Auyuittuq National Park is a place for experienced winter travelers. You will need ALL your winter travelling and skiing equipment. In addition, you will need to bring any specialized gear for mountaineering or glacier travel if you intend to carry out these activities.
You must know your equipment well, have tested it, and it must be in good repair. Consider the isolation and the Arctic environment when choosing your gear. Especially consider the consequences if any piece of gear should fail you.
The following are some suggestions and comments on gear:
Caching Gear and Food: If you are on an extended mountaineering trip, you may wish to hire an outfitter to travel into the park by snow machine and cache extra gear or food for you. A permit is required for placing caches. Contact the park office for more information about arranging this.
Clothing: Re-read the previous section on wind! Head to toe wind-proof clothing, including overmitts, is essential. High quality, comfortable ski goggles will make travel in windy conditions much more pleasant. A neoprene face mask may help prevent nose and cheek frostbite. Fur trim on your parka hood helps create a dead airspace in front of your face and protect you from wind. Overbooties or full gaiters will help keep your feet warm and boots dry. Your group's best protection against frostbite is vigilance: check yourself, and check each other frequently for white or numb spots, including under face masks and ski goggles. Toes, and thumbs holding ski poles are common victims of frostbite; monitor your own and those of your friends.
Stoves: Most camping stoves do not perform well in severe cold and wind. Stove failure on a remote tour can kill you! You will only be able to get water by melting snow and ice. Choose your stove well and test it, if possible in windy conditions, before you arrive. Be certain that you have the spare parts, tools and knowledge to repair any malfunction. One stove per 3 people and a minimum of two stoves in a group is recommended. While it may be tempting to cook inside a tent when the weather is bad, the danger of fire or of carbon monoxide poisoning is very real.
Crampons: Even if you are not intending to travel on glaciers, we recommend carrying crampons or instep crampons to assist you in walking on river ice and getting up and down the frozen waterfall at Windy Lake.
Tents: Choose a tent that is easy to pitch in soft, dry snow and is strong enough to stand up to high winds. Consider bringing ice screws to anchor your tent if you are camping on ice. Bring a snow saw to cut snow blocks to build a windbreak.
Sleds: Some parties planning longer trips pull sleds. A sled with metal runners will perform best. Bring a file to smooth out burrs and nicks in the runners that will inevitably occur. You may also wish to consider hiring an outfitter to drop some gear at pre-arranged caches before you ski in.
Sun Protection: You will be skiing on snow in near 24-hour daylight. Snowblindness and sunburn can result if you are not adequately protected with the strongest sunscreens and best sunglasses you can find. Keep your sunscreen warm by storing it in an inside pocket of your jacket and apply fresh coats to exposed skin frequently.
First Aid: Consider that the only first aid that can reach you quickly is the first aid capability available in your own group. It is advisable to have some knowledge of emergency medical techniques and a full first-aid kit.
Navigation: Auyuittuq National Park lies within the area or within an area of compass unreliability. GPS receivers are your best bet for navigation. GPS locations are given on the attached map.
SPOT devices can be used to allow family and friends to track your progress on your trip as well as to initiate a distress signal. This signal is non-reversible and is to be used in a life-threatening situation only. Visitors should be aware that the SPOT satellite network has poor coverage at high latitudes and that signals can be obstructed in valleys such as Akshayuk pass. They are NOT considered a reliable method of communication. Make sure that you have advised your family and friends who may be tracking your “okay” messages that the absence of a message does not necessarily mean you are having problems. It most likely means you are temporarily not transmitting. During your registration we will collect information about your unit in the event that there is a need to check the activity from it.
Personal Locator Beacons (PLB): You must register your PLB with the RCMP in the community where you begin your trip. PLBs are intended for life-or-death situations only. Remember that rescue can still take from eight hours if conditions are good to several days if the weather is working against you. Your best assurance of personal safety is your party's own self-reliance and personal resources.
Satellite phone: Bringing a satellite phone is strongly recommended. Be sure to also bring the phone numbers you would need to call in case of an emergency. Satellite phones are not readily available in Nunavut. Your best bet is to rent one at home and bring it with you when you come north.
Consider the effect of extreme cold. Temperatures colder than -30 C will damage equipment. Shock cords lose flexibility. Plastic items crack and break. Batteries fail readily and do not last long. For every item you bring, consider the consequences if that item fails and you have no way to repair it and no replacement. Bring spare parts and repair materials, including spare ski bindings and tent pole and tent fabric repair kits.
Consider the effect of extreme cold on YOU. Winter visitors to Auyuittuq National Park commonly experience frostbite and other cold injuries. Are you ready for this, and for the sheer discomfort of skiing and camping in severe cold?
Gear NOT to bring:
In National Parks of Canada it is unlawful to possess a firearm without a permit. The exception to this regulation is for beneficiaries of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and Nunavut Land Claim Agreement; they may carry firearms when engaged in traditional activities within national parks in their land claim area. Stove fuel, bear deterrents and many noisemaking devices used to scare bears away are deemed dangerous goods and are prohibited from transport on aircraft. You will need to buy stove fuel in the community where you begin your trip and leave any unused fuel behind. Outfitters in both communities often accept leftover white gas. Contact outfitters directly. See the brochure on Safety in Polar Bear Country pamphlet for more information on the use and transport of bear deterrents and noisemaking devices.
Again, we stress that an outfitter should be hired to transport your group between Qikiqtarjuaq and the head of North Pangnirtung Fiord to minimize your chances of meeting polar bears.