Mt. Asgard, South Tower, South Face, North Tower, East Face, and Other Activity
North America, Canada, Baffin Island
Chris Brazeau and I spent four weeks in Auyittuq National Park, climbing the granite walls and ridges of the Weasel Valley. We left home with inspiring photos, vague beta, and a lot of excitement. In the fishing village of Pangnirtung in early July, we met Belgian friends and hired a boat to take us to the trailhead at the end of the fjord. Our main goal was to climb beautiful Mt. Asgard, which requires a 42km approach. As the Weasel Valley is stacked with amazing mountains, the objectives along the way were plentiful and the views always mind-blowing.
Of our 28 days in the park, we spent seven climbing, 11 schlepping loads, and 10 resting. We did our routes in light, clean style, trying to find challenging, aesthetic lines. Our two most significant climbing achievements were:
Asgard’s South Tower, South Face (600m, 5.12-). We thought we were on a new route until we found a bolt at the crux, on the second-to-last pitch. Not sure, but we probably climbed 50% new terrain and 50% the Italian Route. After 300m of 4th-classing, we continued with nine amazing 60m pitches of mostly 5.10, except for the 5.12-crux pitch. It was probably the first free ascent of the South Tower, taking 16 hours roundtrip from a camp alongside the Caribou Glacier.
Asgards North Tower, Northeast Face (800m, 5.11 + Cl). Hard to say whether the first half had been climbed, but we climbed about 10 nice pitches, up to 5.11-, to the headwall. We then followed an obvious crack system, to the right of Line of Credit, that provided the highlight of the trip. Eight 60m pitches, six of which were 5.11 and often involved run-out, delicate face climbing that linked cracks, on some of the best quality stone we’ve ever touched. Wet rock forced us right near the top, and one body-length didn’t go free due to wetness. Probably 5.12-free, but we onsighted the rest of the headwall. The Favresse brothers repeated the first two-thirds of the headwall, and drier conditions permitted a more direct finish. Camp-to-camp took us 22½ hours, with at least two hours of approaching.
We also repeated the Scott Route (5.11-) on Asgards North Tower and the South Ridge (5.8) of Mt. Thor, both classics; the 600m South Ridge of Mt. Menhir (Salvaterra’s route; perfect rock, of similar character to the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire), with 5.10 variations; and Stories in Stone (600m, 5.12-A0) on Mt. Walle, a sustained 16 pitches with bolted belays, one of the best routes either of us has climbed. It’s a physical route, with chimneys and offwidths on an amazing red pillar; it required our biggest effort, taking 25 hours camp-to-camp.
On Mt. Tirokwa’s west face we attempted a new route to the left of Chocolate Boomerang [see below], climbing about 400m out of 700m, before run-out face climbing shut us down. This could be a great route, but a couple of bolts seem necessary to pass an obvious white rock scar.
The expedition unfolded smoothly, we had a great time, and the weather was great. We climbed more than we anticipated, and the adventure was everything that we hoped it would be. Thanks to Arc’teryx for helping make this trip possible.