Words by Carolina Novotny | Posted March 24, 2017
Felicity Guest’s 50th birthday was a celebration the family is still talking about – a full year later. Even her ‘boys’, Nick and Tommy, who were 18 and 20 years old at the time, were keen to reminisce about their mom’s big five-oh festivities. You see, Felicity’s party plans were inspired by an episode of the Mercer Report. It showed Rick standing on the summit of Mt. Nimbus, at 2651m (8698’), on a CMH Summer trip.
“I was turning 50 and I was looking for something Canadian, epic and safe to do with my teenage boys – to show them mom still had some zip-and-go,” Felicity offers as explanation as to how the family ended up on the very same CMH adventure. “It was beyond my expectation by far.”
The family signed up to go on a multi-day heli-hiking trip to the Bobbie Burns Lodge in the Purcell Mountains, nestled deep in the BC interior. One of two backcountry lodges operated by CMH for summer experiences, trips run from three to six days in length, and since lodges are accessed by helicopter, exploring the alpine and glaciated landscapes with no crowds becomes a reality. But with the possibility of tackling a bit more adventure – in the form of a via ferrata, ziplines or glacier treks – each family member’s highlight seems to be what they least expected.
Felicity describes with obvious enthusiasm her favourite moment: summiting Mt. Nimbus; the very same moment shared by Rick Mercer in his clip. Summiting the peak is made possible for any novice thanks to an intricate via ferrata built by CMH guides. It consists of a system of metal rungs and safety cables built directly into the mountainside that lead you safely up the peak. Requiring no prior climbing experience, the system is so simple Felicity, who owns a small business with her husband Bill in Mississauga, Ontario, with no mountaineering experience, found herself easily atop her first summit.
“Being on top of the world, looking out… Looking at those Rockies and having climbed something I never thought I would be able to do in my lifetime was just incredible,” she says.
Her teenage son had a slightly different take after reaching the same summit, as the more adventurous members of the group could opt to repel down the side of the mountain. Nick literally jumped at the opportunity.
“It was like a 200 foot drop and then just flying down the side, taking in the views… It was a unique ending to that hike!”
Listening to Felicity and her two boys remembering their trip, it’s obvious it wasn’t just the beauty of the Columbia Mountains, of the natural environment that blew them away.
“In a way, it was a bit profound,” elaborates Felicity in her delicate British accent. “I came to Canada in my 20s and had my family in Canada. To have two boys heading into adulthood and to be able to show them something so spectacular and Canadian was quite phenomenal.”
What the family can’t seem to put into words is the camaraderie and bonding that occurred over the course of their trip.
“Our host at the beginning who picked us up told us, ‘You aren’t talking now but by the end of the trip, you guys are going to be best friends.’ He wasn’t joking,” elaborates Nick. “It was a really cool experience to meet all those people from different parts of the world and to really come together.”
His brother Tommy adds, “The underrated part of the trip was to have those really cool connections with the staff and other lodge visitors and to have that really close-knit, family-oriented atmosphere that was very evident in the lodge.”
“I was amazed. She did phenomenal. She did better than our dad,’ affirms Nick.
“Dad was the weak link in the group,” adds Tommy.
“And you can publish that,” adds Felicity with a laugh.
Learn more about CMH Summer experiences and the Mt Nimbus Via Ferrata here.