Birthday Helicopter Tour!

Elevation: HIGH
Elevation Gain: LOTS
My Trips:
July 31 2012

Brianne has been boasting for months now that she had the PERFECT birthday present picked out for me. Talk about a build-up. As our planned week-long birthday backpacking trip to Skoki drew nearer, she informed me that I would receive my present on our way out. Mystery! Suspense! What could it be?! As we drove out west from Calgary, the skies were overcast and she seemed very concerned (with good reason I would find out shortly) about the weather. Fortunately, as we neared the mountains, the clouds began to lift and the sun began to shine! She provided detailed directions to my “birthday present” which I found at 91 Bow Valley Trail in Canmore…

Best birthday present ever?! A helicopter tour over the Rockies with Alpine Helicopters!

Getting the helicopters ready for us.

Our helicopter! We had to duck when we were climbing aboard in order to preserve my magnificent haircut...

What's better than a normal heli-tour? A private tour with the lovely Brianne! Thanks Boss; I love you!

I even got to sit in the cockpit!

Off the ground and heading straight for the Three Sisters.

Flying over the sharp cliffs of an outlier of Mount Lawrence Grassi en route to the Spray Lakes valley.

The sky reflected in the morning still of Spray Lake.

Heading towards the Goat Range with my Breezy Goat!

Flying over Mount Turbulent...fortunately the skies were smooth for us!

Beautiful remote tarns at the base of an unnamed summit between Cone Mountain and Mount Mercer.

Our guide expected us to be surprised to see snow and ice on July 31...I suppose normal people would be.

Terrorizing mountain goats with a low flyby! Thank God they're white...makes 'em easy to spot from above!

Banking steeply over spectacular Marvel Lake. Marvel Peak and Mount Gloria bracket evergreen Marvel Pass with pointy Mount Alcantara in the distance. Whenever the helicopter banked like this, it felt like an amusement park ride, only with better views!

The ultimate destination of our tour: Mouns Eon, Aye and Assiniboine (in the clouds) over Gloria Lake. Since we had backpacked into Assiniboine the previous summer, Brianne thought it would be cool to see the area again, this time from above.

A similarly amazing view to the one we witnessed from atop the Towers scramble a year earlier...only with a much shorter approach this time!

My other love Assiniboine playing hard to get.

Up close with Assiniboine's icy flank. You could say that she gave me the cold shoulder.

Flying low over Eon, Aye and their glorious glaciers.

Crevasse!

Modeling the ultimate in glacier appropriate footwear.

Brilliant blue seracs

Turning back towards the sun rise over Gloria and Marvel Lakes.

Marvel Pass was one of the few Assiniboine destinations that we didn't cover on our backpacking trip last year. Our helicopter was supposed to land here for 30 minutes but Alpine lost their license to do so shortly before our trip. :(

Mount Gloria.

Awesome views of remote backcountry peaks like pyramid-shaped Mount Alcantara. Say it with me (be sure to roll your r's): "AL-CAN-TA-RA"...it's fun!

Return flight over Spray Lake. The tour just seemed to fly be (pun intended).

Mount Nestor and Old Goat Mountain in the beautiful early morning light. Wind Pass obvious at the far end of Spray Lake.

Heading back towards the Three Sisters from the Spray valley side.

Winding down the tour with a Mount Lougheed flyover! Chris and I were lucky enough to be on the summit a few days earlier.

The terrifying looking cliffs of Lougheed I. A "climber's scramble" - no sh*t.

Finishing off our tour where we started it; heading to the Three Sisters beyond Mount Lougheed.

Back in the Bow Valley. Grotto Mountain straigh ahead.

A REALLY steep bank turn over the Bow. So much fun!

Finishing off with a stunning view of Canmore. Thank you so much to my beautiful girlfriend (soon to be fiance - more on that later) for the best birthday present ever! Now, let's get on with the peak bagging in Skoki!