Canadian Heli-hiking

Family Seminar

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Fly by helicopter to breathtaking locales in British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains

Take on Mount Nimbus by way of the world’s longest via ferrata or “iron road”

Kick back in idyllic mountain hideaways, listening to lectures from Professor Rob Dunbar

Hike with expert wilderness guides past granite spires and immense glaciers

Faculty leader

Rob Dunbar

Rob Dunbar, whose research interests span Earth science, climate change, oceanography, glaciology and conservation science, heads a Stanford research group that works on past, present and future climate change as well as its impacts on oceanic environments and mountain belts around the globe. He works regularly with the U.S. government and the United Nations to help develop and implement solutions to environmental and resource problems.

Professor Dunbar led this program in 2001 and 2006, and he looks forward to returning and lecturing on the fascinating geologic history of the Canadian Rockies as well as the changes that are underway during our lifetimes, including dramatic warming, ecotone shifts and glacial melting. The “shake and bake” processes that created the spectacular landforms we will hike through have also produced clear case studies on how mountain belts—and their inhabitants—respond to environmental change. Our daily hikes offer a real back-to-the-future adventure!


July 7–15, 2021
Day 1

Calgary, Alberta, Canada / Banff

Arrive on independent flights to Calgary and transfer by coach to Banff, nestled in the heart of Canada’s first national park, Banff National Park. This evening enjoy a welcome reception at our legendary deluxe château/hotel, which has breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. FAIRMONT BANFF SPRINGS HOTEL

Day 2


Start the morning with breakfast and a lecture, followed by a half-day guided tour of Lake Louise, known as the crown jewel of the Canadian Rockies, and world-renowned Moraine Lake, both of which are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of their priceless natural beauty. You will have the opportunity to wander the shoreline at Lake Louise and see the Victoria Glacier and the famous Fairmont Château Lake Louise Hotel, then snap some shots of Moraine Lake in the beautiful Valley of the Ten Peaks. Return to Banff and enjoy the afternoon at leisure exploring our hotel and its surroundings or the town. FAIRMONT BANFF SPRINGS HOTEL (B)

Day 3

Banff / Bobbie Burns Lodge, Bugaboos, British Colombia

Depart Banff early this morning and travel westward along the shores of the Bow River, past the soaring mountain citadels of Banff National Park, through Yoho National Park, to Golden, British Columbia. Drive south through the Rocky Mountain Trench, with the Rockies to the east and the front ranges of the Columbia Mountains to the west. Board our helicopter and enjoy a short, scenic flight to our first lodge, where we are outfitted with all the equipment we’ll need for our hikes. Lunch is followed by a helicopter ride to a mountaintop, where we begin hiking. Fly back to our lodge for a relaxing evening and dinner. BOBBIE BURNS LODGE (B,L,D)

Day 4

Bobbie Burns Lodge

Enjoy a day of hiking with our expert mountain guides, who lead us to different scenic spots each day, depending on conditions and the interests of the group. One option today is to summit the challenging Mount Nimbus, climbing up metal rungs over two spires, traversing a suspension bridge 2,000 feet above the valley floor and climbing up the most extensive via ferrata (a fixed-steel-cable climbing route) in North America. Or opt to undertake the Conrad Glacier adventure hike, an ambitious yet rewarding experience that includes zip lining, crossing rivers over cabled bridges, navigating wild canyons, clipping into cables to maneuver around powerful waterfalls and ascending a colorful vertical rock slab by way of a via ferrata. Or perhaps a more leisurely walk sounds more appealing. At the end of the day, fly back to our warm, cozy lodge for beverages and snacks, followed by a delicious dinner with fellow hikers and guides. BOBBIE BURNS LODGE (B,L,D)

Day 5

Bobbie Burns Lodge

Enjoy a second day of hiking with our expert mountain guides. Choose from among the same options as day 3, depending on conditions and the interests of the group. At the end of the day, fly back to our warm, cozy lodge for beverages and snacks, followed by a delicious dinner with fellow hikers and guides. BOBBIE BURNS LODGE (B,L,D)

Day 6

Bobbie Burns Lodge / Bugaboos Lodge

Following breakfast at our lodge, take a helicopter ride to Grizzly Ridge, where we begin our all-day hike to the high country in the nearby Bugaboos Range, enjoying a picnic lunch along the way. Our luggage, which will be transferred separately to the Bugaboo Lodge, will be awaiting us in our rooms upon arrival. After dinner perhaps enjoy the warmth of the sauna, get vertical on the lodge’s climbing wall or get horizontal curling up with a book on a couch by the fire. BUGABOO LODGE (B,L,D)

