Words by Morgan Dinsdale | Posted November 25, 2017
Some traditions are long held habits. Others are more sacred.
Living in the hustle and bustle of Dallas, Texas, Jeff Fearon and his family are immersed in the energy of big city life. While “Big D” is the home they love, for Jeff it’s the spaces less travelled that he wants most to share with his children. Jeff grew up bonding with his father on countless hikes to remote huts in the wilderness, and so his wish to pass-on his deep-rooted love for the beauty and freedom of nature to his twin daughters, Sabrina and Fiona, has become a passion.
“Giving them a taste of Mother Nature,” he says when speaking about connecting his daughters to the natural world he loves so dearly, “and fostering an appreciation for the outdoors that keeps them coming back for the rest of their lives, that would be the greatest gift I could give them.”
Living in a major metropolitan area, Jeff, a 20-year veteran of heli-skiing with CMH, believed it would be for his daughters to experience a remote mountain wilderness. “It was my hope that the magnificent scenery would inspire a lifelong connection to nature for them,” says Jeff. “I wanted to bring them to a place that was uniquely beautiful in summer. There’s a kaleidoscope of colours in the mountains during summer that simply overwhelms your eyes and spirit in ways hard to explain.”
Back in 2015, Jeff brought the entire family to CMH Bugaboo Lodge for a summer long weekend of adventure and a celebration of their grandmother’s 80th birthday. “Mom was hiking the meadows while the girls were having snowball fights with other kids at the lodge,” he says of their first trip. “It was incredible to see each generations doing amazing things all at one time.”
While it had been a great experience for everyone, it wasn’t long after that Jeff realized his work was not yet done. He and his wife were riding a gondola in Venice, Italy with their girls when he looked over at them, “They were buried in their cell phones,” he says, “and I realized I needed to rekindle the flame that the Bugaboos had ignited. I needed to bring my girls back to experience the magic of the wilderness, away from the distractions of modern life.”
So, now in 2017 and in their mid-teens, the girls returned with their dad to the beauty of CMH Bugaboos for their next adventure. Every day at the lodge Jeff, Fiona and Sabrina pushed their limits together, climbed jagged peaks, swam gleefully in almost frozen mountain lakes, and laughed constantly while playing in the surrounding wilderness.
It would be their experience on the Skyladder Via Ferrata that would bring them closer as a family, pushing their limits as individuals and plastering smiles of accomplishment and happiness across their faces. Around 50 meters from the start of their climb, Sabrina found herself overcome by fear, unsure she would be able to make it to the summit.
“Our guide, Francisco, was incredible,” recounts Jeff of their experience on the via ferrata. “He was able to reassure her for over three hours up this vertical rock face. He took a rope down and belayed her when she needed it and went above and beyond. It reminded me of why CMH’s guides and staff are so special. They are so jazzed to be up on those mountains and so willing and able to help you conquer your fears and teach you that you can do anything you set your mind to.”
When they reached the summit an immense sense of pride and happiness washed over Jeff. “When she summited, it was an amazing feeling for all of us,” he recalls with a lump in his throat, “there were moments where she thought she couldn’t do it and yet she conquered her uncertainty and her fears. Watching her stand proud, empowered, at the summit of this incredible mountain, looking out at the wilderness that stretched as far as we could see, that is something I know none of us will ever forget.”
Back at home, Jeff and his girls are planning their return to CMH next summer for more adventures across vast mountains, glaciers and alpine meadows. The girls are daydreaming of returning to the lodge as staff, experiencing the magic of life in the mountains daily.
“In the city when you do the same routine you don’t notice everything,” says Jeff, “Which is why bringing them to CMH in the summertime is so special, because when you go to such unique, staggeringly beautiful and special places you notice everything. Time slows down, you breathe in the mountain air and you realize, now you’re home.”
More on CMH Summer experiences here.