American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Nunavut, Baffin Island, Scott Island, Ascent and Attempts

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Scott Island, Ascent and Attempts. Three of us arrived in Clyde River on a Monday afternoon and waited two days for one member (the first to leave) to feel up to the trek. We left Clyde with two snowmobiles and komatiks. About ten hours later, we arrived at a hunter’s cabin on the Clark Inlet, across from Scott Island (or Piliktua, as the Inuit call it). The view from here is great, but belies the distance between the formations quite well. There are about ten peaks in the area with 3,000- to 4,000-foot walls boasting natural lines. Many more peaks have stunning 2,000- to 3,000-foot walls. Most of the formations in the area require some form of alpine approach.

We decided on a 4,000-foot south face of a formation on the east shore of the mouth of Clark’s Fjord that faces the widest section of the Clark Inlet. After we set up camp, a small storm blew through and the first member of the expedition left with the guides when they returned to Clyde.

We spent several days scoping the wall, trying to pick out the easiest way through the mixed-up lower section to the spectacular overhanging pillar above. We opted for the more stable left-trending ramps that led through the “Airplane,” then back right to the main wall under the pillar. After I led two climbing days and fixed 400 meters of rope to the beginning of the rock climbing, my partner said he did not want to continue. We cleaned the ropes as we retreated, leaving the anchors in place.

After some rest days, we summitted “Lone Wolf Point” (named for a wolf that visited our camp) on April 29 via a 600-meter couloir topped with 2,000-foot-plus vert of second-class talus on the peak’s western flanks. I built an Inukshuk (a large cairn) on the summit. In the following days we decided that we should pick a smaller objective. The guides were not able to move us for a week, so we decided to start a route on the formation’s west buttress. We finished two pitches on the fantastic white granite before Qullikkut guides moved us ten kilometers to Piliktua’s 2,000-foot formations. We set up camp below the wild geology of the 1,800-foot “Raven,” which we named for a couple of ravens that roosted on the formation. After I led the first two pitches in three climbing days, my second partner felt he couldn’t go on. We had been there three weeks and had started three routes. I was determined to complete a route with or without a partner. I decided to stay and solo my route.

I hauled all my rack and ropes to the high point and continued to about 750 feet (four pitches) before taking to the wall. I continued up the wall to a high point of 1,600 feet before losing momentum and my psyche. After ten days of living on the wall, I retreated, fixing 460 meters of static line back to the ice. The route is currently rated 5.7 A3, with the difficult aid involving many thin pins on an exfoliated and expanding headwall at the high point.

Jon Fox

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