is heli-hiking cheating?

I’ve only done it twice — both times to Mt. Assiniboine — and can confirm riding the bird is … GREAT.

Sure I’m polluting the atmosphere. And distracting the teeny tiny hikers below, sweating the 8hr uphill slog with a full pack. (It takes me 8min.)

But on arrival it’s like you landed in Heaven. Fresh. Excited. Already at altitude.

Wow!

A little more thoughtful analysis from John Flinn in the San Francisco Chronicle arrives at the same conclusion:

I’ve known about heli-hiking for years, but stayed away until last fall because of three big concerns: Are the wilderness lodges a burden on the fragile alpine landscape? Do the frequent helicopter sorties spoil the solitude of those who walk into these mountains under their own power? And would I feel the same mountaintop exhilaration if I didn’t “earn” it through sweat equity?

In other words, is heli-hiking cheating?

By the end of my three-day stay, though, I was pretty much won over. Now my biggest concern is the cost: Unless you have the net worth of a CEO — and many guests do — the $700-a-day price puts it into the splurge-of-a-lifetime category.

Heli-hiking keeps high peaks within reach

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Happily for the environment I can rarely afford the high fee. You’ll normally find me sweating on the trail, cursing the lazy so-and-sos that chopper past overhead.

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