Most skiers come specifically to ski in Akshayuk Pass, either as a traverse or as a return trip from Pangnirtung. A wide variety of ski touring routes can also be experienced in Auyuittuq. All access is from Akshayuk Pass. For very experienced and adventurous mountaineers, a base camp can be established at Summit Lake, approximately halfway along the Pass, and a number of routes followed - or pioneered - from this point.
Route descriptions provided are general and are provided for purposes of planning your overall trip length only. You must obtain topographic maps and plan your own routes. You are responsible for your own safety! You must be capable of and experienced in assessing avalanche hazard. You must be capable of and experienced in safe glacier travel techniques and crevasse self-rescue. Alpine conditions may change from year to year. Routes followed safely in one year may not be passable the next. Routes other than the Akshayuk Pass Traverse are not often skied and changes may occur that do not get reported. You will need to continually assess terrain and acknowledge when conditions exceed your ability to cope with them. We recommend that the group discuss how will you come to consensus about turning back from a trip - before you leave home.
Akshayuk Pass Traverse
This is the only route in Auyuittuq National Park that does not involve glacier travel. Akshayuk Pass is a 97 km (60 mi.) ice-free trough that cuts through the mountains between Cumberland Sound and Davis Strait. The pass can be traversed one-way between Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung. Or, you can start from Pangnirtung, ski into the Pass and return the same way. Allow from 10 - 14 days to make the traverse. Allow extra time for delays caused by bad weather.
We recommend that you travel between Qikiqtarjuaq and the head of North Pangnirtung Fiord by oversnow outfitter to reduce your risk of encountering polar bears. If you are skiing towards Qikiqtarjuaq, use your satellite phone to arrange pickup when you arrive at the head of the North Pangnirtung fiord, or discuss arrangements with the Park office in Pangnirtung before you leave.
Side Trips from a Summit Lake Base Camp
Groups who wish to set up a base camp in the Summit Lake area can spend time exploring this vast area. Trips of from one to several days are possible. Groups planning an extended backcountry stay may wish to hire an outfitter to transport some of their gear for them. The following route descriptions are examples to help you plan the length of your stay only. You will need to use a topographic map and your own experience and skills to plan your own safe travel routes, which may vary from the descriptions given.
- Parade Glacier
ROUTE: Ascend the toe of the Caribou Glacier until you turn northeast up to the Parade Glacier between Mounts Freya and Asgard. Descend to Summit Lake via the Turner Glacier.
DISTANCE: About 25 km
NOTES: The high point of the Parade Glacier between the immense walls of Asgard and Freya is one of the most spectacular places in North America. If you are not in a hurry, turn this into a two-day trip and camp here overnight.
- Mount Battle
ROUTE: There are several ways up this rounded summit from the northeast end of Summit Lake.
DISTANCE: About 20 km.
NOTES: Good views and a pleasant down run. A fine introduction to ski mountaineering in Auyuittuq.
- Mount Tyr
ROUTE: Ascend the central glacier on Mount Tyr, southwest of the Summit Lake emergency shelter and then turn back east to come out as high as you can on the east shoulder of the peak. Descend by the same route.
DISTANCE: About 5 km
NOTES: This route does not lead to the true summit of Mount Tyr but from the northeast shoulder you will get superb views and a challenging descent.
Two and Three-Day Trips:
These medium-length trips can be done from a base in the Summit Lake area.
- Rundle Glacier- Nerutusôq
ROUTE: Ascend the Nerutusôq Glacier to the Upper Rundle (about 10km) then turn northeast along the Upper Rundle Glacier for about 7 km, until it joins the Lower Rundle Glacier. Descend the Lower Rundle Glacier north to Owl Valley and return to camp via Glacier and Summit Lakes.
DISTANCE: About 40 km
NOTES: A pleasant 2-day trip on mostly gentle slopes with one heavily crevassed area on the Upper Rundle Glacier.
- Forkbeard Glacier
ROUTE: Ascend the Nerutus^q Glacier, until you reach the icefield which feeds the Forkbeard Glacier. Descend the Forkbeard staying on the north side and then scramble down the talus slopes below Mount Bredablik to Weasel Valley (see note "b" below).
DISTANCE: About 30 km
NOTES: a) A fine two-day trip through some remarkable scenery. Many of the mountains in the area stand in monolithic isolation - granite islands in a sea of ice.
b) The lower end of the Forkbeard Glacier drops off almost vertically and is very dangerous, especially in conditions of poor visibility. Stay on the north edge of the glacier as you approach the lip and make your descent into Weasel Valley via the talus slopes below Mount Bredablik.
- Norman Glacier
ROUTE: Ascend the Caribou Glacier to its high point between Mounts Adluk and Tyr. From here, turn northwest and then north up the glacier to its highpoint and then down to the Norman Glacier. Descend the Norman Glacier to Glacier Lake and then return to camp.
DISTANCE: About 55 km.
NOTES: a two- to three-day trip.
Multi-day trips are possible using the above route suggestions as starting points, or by pioneering your own.
Parks Canada staff would be very pleased to hear about your experience on Auyuittuq's backcountry ski routes, whether you choose one of the routes sketched above, or find others. Please consider dropping into our offices or sending us an email when your trip is done.