Axel Heiberg Haute Ski Traverse 2005
A team of four skiers recently completed a six week unsupported
traverse of Axel
Heiberg Island north of Resolute Bay, Nunavut. Their
route crossed many of the ice caps and icefields of this island.
Hence the expedition name, Axel Heiberg Haute Ski Traverse 2005.
The original Haute Route is a world famous high ski route in the
Alps from Chamonix France to Saas Fee Switzerland.
The team consisted of Greg Horne and Louise Jarry of Jasper Alberta,
Sarah Boyle of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and Vicky Lytle of Anchorage
Alaska. Collectively the group has previous experience on Ellesmere,
Baffin, and Bylot Islands and in the Antarctic. The four were dropped
off on April 19th by a Kenn Borek ski equipped Twin Otter on Rens
Fiord near the northern end of the island. Each skier pulled a pulk
or sled 1.75 meters long, weighing 80 to 100 kgs, with all their
equipment, food and fuel for 47 days. No re-supplies or caches used.
Their rate of travel ranged from 2 to 24 kms per day depending upon
snow conditions, terrain steepness obstacles present. In total, including
all side trips about 450 kms were skied. On May 31st there were picked
up by Twin Otter and returned to Resolute Bay.
The principle route was from Rens Fiord into the headwaters draining
to Aurland Fiord, across a watershed divide to the lower Bukken River.
Then skiing up the Bukken through its spectacular canyons to its
headwaters. Next across the length of the Müller Ice Cap to
Eureka Pass, they continued south across another icefield to Strand
Fiord Pass and two more icefields to the pass separating Wolf and
Strand Fiords. Then the traversed the Glacier Fiord/Steacie Ice Cap
and finishing at the head of Surprise Fiord. Seven mountains were
ascended enroute, most probably as first ascents. One previously
climbed mountain they ascended was Outlook Peak, 1980 meters high,
possibly the high point of the island.
The 2006 Canadian Alpine Journal will feature a complete detailed
account of the traverse. The Royal Canadian Geographical Society
and the Mountain Equipment Co-op provided partial financial
support through their expedition grant programs. As well, The North
(Canada), Integral Designs (Calgary) and the Mountain Equipment
Co-op donated equipment or provided special discount pricing to support
Axel Heiberg team: Greg, Louise, Sarah and Vicky
Tent in wind storm
Three skiers with sleds
Toe glacier with fallen blocks