American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Ellesmere Island, Manson Icefield, Ascents and Exploration

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Manson Icefield, ascents and exploration. From the village of Grise Fjord we made a month-long unsupported ski tour and exploratory mountaineering trip from April 28 to May 24. Our group consisted of Marek Vokac and Lars Tore Ludvigsen from Norway, and Marshall Netherwood and myself from Canada. Each person skied with a pulk containing all supplies for our 300 km tour. The pulks weighed between 60 and 70 kg apiece.

We walked and skied frozen Jones Sound for 55 km to the Jakeman Glacier, one of the few named glaciers flowing from the Manson Icefield. The Manson Icefield extends over approximately 6,000 square kilometers, with over 50 glaciers reaching the ocean. The widest glacial snout reaching the sea is nearly 15 km wide. We skied up the Jakeman, taking the left fork, and after four days were situated well into the icefield. From two camps seven summits were ascended with skis and crampons.

Everyone made numerous penetrations into crevasses, usually when not wearing skis and typically while on summits or ridges. The visits were only up to the armpits, but the crevasses were certainly deep and wide enough to kill. Polar bear protection included two shotguns, noisemaker pistols, bear spray, and a camp perimeter trip-wire alarm system. No bears and no tracks old or new were seen.

The weather was mixed. It began with -30°C night temperatures and ended just above freezing a month later. About 30 percent of the time the icefield was covered in clouds thick enough to be considered whiteout conditions. Moderately strong winds were common from all directions. On the last night, near Grise Fjord, a tent pole was bent by the wind.

On the return route we descended a different glacier to a brackish lake dammed by the Jakeman Glacier. A side trip into Fram Fjord included scrambling up two minor peaks. Our last ascent, starting from three kilometers west of Anstead Point, was up an unnamed 1111m peak at the southern edge of a small unnamed icefield.

Table of peaks climbed and their locations:

Date

Mountain

Elevation

UTM East

UTM North

Route



May 6

Peak 1

1368m

518035

8511790

Traverse of





(glacial dome)







western slopes



May 7

Peak 2

960m

517897

8521634

Up SW ridge,





(Hyperbolic Ridge)





down NNE ridge



May 10

Peak 4

1347m

513575

8525398

SW slope



May 12

Peak 5

1334m

511962

8528548

SSW ridge



May 12

Peak 6

1340m

513904

8530484

West ridge



May 19

Peak 8

741m

496300

8496500

SSW ridge





(boundary pt. of land claim GF-23/49A)







May 19

Peak 9

457m

490500

8491500

NE slopes



May 21

Peak 10

1111m

480430

8493145

SSE slopes





(Fielder Icecap)









All UTMs are NAD 27 in zone 17X

Altitudes from GPS and corrected to measured sea level difference

Greg Horne, Alpine Club of Canada

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