Auyuittuq Ski Traverse
Auyuittuq National Park in Canada’s eastern Arctic has some of the most beautiful alpine scenery on earth. This ski touring expedition crosses the entire Akshayuk Pass, including the rarely-seen northern section in the Owl River Valley.
We meet in Qikiqtarjuaq - a remote Inuit hamlet on an small island off the north coast of Baffin Island. Local Inuit will take us by snowmobiles across the frozen sea ice to the end of North Pangnirtung Fiord. From here we'll load our pulks (personal sleds) for the first strides south on our 97-km journey. We begin with the ascent of the Owl River Valley to the top of the pass - 500 metres above the sea. As we penetrate the mountains, we'll pass massive glaciers extending from the enormous Penny Ice Cap. Between Glacier and Summit Lakes, the magical cylindrical tower of Mount Asgard draws us to the top of the pass. Then we begin the descent of the frozen Weasel River. Mount Thor, 1500 metres above us, is said to have the longest, uninterrupted cliff face in the world. We'll then pass Windy Lake before crossing the Arctic Circle. Next, it is on past Crater Lake toward our final destination at Overlord - a majestic peak overlooking the trailhead on the shore of Cumberland Sound. Joavee Alivakyuk will meet us here and take us by snowmobile and Qamutik (wooden sled) to his home village of Pangnirtung.
The "Auyuittuq Ski Traverse" is a suitable expedition for any reasonably-fit and adventurous skier with previous experience on a multi-night hiking or skiing trip. We will be pulling our pulks, but have the support of a local Inuit and his Qamutik for carrying the bulky and heavy items. In places the route is challenging, but the efforts of this adventure are profusely rewarding. It will be the trip of a lifetime.
"Three months later, and I still carry the wonder of the Arctic experience in my soul. What a life-changing experience." Leela, London, UK
2021 Trip Update: Please note this program is tentative, while we wait for an easing of the non-essential travel ban currently in place in Nunavut.
Recommended Skill Level And Dates
Guides 4:1 ratio, plus one Inuit guide with snowmobile/Qamutik
• 11 nights of camping
• 1 night in Qikiqtarjuaq
• 1 night in Pangnirtung
• dinner and breakfast in Qikiqtarjuaq
• excellent trail meals and snacks from Day 2 lunch to Day 13 lunch
• dinner and breakfast in Pangnirtung
• "kitchen": group tent or tarp, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc.
• tents: free-standing, custom expedition dome tents - 2 per tent
• sleds, harnesses, backcountry touring skis, kicker skins, boots, ski poles (you may bring your own)
• first aid, safety, rescue, and repair kits
• communications equipment (satellite phone)
• snowmobile transfer between Qikiqtarjuaq and North Pangnirtung Fiord on Day 2
• snowmobile transfer between Overlord Peak and Pangnirtung on Day 13
• airport transfers in Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung on Days 1 and 14
• transportation of guides, group gear, food, etc. to and from the expedition
Trip Rendezvous Point: Qikiqtarjuaq, NU