North America, Canada, Canadian Arctic, Ellesmere Island

Publication Year: 1994.

Ellesmere Island. The Innuitian Orogen geological province constitutes a marvelous sandstone desert of mesas and buttes punctuating the icefields. The corridor from Tanquery Fjord to Hazen and to northwest Greenland has been used since the days of the Dorset culture. Our expedition set out to explore some of its obscurer venues. From Tanquery we headed northeast to the icefields of the British Empire Range. Ascending the Rollrock Glacier to the Viking Icecap, I made a solo ascent of the peaks dividing the two arms of the glacier. At the southern end of the British Empire Range stand a succession of buttes flanked by the Charybdis Glacier. Ruthmary Deuel, Forrest Baldwin, Tom Eads and I climbed the south peak in snow and fog by way of the Charybdis Glacier. We ascended the Observation Plateau above the Air Force Glacier. We sited stone house rings near Hazen, two muskox skulls on the Charybdis Glacier, eocene tree fragments (including root systems), a herd of 13 muskoxen and three Peary caribou that approached us fearlessly. At Hazen, we met the crew of the Russian ice-breaker Kalebnikov about to attempt the first circumnavigation of Greenland. They were, however, doomed to be stranded in the pack ice of Nares Strait a few weeks later.

Dennis Schmitt, Sierra Club