The classic Auyuittuq Ski Traverse travels between the communities of Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq, through Auyuittuq National Park, on southeastern Baffin Island. It is an incredible passage through a rugged landscape comprised of 85 percent rock and ice. Terrain dominated by steep granitic peaks, glaciers and powerful rivers makes for spectacular sights and arduous travel.
The normal route travels the valley bottoms of the Owl and Weasel Rivers; however, there is tons of glaciated potential ski terrain to explore along the way. There are also other high means of passage through the park, which take high-lines across the glaciers.
Depending on the type of journey you seek, there are numerous variations you can make to this adventure. The post details a trip where we hired a Pangnirtung local Inuit Outfitter, Peter Kilabuk, to tow us via snowmobile into Akshuyak Pass, where we started our ski trip.
From there we towed our toboggans up the Turner Glacier and around Mt. Asgard and down the Caribou Glacier.
Along the way we skied a couloir in-between Mt. Midgard and Mt. Asgard.
Ski traversing on Baffin Island is different than most anywhere else in the world. Over the course of our first week in the park, we experienced overnight lows in excess of -40C and daytime highs of -25C. The terrain is challenging to say the least.
Boulder strewn moraines impede access to the glaciers and make towing a toboggan full of food and winter gear extremely difficult.
Over the course of three weeks in April, we endeavoured an Auyuittuq ski traverse through the park in search ski descents and adventure.￼￼￼
We alternated between dragging our gear up onto the glaciers and camping high and camping at valley bottom and making day trips up to mountain top. Travelling in a southerly direction, we moved down the Weasel River valley back towards Pangnirtung.
One of the most amazing experiences of the trip was sliding down the frozen Weasel River. Cascading rapids encased in ice made for a surreal ski touring experience as we crossed under the west face of Mt Thor.
The Weasel River flows into the Pagnirtung fjord which was frozen. The sea ice made for good travel on the last leg of our journey.