Day 7

Bugaboos Lodge

Enjoy a day of heli-hiking geared to our desired levels of activity. The aptly named Skyladder Via Ferrata hike starts with a half-day vertical tour on a series of metal rungs permanently affixed to the rock, with cables running alongside to which we are clipped as we climb. The afternoon is spent hiking above deep valleys and gazing over dazzling blue-and-white glaciers. To get even closer to the glaciers, if conditions permit, try a glacier trek through a labyrinth of snow and ice,  using ropes, crampons, ice axes and harnesses. Despite the somewhat intimidating equipment, no training is needed to access this magical glacier world. Or opt for a more leisurely hike or walk, or remain at our comfortable lodge to relax on the lawn and bask in the sun, enjoying magnificent views of the surrounding glacier-covered peaks and the iconic Bugaboo spires. Whatever one’s level of ability or desired activity may be, an appropriate option will be available. Return to the lodge for drinks, snacks, dinner and the opportunity to share tales from the day’s adventures. BUGABOO LODGE (B,L,D)

Day 8

Bugaboos Lodge

Enjoy a second day of heli-hiking geared to our desired levels of activity. Choose from among the same options as day 6, depending on conditions and the interests of the group. Return to the lodge for a farewell reception and dinner together. BUGABOO LODGE (B,L,D)

Day 9

Bugaboo Lodge / Calgary, Alberta / U.S.

Following breakfast, take one last helicopter ride to meet our coach for the drive through Kootenay region and Banff National Park back to Calgary. Arrive at the airport and board early-evening flights back home. (B,L)

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Map of trip's locations
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Map of trip's ship

Our ship

Trip details

Group size / age

This trip is limited to 23 participants. Travel/Study is committed to providing a low-density experience on all programs and will implement protocols to do so, including social distancing on transportation as well as during lectures, meals and excursions.

Minimum age: 18 (siblings 15 years of age and older are also welcome)


$9,695 per person, double occupancy

$10,995 per person, single occupancy**

*Stanford Alumni Association nonmembers add $300 per person

**Single accommodations limited—please call for availability.


2 nights of deluxe hotel accommodations at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel · 6 nights of comfortable accommodations at our heli-hiking lodges · 5½ days of helicopter-assisted walking, hiking and climbing adventures · 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 6 dinners (light snack on drive from Banff to Bobbie Burns Lodge on 7/9;  box lunches on heli-hiking excursions and on our transfer to Calgary on 7/15) · Casual welcome and farewell receptions · Drinking water on hiking excursions (Note: Reusable water bottles and lunch boxes will be available for all guests to use.) · Half-day tour of Lake Louise · Gratuities to guides, drivers and pilots for all group activities· All tours and excursions as described in the itinerary · Use of hiking equipment: boots, insulated jackets, rain jackets, wind pants, daypacks and water bottles · Transfers and baggage handling on program arrival and departure days · On-tour quarantine-related trip-cancellation, -interruption and -delay insurance coverage · General medical, accident and evacuation insurance · Educational program with lecture series and predeparture materials, including an education resource list and travel information · Services of our professional tour manager to assist you throughout the program

Not included

Your personal flights to and from the program · Passport and visa fees · Immunization costs · Meals and beverages other than those specified as included · Independent and private transfers · Nonquarantine-related trip-cancellation, -interruption and -delay insurance coverage · Baggage insurance · Excess-baggage charges · Personal items such as internet access, telephone calls, laundry and gratuities for nongroup services

Air arrangements

Your personal flights to and from the program · Passport and visa fees · Immunization costs · Meals and beverages other than those specified as included · Independent and private transfers · Nonquarantine-related trip-cancellation, -interruption and -delay insurance coverage · Baggage insurance · Excess-baggage charges · Personal items such as internet access, telephone calls, laundry and gratuities for nongroup services

Room arrangements

What to expect

Our lodges are located in some of the most pristine wilderness of Canada’s western mountains, with breathtaking scenery and access to prime hiking terrain. A typical day at the lodges begins with a 30-minute optional stretch session, followed by a hearty breakfast. Top-quality hiking equipment, including boots, rain gear, walking sticks and daypacks, is provided by the lodges. After breakfast we gather our gear and a packed lunch and join our guides in preparation for the morning’s helicopter flight.  A team of highly experienced, fully qualified mountaineering and wilderness guides leads all our hikes, which take place at altitudes from 6,000 to 9,000 feet. The terrain covers a whole spectrum of mountain landscapes, including wildflower-carpeted meadows, icy glaciers, clear azure lakes and alpine forests. Hikers are divided into groups of approximately 10 to 11 people, according to interests and fitness levels, and the day is as leisurely or as strenuous as each group decides. We can accommodate all levels of interest and aptitude. We return to our lodges in the late afternoon for relaxation, a hearty snack, dinner and, on most nights, an evening lecture.

