WORDS BY ALISON JONES | MAY 24, 2018
At 6,000ft, mom, dad and three kids Jessica, Ethan, and Isaac look relaxed at the summit of Mt. Nimbus. Smiling, they face the camera for a photo as easily as if they were sat in the park at home in Seattle; the only difference being is that they’ve just climbed the longest via ferrata in North America. Perched here together, they’re enjoying the rewarding unobstructed views of the peaks and troughs of the mountain crests of British Columbia stretching out before them.
This vacation as a tightknit family of five is not one that was taken for granted. With Jessica and Ethan at college and Isaac soon to follow, time with each other all in one place is becoming more infrequent. It’s moments like these, experiencing and achieving something so unforgettable, is a memory that mom and dad, Julie and Jon, wanted to share.
Julie and Jon first visited CMH Bobbie Burns five years previously to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
“We wanted to do something special”, says Julie. “For years we’ve hiked in the mountains near our home in Washington, but when we read about CMH and heli-hiking, it was something different and grander – an adventurous outdoor experience in the beautiful Rockies paired with all the niceties of an upscale backcountry lodge, not to mention the helicopter aspect”.
Having enjoyed it so much in 2013, they decided to surprise their children by taking them on the same trip to create a host of lasting family stories.
“Whenever we go someplace amazing, I wish all the people I love could be there, too. Time spent together, especially traveling or doing something novel or exciting, are the memories that really stick.”
“The kids work so hard all year in school and are all going their separate ways as they go off to college one by one, we just wanted them to have a memorable time with each other that took them out in nature and away from books, computers, and labs”, notes Julie.
And that’s precisely what they did.
Having driven from Washington State on the stunning drive on Highway 1 through swathes of countryside to the private helipad in British Columbia, the family mindfully embarked on a journey to the remote wilderness removed from the hectic distractions of daily life. Catching the heli 50km into the deep natural beauty of glacier-capped peaks and plunging green valleys, Jon, Julie, Ethan, Isaac, and Jessica made CMH Bobbie Burns home for the next three days.
It’s here they spent the time they were coveting; walking side by side through the scenery, talking and taking in the views with each other and those in the group with them. Keen photographer Ethan always with a camera over his shoulder, his artistic eye continually working to find the most stunning angles for photos.
“From the pictures they had shown us, and how often they talked about in the past few years, I was pretty excited to go”, says Ethan about the adventure. “Mum and dad were careful not to spoil too much of the experience ahead of time”.
Having all chosen to climb both the Mt. Nimbus and Conrad Glacier via ferratas, Jessica, Ethan and Isaac were pleasantly surprised to find that their parents hadn’t told them too much about what it entailed.
“I loved climbing along the glacier during the via ferrata”, reminisces Jessica, “it seemed like something out of a movie, and I couldn’t believe I was actually climbing up a mountain with such a good view. It makes you really fall in love with the mountains all over again.”
When thinking back about the experience and its contrast to anything he’d ever done before, Isaac notes “Nothing I had ever done could compare to the adrenaline rush and unfathomable views I experienced while doing the via ferratas”.
“It was one of the most incredible outdoor experiences I’ve ever been on”, agrees Jessica. “Everything felt so remote and untouched. The mountains were rugged and beautiful, and we saw everything from craggy peaks to huge glaciers. Besides the outdoors part, getting picked up and dropped off by helicopter is a hiker’s dream come true.”
On the final day, the Perrin’s conquered the Conrad Glacier via ferrata. Climbing the final headwall as a team next to the magnificent towers of ice, the family were full of smiles and encouragement for one another.
They were close to begin with, but by the end of the trip, you could see the tangible connection they have.
As Isaac beautifully observes after the vacation, “It was an unforgettable experience, and one I got to share with my family”.
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To see more of Ethan Perrin’s work, check out his website.