Heli Tour in remote Canada is the trip of a lifetime

(CNN) – As the helicopter rushes over the landing site, the clouds part to reveal a blue bird day. From a distance, it’s all jagged peaks, crackling ice, and snowy glacial fields as far as the eye can see.

But then, after the 30-minute flight over dense forests and waterfall-covered canyons, the showtopper appears: a brilliant blue crescent-shaped lake.

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A 30-minute helicopter ride from Vancouver, British Columbia, deposits guests in a remote desert.

Nick drader

This remote section of the British Columbia countryside would be the group’s playground for the next four hours. A dream scene, in fact, and exactly what Virginia-based Ryan George and his five friends, from Virginia and California, had been anticipating for the past 14 months.

That’s how far they planned the dream excursion with Compass Heli Tours, an adventure provider based in Abbotsford, near Vancouver.

Now that it’s finally a reality, George feels a bit like James Bond arriving at a secret base camp to prepare for a clandestine mission.

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Compass Heli Tours is an adventure provider based in Abbotsford, near Vancouver.

Courtesy of Nick Drader.

“You can’t help but brag when you get out of a helicopter in such an epic place,” he says.

This area is so remote, in fact, that most lakes are unnamed.

Nick Drader, CEO of Compass Heli Tours, simply calls it paradise. And it is easy to see why. There is amazing beauty in all directions and there is not a soul in sight. The nearest road is miles away.

Shortly after arriving (George and three friends in a helicopter and two more friends in another helicopter), Drader unloads the equipment and gives a brief security talk. With that, kayaking and stand up paddle surf begins. The six friends immediately set out to explore the lake, captivated by the floating ice.

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Floating ice along the way is part of the kayaking adventure.

Nick drader

For a time they delight in hitting practice, using their paddles to hit snowballs on the riverbank.

“The texture of the submerged ice reminded me of submerged portions of Antarctic icebergs, only with clearer and brighter water,” says George. “The bottom of the lake looks out into the midnight blue in crevices, and the blue gradients in the middle make unrepeatable art.”

The water is approximately seven feet deep in most sections, but where the ice presses from the deepest part of the glacier it is approximately 40 feet deep. So as their kayak on the glacier closes, several of them strip down to their underwear and dive into the icy water.

Why? Why not?

Transformed into five-year-olds, their 40s are absorbing every facet around them.

“One of my friends said this was more epic than any of the days their children were born,” recalls George.

After the kayak, they head to another lake at a lower altitude. Here, they eat lunch on a sandbar, guarded on three sides by vertical mountains, and exchange adventure stories.

Dream job

All thanks to Drader, the brains behind Compass Heli Tours. In addition to being the CEO, he also serves as a pilot, chief photographer, and lead guide.

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The tour is not pet friendly, but the owner has allowed a special guest on the rare occasion.

Nick drader

“Most of my career was spent in the mountains, and that’s where I feel most at home flying,” he says.

Before launching this company, Drader worked solely to support sustainable forest practices and wildfire suppression for nine years. However, when the reforestation budget was cut, he was forced to leave the industry. In 2017, he launched Compass Heli Tours to be able to show people the great sights that had been treating him for so many years.

Her work days are spent kayaking on pristine lakes straight from a tourism brochure, photographing the best-of-life people who fly by waterfalls, which seem to flow straight out of the clouds thanks to the dramatic conditions. climatic.

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Owner’s work days are spent kayaking on pristine lakes directly from a tourism brochure; he says it is a dream job.

Courtesy of Nick Drader.

Drader even arranges escapes where the bride chooses the destination on a map, ensuring that no two ceremony locations are alike. Add to that the chance to see wild goats, bears and gluttons, and you’ll have a pretty epic working life on your hands.

“It is very possible that I have the best job in the world,” he says. “These remote locations have only been visited by a handful of adventure enthusiasts.”

Exclusivity is a big part of the appeal.

“It’s very quiet up there,” says George. “You can feel the stress melt away. Your heart returns to primal stillness.”

Virgin desert

For Brisbane-based Lisa Michele Burns, who toured in late May 2018, the main draw was being able to capture beauty on camera. As a photographer and editor of “The Wandering Lens” blog, it was a longtime dream to document meltwater lakes, which are created when temperatures begin to rise and ice melts.

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There are a total of ten unbelievably beautiful lakes on the license by owner and lead guide Nick Drader.

Nick drader

“The colors there are so worth looking at, that it’s really hard to take your eyes off the bright blue currents that are making their way around the lake,” she says. “Nick also took our group on a short snowy hike, allowing us to see it from above and at the same time have spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.”

Without artificial noises, the sound of crackling ice was music to his ears. Paddling at his own pace, gazing into the icy depths below, he floated slowly over the bubbles and pockets. He spent much of his time leaning over the kayak with his underwater camera taking split photos with blue skies above, as well as otherworldly shapes below.

“It is definitely an expensive day trip, but it is undoubtedly one of the best days I have spent outdoors,” she says.

Best time to go

Planning ahead for this trip is key. Every year, as the snow begins to melt from late May to early July, the lake takes on a beautiful shade of aquamarine. The ice begins to break around that time. And in August, icebergs fill the crescent like a river. By September, the lake is virtually ice-free and freezes again at the end of the month.

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For September, the lakes on the tour are mostly ice-free, taking on a different shade of teal.

Nick drader

“August is my favorite time on this lake because you can see the glacier,” says Drader. “In June, there is still three meters of snow covering the glacier, so guests have no idea it’s there. August is wildflower season, too, and there are plenty of those hiding in the harsh rocky environment exposed by the recoil from the ice. “

“I couldn’t breathe in the wonder, the beauty, and the good fortune,” says George. “It is not necessarily what you are doing but where you are doing it and how you got there. Throughout the millennia of human existence and the billions of people on the planet, we represent a pinprick of humanity to stand and walk and float where we were. “

Try it for yourself

The best part is that anyone with the most skills can do this – no previous kayaking or rowing experience is needed. You set your own pace and kayak as much or as little as you like.

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A 4-person heli-kayak tour costs $ 5,250 CAD and lasts four hours. The tours take place from June to September.

Nick drader

A 4-person heli-kayak tour costs $ 5,250 CAD ($ 3,821) and lasts four hours. The tours take place from June to September.

The Canadian border is still closed until at least July 21, so these tours are currently only available to Canadians. However, international travelers can make reservations for future trips.