Both lodges feature comfortable accommodations with private bathrooms. Public facilities include a hot tub, sauna, pond, spacious lounge, well-stocked bar and dining area where hearty, delicious meals are served family-style so guests and guides can gather around the table and share stories from the day’s adventures.

Anyone may participate in the easier walks and strolls. In order to participate in the more intense hiking and climbing adventures, you should be able to jog a mile, walk four miles, ride a bike for eight miles or complete a similarly strenuous workout. The via ferratas (a corruption of the Italian for “iron roads”) are vertical pathways featuring permanently fixed cables that provide safety and metal-rung ladders that make climbing easy. The via ferratas require no special skill or prior experience; if you are physically fit and can climb a ladder, you can do it.

Ecologically sensitive practices and safety are top priorities during heli-hiking. Our Bell 212 helicopters seat 11 passengers and are flown by pilots with extensive experience (often more than 20 years) and outstanding safety records. Landing sites have been scouted over numerous seasons and are chosen for their safety and access to beautiful areas. All guests are given a full helicopter safety briefing before our first flight. You must be able, active and physically fit to participate in this program. We welcome families with at least one child 18 years of age or older. Siblings 15 years of age and older are also welcome.

Request information

This program is still in development. Dates are subject to change and details on trip costs are not yet available. Submit your request to be among the first to receive notification when final details are available. At that time, you will have the opportunity to place a deposit, ahead of our general audience.


Get started

If you’re ready to reserve your trip, click on the “reserve” button below to place a deposit. Please note: you’ll need to log into your Stanford Alumni Association account to complete the transaction. You do not need to be a Stanford Alumni Association member or an alum to create an account.

Questions? Call the Travel/Study office at (650) 725-1093.


Contact us

For all other inquiries, complete the form below or email us at and a Travel/Study associate will contact you within one to two business days.

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Stanford Travel/Study Terms and Conditions


We encourage membership in the Stanford Alumni Association as the program cost for nonmembers is $300 more than the members' price. A person traveling as a guest paid for by a current member will not be charged the nonmember fee. To purchase a membership, call (650) 725-0692 or visit for more information.

Deposits, Payments and Cancellations

A $1,000 deposit is required to reserve space. Deposits and any payments are fully refundable until 90 days prior to departure. After that date, refunds can be made only if the program is sold out and your place(s) is resold, in which case a $1,000-per-person cancellation fee will apply.


Stanford Travel/Study provides all travelers who are U.S. or Canadian citizens with minimal medical, accident and evacuation coverage, as well as on-tour quarantine-related trip-cancellation, -interruption and -delay insurance coverage, under our group-travel insurance policy. Our group policy is intended to provide minimal levels of protection while you are traveling on this program. You may choose to subscribe to optional nonquarantine-related trip-cancellation, -interruption and -delay insurance coverage and/or baggage insurance. Information offering such insurance will be included in your confirmation materials. The product offered includes special benefits if you purchase your insurance within 14 days of receiving your welcome email.


The Stanford Alumni Association, Stanford University and our operators act only as agents for the passenger with respect to transportation and ship arrangements and exercise every care possible in doing so. However, we can assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity in connection with the service of any automobile, motorcoach, launch or any other conveyance used in carrying out this program or for the acts or defaults of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the program. We cannot accept any responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine, force majeure or other causes beyond our control. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger as tour rates include arrangements only for the time stated. We reserve the right to make such alterations to this published itinerary as may be deemed necessary. The right is reserved to cancel any program prior to departure in which case the entire payment will be refunded without further obligation on our part. The right is also reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the program. No refund will be made for an unused portion of any tour unless arrangements are made in sufficient time to avoid penalties. Baggage is carried at the owner's risk entirely. It is understood that the ship's ticket, when issued, shall constitute the sole contract between the passenger and the cruise company. The airlines concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time passengers are not on board their plane or conveyance. Neither the Stanford Alumni Association, Stanford University nor our operators accept liability for any carrier's cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable ticket in connection with the tour. Program price is based on rates in effect at the time the brochure is published and is subject to change without notice to reflect fluctuations in exchange rates, tariffs or fuel charges. As a condition of participation, all confirmed participants are required to sign an Assumption of Risk.

California Seller of Travel Program Registration #2048 523-50

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