American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Baffin Island, Auyuittuq National Park, Cumberland Peninsula, Ski Mountaineering Expedition

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Cumberland Peninsula, Ski Mountaineering Expedition. The objective of our Baffin Island ski mountaineering expedition was to make a self-sufficient 20-day journey in the Cumberland Peninsula mountains, climbing suitable peaks en route with standard alpine ski mountaineering gear. Between April 16 and May 6, the seven-member expedition (Danny Baillie, Rodney Franklin, John Kentish, Ian McKirdy, Graham Rowe, Charles Turner, and I) completed an exploratory journey through the mountains of the Cumberland Peninsula, to the east of the Weasel Valley and to the north of Kingnait Fjord. The Expedition was entirely self-sufficient from the point of drop-off by skidoo, with the supplies and equipment being pulled and carried with a combination of rucksack and specially adapted children’s sledge. After a few days around Mt. Asgard, the team moved southeast out of the Auyuittuq National Park into a very dramatic area of large glaciers and steep rock walls. A fairly circuitous travel of some 150 kilometers was made back to a pick-up at the head of Pangnirtung Fjord. Fourteen peaks were climbed en route. Most summits involved a combination of ascent by ski and foot, generally via the easier-looking ridges. The climbing never exceeded alpine PD+ in technical difficulty. Where possible, we attempted peaks suitable for ski ascent and descent. Climbs had to be accomplished relatively quickly in order to let the journey proceed. Of the peaks climbed, four had names and a further four appeared to have had previous ascents (i.e., caimed and/or recorded ascent). No mention has been found of the remaining six, but even so we would hesitate to claim any first ascents. It is highly likely, though, that many of the ascents were “firsts” in the ski-mountaineering sense. The southwest face of Valhalla Mountain was skied by two members from just below summit rocks to the glacier base, a vertical descent of some 500 meters with an average angle of 40° (max. 45°).

The full list of ascents is as below (together with an approximate alpine grade):

Date

Peak

Grid

Height

Party

Grade



April 18

West Summit of Adluk Peak















LU941971

1820m

DW, CT, IM, RF, D13

F



April 18

Unnamed Peak

LU962988

1850m

GR, JK

F



April 21

Unnamed Peak

MU178895

1920m

DW, CT, GR, IM, RF, DB

F



April 22

Qilaut Mountain

MU243802

2150m

DW, CT, RF. DB

PD+



April 25

Valhalla Mountain

MU290832

1720m

DW, CT, GR, IM, RF, DB

PD+



April 26

Unnamed Peak

MU315812

1660m

DW, CT, GR, IM, RF. DB

F



April 27

Unnamed Peak

MU243745

1900m

DW, CT, GR, IM, RF, DB

F



April 27

Unnamed Peak (Cairned)















MU232756

1680m

DW, DB

PD



May 2

Unnamed Peak

MU056758

1780m

DW, CT, GR, RF, DB

PD



May 2

Unnamed Subsidiary Peak















MU068750

1820m

DW, CT, GR, IM, RF, DB

F



May 3

Unnamed Peak (Cairned)















LU008694

1820m

DW, RF, DB

PD



May 3

Unnamed Peak

MU014682

1550m

DW, DB

F



May 4

Takuniakvik Peak

LU994705

1830m

DW, GR, RF, DB

PD+



May 4

Summit Ridge of Unnamed Peak















MU010674

1650m

DW, DB

F



The weather was generally high pressure with clear skies and little wind. Daytime temperatures ranged from -10°C to -15°C with nighttime lows of -30°C. Travel was restricted on three out of 20 days. Snow cover was good, but of dubious quality, with approximately 30 centimeters of windpack layers overlaying one meter of depth hoar. It was apparently a high snowfall year for the area. John Kentish broke a back molar tooth in half on day four and, in some pain, decided to retreat alone down the Weasel Valley to get treatment.

David Williams, United Kingdom

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.