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The Bella Coola Lure

2,000-metre ski descents, 200-kilo Grizzly Bears and 20-pound salmon make summer at British Columbia’s legendary Bella Coola Heli Sports a trip out of the ordinary. Way out of the ordinary.



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What's the Buzz?

There's a mosquito in the helicopter. The pilot doesn't notice. The guide doesn't notice. Even the photographer is oblivious to the insect's spastic flight and constant buzz. Not that it's going to bite anybody through all the GoreTex and ski boots and helmets, but it's the kind of thing that can only happen when you're loading up a chopper for a twilight ski mission in June. Having ace air-jockey Richard Lapointe land the six-seat A-star 20 metres from the hot tub and 100 metres from our beds went a long way toward taking the edge off the usual heli-scramble. The mosquito thinks so, too. Within minutes, Lapointe sprinkles two groups across several unnamed peaks, and we're throwing long contrails of corn up at high speeds on slopes that bend steeply into the green idyll of the shadowy valley. Skiing a glacier in spring you are, quite literally, slicing through time, layers and eons revealing themselves as snow melts from the faces of giant, jacked-up blocks, and it all seems bigger, bolder, sharper in the alpine evening.

Animal Farm

There's more to this place than ripping legendary, big-mountain runs: we also cast lines for giant Chinook Salmon on the equally legendary Antarko and Bella Coola Rivers. And the rustic scene at historic Tweedsmuir Lodge is no less legendary. Guests are an eclectic mix this week-Iceland, Scotland, New York-all game to wrestle fightin' fish from rushing waters and enjoy heli-high sunsets in spectacular mountains. A typical lodge vignette sounds like you're making it up: chowing savory seafood appetizers and sipping cocktails on the deck while a croquet game ticks away below the watchful gaze of Bald Eagles. Black and Grizzly Bears wander the grounds with impunity on their way to see what the river is serving up, sending us scrambling for cameras that only get stowed when the dinner bell summons us to another gourmet feast. The lodge occupies the site of an ancient village named Stuie. In Nuxalk, it means "beautiful place to rest." Word.

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