Sirmilik National Park of Canada

Equipment considerations

Sirmilik 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:

Clothing: 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 ice.

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.

Sun Protection: You may 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: Sirmilik National Park lies within the area of compass unreliability. GPS receivers are your best bet for navigation. GPS locations are given on the attached map.

Personal Locator Beacons (PLB): These must be rented or purchased prior to your arrival. In case of serious emergency, your party turns the beacon on. The beacon signals the Canadian Armed Forces base at Trenton. Search and rescue is then initiated. Once turned on, the beacon cannot be turned off nor the rescue launch reversed.

You must register your PLB with the RCMP in Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay. PLBs are intended for life-or-death situations only. Remember that rescue can take many days if the weather is working against you, or in some cases may be impossible. Your best assurance of personal safety is your party's own self-reliance and personal resources.

Satellite phone: Most satellite phones will not work in Sirmilik because their transmissions are limited by northern latitude. If you intend to bring a satellite phone, be sure to check its range and functionality at northern latitudes. 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 Sirmilik 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 Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay and leave any unused fuel behind. See the brochure on Safety in Polar Bear Country pamphlet for more information on the use and transport of bear deterrents and noisemaking devices.