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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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The Goods

We make massive, glacial runs to valley-bottom lakes in the morning, then fly over inlets to shoreline hot springs in the afternoon, where we soak, beach-comb, pick mussels, watch whales, seals, eagles. Several rainy days bring visits to native mask and totem-carvers; we hunker in dark studios listening to rain and the spirit-animal legends that drive local mythology. And then suddenly, the gloom lifts and we're out there in a half-million acres of prime ski terrain again, readying for another 1,000-metre sunset descent in silky, sun-softened corn. To our surprise, when we step from the chopper on a north-facing slope we see that the previous days' clouds have left 15 cm of fresh. It's almost July, so new snow is as welcome as the 12-kilo salmon we landed a couple hours ago, grilling on a barbeque at the lodge. The air is warm this evening but the snow is cold and dry, refrigerated from underneath by the glacier. How good is this run going to be? Even the mosquito gets out of the helicopter to see.

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