WORDS BY DAN KOSTRZEWSK
There are some views on earth that are impossible to capture in words or pictures. The panorama from CMH Bugaboo Lodge is ranked as one such view.
Looming above the Bugaboo Lodge, that view of a million photos defines the location and creates a reflective atmosphere that captures guests when they land in the heart of one of Canada’s most storied sub-ranges. Pre-dating the formation of the Bugaboo Provincial Park, the lodge borders hallowed ground for alpinists of all stripes who make summer pilgrimages to the alpine playground to test themselves on some of North America’s most classic climbs. It’s a storied range with mystique and aura that powerfully draws you in.
The towering spires rival Yosemite in their vertical, granite grandeur—yet see only a fraction of the visitation due to difficult, rough-road-in access required if not on a CMH trip.
Inside or outside Bugaboo Provincial Park, the terrain is one of the world’s most impressive mountain venues whether climbing a classic, hiking from lodge-to-lodge or tackling a via ferrata. More than the giants and glaciers that loom out the windows, the aura of alpinism and dramatic setting creates a powerful undercurrent at the Bugaboo Lodge.
To capture the essence of that atmosphere—unique even within CMH— Tanya Steen describes what summer at her lodge feels like from the inside.
The View from Bugaboo Lodge
Let’s start with the view. Even for the tenured senior staff—who have spent their careers in Canada’s most spectacular mountain ranges—the view from the deck or the Adirondack chairs at the Bugaboo Lodge is transfixing. It shifts and changes with the weather, the mood and the shadows, rarely looking the same from one day to the next. One longtime Area Manager who likely took a million photos of the Spires would still drop everything to grab his camera when the light was too perfect to pass up.
“The first season of going out hiking at the Bugs, it was just incredible. I’d been working at the Gothics for five years but at the Bugs, you’re just in awe. There is something about being in that mountain range—the mountains are so close and right there,” says Steen. “Then when you’re at the lodge and looking out at the Spires, that view itself is incredible.”
The Energy of Bugaboo Lodge
A commonality in those who visit CMH is the existence of spirituality in our mountain souls. But it’s no metaphysical stretch to say that inside a place like Bugaboo Lodge the energy shifts when the stress and pressure of the city slowly falls away. Outside of cell range and far removed from a morning commute, the mountains become the focal point and something inside us all shifts. The pace slows down and gradually you ease in. It’s a powerful and personal feeling to be surrounded by big mountains that just make you feel small.
“Because of their absolute beauty and what the mountains give there is some sort of energy at the lodge that a lot of people find really cathartic and healing,” reflects Steen. “There is something about looking out your window and seeing those huge granite spires then just knowing that you’re going to head out there to some amazing terrain. It makes you focus more inward on yourself.”
The History Held Within Bugaboo Lodge
With a long lineage of Canadian alpinism and a deep mountain history, the Bugaboos have incredible stories to tell. One element that makes Bugaboo Lodge unique is a museum of local history, local climbing and the early days of CMH that is curated by one of our summer hiking guides. It’s easy to lose yourself learning about what makes this alpine epicentre such an important place for so many in our mountain communities and so many that have spent their careers guiding in the alpine.
“At the Bugs, every wall has history on it, whether it’s a painting by Lynne Gromar who was the first lodge manager and the wife of one of our founders—and is an amazing artist. And then you look down and there are these photos of Conrad Kain. It’s just a mix of present-day and past history—all the walls are lined,” explains Steen. “Sometimes you’ll just find guests or even longtime guides wandering around looking at the photos. You’re still very much linked to the past at the Bugaboos.”
Bugaboo Lodge is the Birthplace
When our founders conceived the idea of skiing and hiking utilizing a helicopter to access wilderness terrain, many thought they were nuts. But five decades later as CMH created an entire industry, a complete profession and evolved into one of the world’s foremost providers of wilderness luxury and mountain adventure, many revel in visiting the place where it all began to take shape in the Bugaboos.
“The Bugaboos are extremely special because regardless of whether it’s heli-hiking or heli-skiing, it’s the birthplace,” confirms Steen. “A lot of our guests love to bring their families to the one place in the world where it all started. Even though they might love other lodges, the Bugaboos just has that pull.”
Mountain Connection at Bugaboo Lodge
As with all of our lodges, the family-style environment is adopted from a European hut culture that encourages interaction and connection between guests and senior staff. Rare is the opportunity to share a drink or dinner with the experienced mountain guide who built your via ferrata or the long-time pilot who plucked you off the ridge. At the same time, sharing a day deep in these dramatic peaks makes instant friendships with kindred mountain souls from around the world. In a time of disconnection and division, that coming together is what we cherish most about the atmosphere of the Bugaboo Lodge.
“When people come up to the lodge it creates an even playing field and it takes away all the social expectations of what society puts on you,” summarizes Steen. “And we’re all out here to experience the mountains—and whether if it’s to sit and look at them or be out hiking or bagging peaks—whatever it might be for you it creates that place where we can come together and hopefully be more of ourselves than what the world allows us to be at times. I find that pretty special.”