American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Nunavut, Baffin Island, The Wall of Clouds, Nassariit, and Other Shenanigans

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008

The Wall of Clouds, Nassariit, and other shenanigans. From May 1 to June 18 Sam Beaugey, Martial Dumas, Jean-Yves Fredricksen, Yann Mimet, and David Ravanel (and later Jean-Noel Itzstein, for jumps) made their first visit to Baffin to climb, ski, paraglide, and BASE jump. The original aim of the climbers was to visit the Stewart Valley and try a new route on Great Sail Peak. However, their equipment arrived late, so they undertook an easier approach and traveled to Scott Island (Piliktua in Inuit) at the mouth of Clark (also referred to as Scott) Inlet. Farther west the inlet splits into two fjords—Clark and Gibbs—that run north and south of Sillem Island.

After a reconnaissance of the walls on Scott Island, the French settled on a 650m face that in 1999 had been dubbed The Wall of Clouds, 1.5 km northwest of the Ship’s Prow. Splitting into two groups, the French chose lines 150m right of Aularutiksanga (Sedeneyer-White, 1999) and spent six hours climbing the first 20m of their choices before deciding to concentrate on one. The left-hand line was technical and elegant, the one to the right loose and dangerous. Working in shifts, they began Fixing the left-hand line. The First two pitches involved a lot of bat- hooking until reaching a decent crack. After four days they had only completed three pitches. Temperatures as low as -27°C caused problems for the belayer, who was sometimes immobile for up to eight hours. They decided the second should work from a portaledge with fly, where he was supplied with books. During days off from the wall, the climbers would sometimes plod up to a suitable summit and make a BASE jump or paraglider flight. After six days the high point was 350m above the ground. The team installed the First portaledge camp here, and all Five members moved up with three ledges and 10 haul bags, for a continuous push to the summit. The climb took a left-facing dihedral and required difficult aid with beaks, copperheads, blades, and small camming devices. There was also the problem of expanding flakes and dangerous blocks. Leading one pitch, Fredricksen carefully tied off an 80 kg loose rock, perched above his head, and lowered it until his belayers could cut it loose for a seven-second flight to the fjord. After seven days on the wall and one more camp at 500m, they reached the summit and named their route Nassariit (650m, A4). Dumas, Fredricksen, and Ravanel rappelled with the breakables, the other bags were tossed down, and Beaugey and Mimet got in a Fine BASE jump.

For the Final 15 days the group moved back to Sam Ford Fjord, but not before a BASE jump off the Ship’s Prow, which the French found was barely 500m high, not the 650m previously reported. Some also BASE jumped the 700m wall of The Beak and then turned to the huge 1,300m high wall on Polar Sun Spire, flying out from the great north face. Team members also made repeat ski and snowboard descents of the Polar Star Couloir (1,100m) on Mt. Beluga (also skied by members of a six-person French-Swiss team the day before), First climbed and skied in 2002 by Brad Barlage and Andrew McLean. While the others returned by conventional skidoo to Clyde River, Fredricksen returned by a solo, kite-assisted ski journey, covering the 160km of frozen water in less than two days.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, www.climbmagazine.com, AAC

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