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Rick Mercer: Tackling Canadians' Bucket Lists, Every Week on the Mercer Report

Rick Mercer will take you to the top of B.C.'s Mount Nimbus in the Season 11 premiere of the Rick Mercer Report. Watch it on CBC October 8 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT). --CBC

Over 10 seasons, Rick Mercer has run the Kananaskis rapids, zip-lined over Petty Harbour, snorkelled with B.C. salmon. (He also swam with Bob Rae, albeit in slightly different circumstances.) And every episode of the Rick Mercer Report brings a new story of the Canadian experience. Often an x-treme experience -- like Mercer's favourite bit from the show's run, a bungee jumping stunt over Whistler's Cheakamus River with "Man in Motion" Rick Hansen.

That segment "had all the elements," Mercer tells CBC Live. "It had Rick Hansen, who's a great Canadian, but he's also a personal hero of mine. We had some great action. (Not only bungee jumping but a guy in a wheelchair bungee jumping.) And it was in a tremendously beautiful part of the country that we got to show the rest of the country."

Mercer Report producers bear that trifecta of awesome in mind before they ship their star to Victoria or Montreal or High River. And new adventures begin October 8 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC with a fresh season of the show.

Here, Mercer teases the premiere episode's journey to the summit of B.C.'s Mount Nimbus, and reveals what it takes to get him 9,000 feet above sea level.

The trailer for the new season of the Rick Mercer Report seems to be split between scenes of you hanging out with animals - or shots of you risking your life.

Rick Mercer: Well, there are a few prime ministers in between, and a few fishermen and farmers and community events and you know, students, and colleges. When I'm talking to anyone, no matter where they are in the country, they say, 'Are you going to ever come to my town?' Well, the answer is yes. Eventually. Eventually I'll end up everywhere.

How does the show decide where to send you then?

RM: It's a combination. I mean, a lot of the ideas come from viewers who write into the show and say 'you should check this out,' like Mount Nimbus did. And of course we're always looking.

Mount Nimbus in B.C. That's where you go in this season's first episode?

RM: Yes, I'll be climbing Mount Nimbus.

What can you tell me about that experience?

RM: Well, it's a heli-hiking adventure, so you get in a helicopter and you fly into a mountain range and you land at about 7,000 feet above sea level and then you climb 2,000 feet up to the summit of Mount Nimbus. And so there are ledges with 1,500-foot drops below you, there are sections where you're climbing, essentially, straight up. Incredible panoramas, beautiful mountains. It's stunning. Unlike anything I've ever done.

And you went because a viewer suggested it. What about their pitch really sold you? What did they send?

RM: Actually, all they sent was a picture. And in the picture there was a little arrow. And the guy said 'I can get you to this point.' And it was the very peak of this mountain and it just looked like the perfect thing to do.

It's just tremendous. And the notion that anyone can do it - well, not anyone - but you are tied in, and you're always attached by a cable, so in theory if you fall you won't fall to your death, you'll fall 12 feet. 

It was one of the freakiest things I'd ever seen and I wanted to show off that part of the world to the rest of the country, because I didn't know you could do this. To me, I figured that to do a climb like that it would take years of experience and normally it would, except for this series of cables.

Rick Mercer successfully avoids falling to his doom while climbing Mount Nimbus for your entertainment. -- Facebook (Rick Mercer Report)

There's a scene in the Mount Nimbus bit where you fall through a suspension bridge and you say 'This is why bucket lists are a bad idea.' How much of the Report is really like a personal bucket list? Things you want to do, places you want to go?

RM: It's not a personal bucket list, although almost every week, no matter what I'm doing, I'll hear from people because I'm doing something that's on their bucket list, you know what I mean? Ohmigod, yeah. 

Anything coming up this season that might fit the bill?

RM: Generally we don't know what we're doing week to week because it's shot very topically, right? 

How much prep time do you get when you're given an assignment?

RM: Well, there's usually a two or three-hour plane ride.

(Laughs) That's it?

RM: Well, it depends. Sometimes I know that things are happening weeks in advance and sometimes I find out on Friday or Saturday what I'm doing on Monday.

That's got to make for good TV.

RM: Yeah. I once did -- it was a type of skiing where you're pulled by parachutes. And a kid wrote me and he said, 'Wow, you were really bad at that, even by Rick Mercer standards. (Laughs)

What adventures can you tease from the upcoming season?

RM: I'm going to meet with the pandas in the Toronto Zoo. I'll be a zookeeper for a day. I'll go to paramedic college in British Columbia. I'm - what else? - I trained with the Coast Guard in British Columbia.

Canadian Coast Guard for a day. A scene from a 2012 episode of the Rick Mercer Report. -- Facebook (Rick Mercer Report)

But you know, Mount Nimbus is potentially the kind of thing that has been on a lot of people's bucket lists. A lot of people are intrigued by mountains and would love to experience being in the mountains, but you know, short of being in a plane crash, your opportunity for actually being in the mountains, if you're not a mountain climber, are very slim. And you know, being a mountain climber, it's a huge involvement of time and money and it's just a big investment. So the chance to go do that as a civilian would appeal to a lot of people.

And it appealed to you as well?

Well, I knew it was going to be a great piece.

The show is not my personal bucket list. (Laughs) It's not how I like to spend my days. I don't think anyone would believe that. But I mean, 90 per cent of the pieces I feel incredibly lucky to take part.

The Rick Mercer Report returns for a new season October 8 at 8 p.m./8:30 NT on CBC.

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