American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stewart Valley, Mirror Wall, Sensaciones

Canada, Nunavut, Baffin Island, Stewart Valley

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Josep Maria Esquirol
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2017

The Mirror Wall (center) has only one known route, climbed in 2010. The Citadel is at left and Great Sail Peak to the right.

David “Pelut” Palmada and I flew to Baffin on April 27, 2010, and traveled by snowmobile to the Stewart Valley on May 10. From base camp, it was only a 30-minute approach to the unclimbed wall we planned to attempt. [Editor’s note: This ca 900m wall lies between Great Sail Peak on the right and Artic Monkeys (McAleese-Thomas-Turner, 2010) on the left.]

We spent the first six days climbing and hauling the bags up the first 300m, in order to reach a ledge system at the base of the steepest climbing. This alpine section had some bad snow to 60°–65° and some vertical rock. After two rest days, we switched to the big-wall life.

We first tried to climb the wall directly, but we soon realized we wouldn’t have enough time; it’s extremely technical aid climbing, and there aren’t ledges with snow for water. We moved farther left, toward the north buttress, and climbed about 800m up the main wall, with good rock and cracks, plus two snow and mixed pitches. Above this, another alpine section of about 300m led to the top. The wall finished with two spires that we baptized Genciana’s Needle and Pelut’s Needle.

The main wall took 19 days to climb, plus 24 hours for rappelling. During the climb, the weather was usually poor and cold. We enjoyed only two or three very good days on the wall. We used six portaledge camps. We called the whole face the Mirror Wall, because the main wall was nearly as blank as a mirror. We called our route Sensaciones; the total climbing distance was about 1,600m, and the difficulty was about 6c+ A4 M6 60°.

– Josep Maria Esquirol, Spain 

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