Mounties in B.C.'s Kootenay region are investigating a possible hate crime after a gay man was viciously beaten as he "begged for mercy" against his attacker.

The suspect approached the victim and his boyfriend while they were relaxing in a hot pool on a cross-country ski trip in St. Leon's Hot Springs north of Nakusp the evening of Dec. 29.

Police say the suspect, who identified himself as Terry, left the pool after he discovered the two men are homosexual.

Cpl. Bryson Hill said the man told his two friends he was going to kill the couple.

"The victim's partner got out of the pool and ran into a bush to hide, leaving the victim alone. Unprovoked, he was viciously beaten as he begged for mercy," Hill said.

The victim, who was left alone in the snow, suffered bruising and cuts to most of his body and a large cut over the bridge of his nose.

His partner was able to help him back to the pool after the suspect and his two friends left on snowmobiles.

Police are asking for help from the public to identify the suspect. "Terry" is described as 6-0 tall, around 44-years-old with a stocky build and defined muscles. He has a short, flat-top hairstyle and a 2-inch tattoo of a silhouette of a bird on his chest.

He is believed to be from Calgary and may have been visiting the area of Nakusp or Revelstoke.

Mounties believe the crime is motivated by hate and ignorance about the victim's sexual orientation. Anyone with information is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers.

"This type of crime should not be tolerated in our country," Cpl. Hill said.

Police say they waited a month to go public with the story because they wanted to explore all other avenues of investigation.  Officers hope someone will recognize the suspect description and contact authorities.