The Bella Coola Story: From Ski Movie Backdrop to World-Class Heli Ski Resort
Bella Coola – no advertising guru could have come up with a more resonant name for the heliskiing hotspot in northwestern Canada. In reality, the name of the small port town on the Pacific coast, framed by gigantic peaks, comes from the First Nations, the indigenous people of Canada.
The three founders of Bella Coola Heli Sports
Bella Coola sounds like beautiful mountains, wilderness, adventure and cool guys. Guys like Beat Steiner and Pete „“The Swede““ Mattsson, next to Christian Begin the two founders of Bella Coola Heli Sports. Beat and Swede knew the area from previous freeride trips long before they had the idea to start their own heliski company. Beat and Swede had already crossed paths in Canada in the early 1980s. The two freeriders worked together on various ski projects around Whistler and in the Garibaldi Range. Beat as ski filmer, Swede as safety coordinator.
At the Banff Mountain Film Festival, the two then met the young and talented ski filmmaker Christian, who shortly after set off with Beat and Swede on joint ski adventures to shoot groundbreaking freeride scenes in North America and Greenland. The three then came to Bella Coola for the first time in 2000, at a time when it was becoming increasingly difficult to get permission to shoot in Whistler.
It was love at first sight. Shortly after, they secured exclusive heliskiing usage rights in the area so no one could snatch their powder playground from under their noses. Their favorite backdrop of gigantic peaks and Pacific fjords reaching deep into the country became the heliskiing area for their new company, and Tweedsmuir Park Lodge the first base. Bella Coola Heli Sports quickly found its place among the ranks of the world’s most renowned heliskiing operators. Since 2017, Bella Coola Heli Sports has won the title of „Best Heliski Operation in the World“ four times in a row at the World Ski Awards.
Bella Coola: big player and insider tip
Bella Coola Heli Sports has long been a big player in the heliskiing world and yet is still an exclusive insider tip. How does that work together? Quite simple: Bella Coola has been growing for years and keeps opening new, small lodges in breathtaking areas of their huge heliskiing area. Tweedsmuir Park Lodge has been joined by Eagle Lodge, Mystery Lodge, Pantheon Lodge and Terra Nostra Guest Ranch – and the very latest addition is the catamaran yacht MV Cascadia as a heliskiing base in the fjords of British Columbia.
Classics and new heliski lodges
The Bella Coola Heli Sports area is still considered one of the most popular ski movie backdrops around. Warren Miller and Co. know this, too, regularly stopping by Bella Coola for their shoots. While Swede retired in 2018, Beat and Christian are still with the company. They are still virtuosos on skis and run their company with the same passion as on day one. And the Bella Coola makers are not running out of ideas either. The plans for the next Bella Coola Lodge are already out of the box.