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Hiking the Canadian Rockies, with a helicopter head start.

Hiking the Canadian Rockies, with a helicopter head start

Krummholz, nunatak, and rock flour are terms that come to life when you hike to a subalpine island of dwarf vegetation (a krummholz), gaze at an isolated outcrop unscathed by a glacier's advance (a nunatak), or dabble your toes in an icy lake colored opaque turquoise by fine glacial silt (rock flour). Even the most casual hiker can take in such scenic standouts in the high Canadian Rockies on guided outings called heli-hikes.

Heli-hiking means you fly to dramatic drop-off points--from glacial icefields to stream-laced alpine meadows--for some hiking, nature exploring, and lunch before pickup and return by chopper.

If a summer visit to Vancouver's Expo 86 can include a side trip to the Rockies, consider spending a day or longer with one of a handful of companies offering such outings. If you like to fly and to hike through scenes of near-fantasy beauty, this is an exhilarating experience.

Prices listed--in U.S. dollars--are per person unless noted. All firms are in Alberta, area code 403.

Assiniboine Heli Tours, Box 6000, Canmore T0L 0M0; 678-5459.

Second heli-hike season runs from July through October. Day trip leaves Canmore heliport for drops near Banff: $250, with picnic lunch provided. Half-day trip drops your group at one locale for a picnic; you hike out on your own: $312 for up to three people.

Banff Heli Sports Ltd., Box 2326, Banff T0L 0C0; 678-4888.

Fifth season runs June through mid-October. Fly from Banff-area heliport: $50 including picnic for 2-hour trip, $150 for several-stop 4-hour trip. Overnights can be arranged at fly-in Naiset cabins. Fishing drop-offs: $70 half-day, $140 all day; guides available.

Canadian Mountain Holidays, Box 1660, Banff T0L 0C0; 762-4531.

Ninth season runs June into September, in conjunction with Tauck Tours (Box 2498, Banff; 762-5309). Fly from a B.C. heliport (110 road miles from Banff) to one of three mountain lodges, then chopper-shuttle to hike sites. All-expense prices: $460 for two full days, $690 for three, $1,090 for five.

Photo: They're lunching beside a tarn filled with meltwater from tongue of Vowell Glacier, still scouring the granite crags behind. Helicopter landing is meadow a short walk away

Photo: Well above timberline, hikers alight on frozen mantle and hunker down in anticipation of rotors' downdraft when chopper lifts off
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1986
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