's Journal, Outside, and Mother Jones.(-) Close
The Bugaboos got their name from a turn-of-the-20th-century gold hoax. The name alone is in part responsible for their iconic stature in the mountain world, though the credibility of this reputation cannot be doubted when one considers the stream of legendary climbers who, during the 1950s – 70s, sought first-ascents on many of these peaks. There is probably no comparably magnificent range with so few visitors in the whole of North America, if not the world.
Newly renovated Bugaboo Lodge sits about 1,600 metres (nearly a mile) high, with 35 rooms with private baths, a wood and stone bar-lounge, an expanded spa area with sauna, steam room, a games room, a handy shop, and a new rooftop hot tub with an extraordinary view. Unique to the Bugaboos, area manager Dave Cochrane has compiled a small interpretive museum of maps, pictures, natural history exhibits, and assorted fascinating Bugaboos memorabilia.