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By Peggy Gordon

The pilot circles above the snowy peaks of the Tantalus Range and suddenly Lake Lovely Water comes into view. This pristine, alpine lake lies at an altitude of 3,800 feet in the coastal mountains of British Columbia, about 40 miles northwest of the 2010 Olympics city of Vancouver. Lake Lovely Water is a renowned hiking and rock-climbing area which can be reached by float helicopter or by foot. The Alpine Club of Canada has a two-story hut on the lake which sleeps 20 people. Other activities include swimming, fishing, and canoeing.

You could be that licensed pilot (along with a pilot guide from Glacier Air, located at nearby Squamish airport). Or you could relax and let one of their experienced mountain-flying pilots show you the dramatic splendours of snow-covered mountains, icy glaciers, and secluded lakes while you snap stunning pictures.

Glacier Air offers helicopter tours and fixed-wing airplane sightseeing tours and charters as well as mountain flight training.

If you want to celebrate that special occasion, or treat that special someone, what better way than with a champagne lunch on a glacier? After touring the Tantalus mountain range, a helicopter lands on Serratus Glacier and everyone gets out to stretch their legs, sip champagne and drink in the spectacular view. If you don’t drink, it doesn’t matter — the view itself is worth the trip! This alpine lunch is only offered from May to September and requires 24 hours notice. Even the warm, lined, waterproof boots are provided by Glacier Air.

If you are flying into Vancouver, Glacier Air will pick you up in Vancouver and take you on one of their many tours around the breathtaking local mountains. If you go via the shimmering blue waters of Howe Sound, you will pass by cascading Shannon Falls, the third highest waterfalls in British Columbia at a height of 335 metres above the sea-level freeway known as Highway 99. North of the falls is the famous Stawamus Chief, another world-renowned hiking and rock-climbing formation. It is a 700-metre granite monolith with three summits and is the second largest granite monolith in the world. It is surrounded by Stawamus Provincial Park, which is suitable for camping. If you view the Chief from Runway 14 at Squamish airport, you can pick out the shape of a beige-colored witch on her broom against the gray granite rock background.

Fly up to Mount Garibaldi and around Garibaldi Park, which is one of the largest provincial parks in British Columbia, to see the “Barrier,” a volcanic lava formation restraining the turquoise-coloured waters of Garibaldi Lake. Another tour takes you up to Whistler and Blackcomb, two world-famous ski resorts. Included in this tour is the striking volcanic rock formation known as Black Tusk, visible for miles around.

Customized tours can be arranged by the friendly, knowledgeable staff at Glacier Air. The owner/manager is Colette Morin, who has come up the ranks since 2002 from private pilot to commercial pilot, instructor, tour guide, and now “le grande fromage” (“the big cheese”) at Glacier Air. The fleet consists of two Cessna 172s and two Cessna 206s, along with a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter. Glacier Air also has a base in nearby Sechelt and is truly capable of offering you an awesome mountain-flying experience. If you wish to visit Colette’s website, all of the appropriate links, fares, and contact information are on the site.

Note: All Glacier Air flight operations are unavailable from Jan. 11-March 24, 2010 due to Olympic security and airspace restrictions.

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