2016 Bella Coola SUP Expedition

   Stand Up Paddling
British Columbia - March 2016
On March 19, 2016 Kokatat Ambassdors Jimmy Martinello, Chris Christie, Jon Burak and fellow adventurers, JF Plouffe and Dennis Flett departed North America’s southernmost Fjord of Howe Sound in Squamish, heading north to Bella Coola at the edge of the Great Bear Rain Forest. They mapped out a 14-day journey that encompassed River SUP, Ski Mountaineering, Ocean Touring and finally Paddleboard Surfing at a remote location on the West Coast.

   Stand Up Paddling

British Columbia - March 2016

On March 19, 2016 Kokatat Ambassdors Jimmy Martinello, Chris Christie, Jon Burak and fellow adventurers, JF Plouffe and Dennis Flett departed North America’s southernmost Fjord of Howe Sound in Squamish, heading north to Bella Coola at the edge of the Great Bear Rain Forest. They mapped out a 14-day journey that encompassed River SUP, Ski Mountaineering, Ocean Touring and finally Paddleboard Surfing at a remote location on the West Coast.

The team

Jimmy Martinello

Jimmy Martinello

Chris Christie

Chris Christie

Jon Burak

Jon Burak

Our trio have collaborated on an inspiring journey into the coastal mountains of British Columbia with the idea of highlighting the diversity of the incredible opportunities this province offers. Combining River Standup Paddle boarding, Ski Mountaineering, Ocean Touring and Surfing into one trip right in our own backyard."


Perception, concept, a dream, with much preparation comes reward once you step out into the elements of the great outdoors.

Heading out the Anarco River - Start of the Journey
Heading out the Anarco River - Start of the Journey

The Concept - coming together with good friends, SUPing down a beautiful river system, linking mountains and river’s, then exploring out into the vast ocean in search of surf. A place where it all can happen, our idea and plan takes our crew to the wild west coast of British Columbia where our dreams become reality with a little hard work and passion to step out and get after it.

With any big trip or expedition, a lot of the work is the prep at home before leaving. Work, family, time off and then logistics. Mapping out the route, gear, weather, tides, you name it this expedition had it all. Multi-sport adventure 101, not sure where you can get educated in this other than getting out and getting experience. Our crew of 5 have been exploring our whole lives, and this was an extension of who we are and our love for adventure and being out in the world of nature and the raw elements.

Getting gear unloaded and prepared before we hit the Narco River in Bella Coola
Getting gear unloaded and prepared before we hit the Anarco River in Bella Coola

Our team, Jon Burak, Chris Christie, Dennis Flett, J.F Plouffe and myself Jimmy Martinello, set out on our journey, departing on the Anarco River in Bella Coola BC. After a 15 hour drive from Squamish, with the biggest fleet of gear I’ve ever seen packed into one pickup truck. Skis, river gear, ocean gear, surf boards, SUP boards, food, beer, gear, gear, gear. Thanks to Johnny’s rad truck and driving, we persevered and were heading down the river.

Packing up the boards beside the Anarko River - setting out for a two week river & ocean adventure
Packing up the boards beside the Anarko River - setting out for a two week river & ocean adventure

Loading gear onto our SUP explore boards, for a quest taking us over 230 km of waterways, to reach the majestic Calvert Island for some of the most memorable surf and beauty we could ever dream of. Dreams becoming a reality, all the years of experience we shared pay off, rewarded with a safe passage through the heart of the beautiful wilderness of the BC coast line.

Heading down the Bella Coola River with amazing mountain surrounding in all directions - another 200 km to go
Heading down the Bella Coola River with amazing mountain surrounding in all directions
Jimmy Martinello - day two enjoying the beautiful views and fine waters of the Bella Coola River
Jimmy Martinello - day two enjoying the beautiful views and fine waters of the Bella Coola River

From the Anarco to the Bella Coola River, out into the untamed waters of the Pacific Ocean, with days of paddling through the night, rain or shine. Our goals set, we are in tune with our surrounding environment, releasing the everyday stress and becoming fully immersed in Nature. On coarse, following our path out into the Dean Channel, working with the winds, paddling with the tides, we break new ground on our inflatable S.U.P explore boards, Calvert Island here we come.

Dennis and Jon - ocean bound for Dean Channel and Calvert Island
Dennis and Jon - ocean bound for Dean Channel and Calvert Island
Basecamp at Calvert Island
Basecamp at Calvert Island

Words never express the true beauty of it all, it takes stepping out into the elements. I could write a book about our experience to Calvert Island, and the skiing part of this expedition - well it never happen this time round. The mountains where shedding their winter coat, avalanches where pouring down, and the temps were way too high to tip toe around. So we listened and changed our course, and had a magical time cherishing the waterways and having the mountains tower above us as our dreams became reality.

A magical day of Surf off the west coast of Calvert Island
A magical day of Surf off the west coast of Calvert Island

Read the full story about the Bella Coola SUP expedition.

The Kokatat Team

Jimmy Martinello lives in Squamish BC. Jimmy loves to explore and adventure in a wide variety of sports and has been documenting his travels as a professional photographer for the last 20 years. JimmyMartinello.com. For the last 5 years the SUP world has been a big part of his life, and has taken him on some wild adventures across the globe. Working with great production companies and manufactures from National Geographic to Epic T.V, Arcteryx, Outside, Red Paddle Co, Kokatat and more. From the mountains to the ocean he is grateful for the adventures he’s shared with incredible friends and family, and looks forward to an amazing time ahead.

Chris Christie found the mountains and rivers early in life. He grew up on the flanks of North Vancouver with many options of mountains to ski and rivers to paddle. At times you would find Chris commuting home from school on the Capilano River. He now lives in Squamish BC and works as a professional Fire-Fighter in West Vancouver and is a Freelance Action Sport Photographer. Christie-Images.com. Long paddle missions on the west coast inspire Chris and he looks forward to finding adventure in the pristine locations with his camera.

Jon Burak simply loves water. He has spent 15 years as a whitewater guide and the last five years pioneering whitewater SUP around British Columbia. Based in Squamish, BC, Jon started Mountain Life Media with a friend which allows him to work and play in the outdoors as much as possible. “Paddling brings adventure and freedom and I am very grateful to have these in my life.”

Our trio have collaborated on an inspiring journey into the coastal mountains of British Columbia with the idea of highlighting the diversity of the incredible opportunities this province offers. Combining River Standup Paddle boarding, Ski Mountaineering, Ocean Touring and Surfing into one trip right in our own backyard."


The Gear that Made This Possible