I never thought I would hear these words in my life; we are initiating a mountain extraction on a bike path in Lake Louise.

I started writing about emergency travel insurance for Canadian credit card holders, for exactly this reason. You will need it when you least expect it. When I needed to use it, I was woefully unprepared.

Six months after our experience in Whistler, we found ourselves in arguably one of the prettiest spots in the world.

a landscape with mountains and trees

Fairmont Lake Louise

Checking into the Fairmont Lake Louise had been a distant luxury. That day, I felt extremely privileged to be able to stay at the most iconic hotel in the area. It has been part of my travel hacking goal for many years, and I know the sweat it took to get to this hotel.

To start the day, I had booked an e-bike ride for 2 people. I intended on taking me and my brother for the bike ride, giving my parents a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful hotel.

Change of plans during lunch

As we settled for lunch, my brother got an urgent work call to attend. Having already paid for 2 people, I asked my mum if she wanted to join instead. She shared that she is not comfortable biking. Her last biking experience was in Maldives, however, we both agreed, once she has momentum, it is quite easy to ride a bike. Both of us thought gaining momentum will be quite easy on an electric bike. I gave her the confidence she could ride the bike. She agreed.

We went to the bike shop shortly after lunch.

Biking in Lake Louise

I am going to pre-face this by saying, in my experience, the worst accidents happen while you were trying to save a bit of money. My mistake this time, saving $79. Probably one of the most expensive $79 in my life.

a row of bicycles in a store

The fateful bikes of that day.

When we left the bike parking, my mother was struggling. But as we expected, when she got momentum, everything was fine.

As we were cycling, on the road, things while a bit shaky, appeared to be normal. I will say, at this point in time, for the first time I felt I should tell the Lake Louise Tour Guide that my mother should return home. But to save the embarrassment of cycling back and cycling there, I avoided that conversation. My mum also felt the same way, she later told me, but she trusted my advice, and didn’t raise the issue either.

We went from driving on the road to a trail instead.

Biking on a trail

Knowing my mum was struggling a little, I made sure I biked behind her. She made multiple attempts to let me pass, but I avoided every single attempt. I was going to bike behind her. If there was any issue, especially in bear country, I wanted to be with her rather than away from her.

A few minutes in, I see a slightly bigger rock on the road. I believe best practice is to just cycle over the rock, trusting your bike. Unfortunately, my mother did not have the trust. She tried to cycle around the rock.

And a moment later, she was on the ground and not responding to my words.

Uh Oh

One thing I learnt during a medical emergency is to never stop talking to the patient and always talk positive. Hearing is the last skill to go, and many times, people might appear to be unconscious, but they can still hear. The other thing I’ve learnt is, never move your body without the presence of a trained medical profession in the event of an injury.

The moment she fell down, this is what was exchanged:

Me: Are you okay?

No response

Me: Are you okay?

No response

Me: Okay, I want you to know, I am standing right here. I am going to first shout for the Fairmont Lake Louise tour guide to see if he returns. If not, I am going to call my brother over. I am going to get dad to the closest road to get you back to the room as soon as possible. But do not worry. I am right here. You will be okay.

At the top of my voice, I cry for help, and no response.

I then immediately call my brother, asking him to run to the GPS co-ordinates I just sent.

I ask my father to come to the closest road to the GPS co-ordinates. I also ask him to call Fairmont concierge to get the bike tour guide on the call and ask him to return to us for help.

By this time, my mum is responding to me, but she is in extreme pain. I ask her to stay in the same position until we get some medical assistance.

About 3 minutes later, I see the Fairmont Lake Louise bike guide tour cycling back. At that moment, he knew something serious had just happened.

Does not look like a major issue

Me and the Fairmont tour guide agreed that it is likely a bad sprain. We remove the cycle from underneath her. And we agree we would lift her up to get her standing.

We lift her up, and at that moment, my mother starts making it very clear she can’t stand on her leg. She asks us to put her down gently and don’t leave her balancing.

We place her back down gently.

In about 2 more minutes, my brother comes running over.

At this point in time, my brother takes over communication with my mother. I asked him to keep talking with mum, and joke around with her.

His first joke: I don’t know what Moli does to you. But every time you travel with him, something happens. Time to come back to India. Clearly your younger son can’t take care of you.

Calling 911

I ask the tour guide, what next? Can we call 911? I would definitely like to go to the hospital now to get her checked out. He says, not to worry and makes the following three calls in order of priority:

  • Calling 911 to let them know where we are. They immediately call for help to get to where we are.
  • The next call goes to the head of Fairmont security. She also works in the fire department. As soon as she receives the call, she dons her safety vests and drives over to the closest road to the fall location. She then runs to the accident spot.
  • His boss. He asks for a replacement, so the third guest can continue with the tour.

911 response time seemed like an eternity. But in about 5 minutes, the Fairmont Head of Security comes in. 5 more minutes, the fire department come in with Parks Canada staff. Together they do an assessment and determine it’s probably a bad sprain.

Mountain Extraction from the trail

The fire department work in tandem to get her on a make-shift stretcher. Good enough for the journey down.

a group of people walking on a path in the woods

I don’t remember why, but I recall me running to the end of the trail and running back repeatedly to check on something.

As we exit the trail onto the main road, the ambulance just reached, and transferred her onto the ambulance stretcher and took her inside. At that time, the paramedics asked for our relationship, but then clarified, that they would like to speak to my mother separately.

On the other side, the Fairmont Lake Louise let Parks Canada know that my father would be driving in, and to allow him access to the non-public road.

Journey back to the hotel

Even the paramedic assessment was, maybe a bad sprain, but nothing too serious.

My brother goes into the ambulance. The tour guide takes my mother’s bike. I take my own bike and we cycle back to the hotel.

It goes without saying, that was a very long cycle ride. My brother is with my mother and giving us constant updates. By this time, my mum has had some significant dose of painkillers so although tired, she is in a very good mood.

I won’t go into the next steps in great detail, except, after some scans, she was immediately rushed to Calgary for a deeper investigation.

Cutting my stay short at the Fairmont Lake Louise

I reach the hotel, immediately request for duty manager and explain what just happened. I ask him if it is possible to check-out today or tomorrow.

Right away, he says, I have to charge you for one night, and then you can check-out tomorrow. That sounded like a great alternative. He also let me know to head over to the room, and he will work with the concierge to cancel all the other activities we had booked for the stay.

Me and my father determine that we going to Calgary won’t serve a big purpose, and instead we will drive in tomorrow. We valet the vehicle, and head back to the room in somewhat of a dejected state. Rest assured, I don’t think any one of us got sleep that night.


In the evening of the incident, I took these pictures:

a rocky shore of a lake with a mountain in the background

It was surreal to see so few visitors at Lake Louise


a body of water with mountains in the background with Lake Louise in the background

Lake Louise, all to myself

It was a somber reminder, what started off as a vacation of our lifetime, ended up with my mother in hospital, my brother on a hospital chair by her bedside, and me and my father, feeling ever so slightly helpless as we wait for any further information from the hospital.

Overall, my mother made a quick recovery, with the support of some great hospitality by kind strangers in Calgary who made sure my entire family did not go hungry, cooking and getting us delicious Indian food during our entire stay in Calgary.

Once again, the Fairmont staff, helped us beyond our wildest imaginations, and we will be forever grateful to their assistance. Not just the Fairmont staff, but everyone we encountered in Calgary as well.