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North America, Canada, Ellesmere Island, Barbeau Peak and Various Ascents

Ellesmere Island, Barbeau Peak and Various Ascents. In June, an expedition to Ellesmere Island made a rare ascent of Barbeau Peak, highest point in the Canadian Arctic, and cleared up some confusion concerning its location. The eight-man party was composed of Dan Bennett, Jack Bennett, Tom Budlong, Tony Daffern, Pete Ford, Dave Rotheroe, Bill Salter, and Greg Slayden.

The best topographic maps do not clearly indicate the location of the peak. Hattersley- Smith, a member of the first ascent party in 1967, gives its location as 81° 55' N, 75° 1' W. However, Errington, leader of the second ascent party, locates Barbeau Peak as the one at 81° 53' N, 75° 17' W, over three miles to the southwest (see AAJ 1982, p. 176, sketch map).

Our party flew by chartered Twin Otter from Resolute to the North Ellesmere Icecap and established their first camp at 81° 57' 44" N, 75° 30' 40" W on June 14. Conditions during the week on the icecap were ideal: temperatures of about 30 to 40°F, perfectly clear, soft snow, and no major crevasses. From camp, Daffern, Ford and Slayden set off for what appeared to be the highest peak in the range. After gaining the col to the west of the peak, they attempted the west ridge, but turned back near the summit when it became steep and icy. After retreating to the col and making a ski traverse across the northwest face to the broad north ridge, they easily climbed to the snowy, knife-edge summit, which they reached on the morning of June 15. This peak was clearly the highest in the vicinity, and sighting using levels in the perfectly clear, calm conditions confirmed this judgment.

Several hours later, Bennett, Bennett, Budlong, Rotheroe, and Salter also climbed to the summit of Barbeau Peak via the north ridge. They, too, sighted using levels and could find no other higher summit within view. Also, they discovered a register in the rocks of the pinnacled south ridge, just below the summit, with notes from both the 1967 first ascent and Errington’s 1982 second ascent. So the location of Barbeau Peak, confirmed by two separate GPS readings, is 81° 54' 49.8" N, 75° 00' 41.0" W. This means that Errington’s sketch map in the 1982 AAJ is incorrect: Barbeau is “Peak I”, not “Peak K”.

After Barbeau Peak, the party turned its attention to other peaks while traveling down the Air Force Glacier. These peaks were possibly unclimbed; there are no records of any ascents, but all are technically easy and not particularly remote. On June 17, D. Bennett, Daffern, Ford, and Slayden climbed a prominent 6,400-foot sub-peak at 81° 55' 36" N, 76° 32' 4" W. Then, on June 18, Bennett, Bennett, Daffern, Ford, Salter, and Slayden climbed a 5,500-foot peak at 81° 50' 22" N, 76° 49' 22" W. This very prominent knife-edge summit was given the provisional name of “High pointers Peak,” since five in the party are members of the High pointers Hiking Club.

On June 21, the expedition exited the Air Force Glacier and then continued down the tundra of the Air Force River valley to the Tanquary Fjord ranger station and airstrip, where they were picked up on June 28.

Greg Slayden