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.

attendance declining – USA National Parks

We’ve pooh-poohed the “doom and gloom” mongers in the past.

And we’ve even been part of the problem, criticizing drastic increases in National Park fees.

But perhaps this IS serious.

If the population does not want to visit National Parks, the Parks themselves will suffer most.

… attendance at Yosemite has dropped 17%, Death Valley at 28%, and camping and back-country trips are down 24% overall.

The Economist says “The importance of this decline can hardly be over-estimated for big environmental organisations such as the Sierra Club: they have depended on what one expert calls “a transcendent experience in nature”, usually in childhood, to gain new members and thus remain powerful lobbyists for environmental causes.”

No Child Left Inside: Economist on National Parks (TreeHugger)

What do you think?

Do we need to rally those who love the outdoors? Ask everyone to purchase an Annual National Parks pass in their country to support the outdoor cause?