Monday, 13 June 2016

Baffin Island - Skiing the Ancient Hallways - part 2

On our trip to Gibbs Fjord we skied pretty much every one of the 21 days we spent on the ice - with 24 hour daylight if the weather is bad in the morning it may well be good come evening time... We skied 18 previously unrecorded lines up to 1300m high, along with repeats of 2 lines skied by a French team in 2014. No point in describing them all - suffice to say it mostly involved skinning across a flat fjord, booting up a couloir, and skiing back down again... So I have tried to pick out some highlights and other interesting points from this trip:

Melting snow - don't let anyone tell you any different, on a trip like this huge amounts of time are spent melting snow - every meal, every hot drink - wake up in the morning, get all your warm kit on, get over to the 'kitchen' and get the stove on. Get back from skiing - get the stove on. Fill thermoses for the night/morning - get the stove on... When it is -20C this all takes some time so patience is an essential ingredient for a trip like this!

Mind you, the views from the kitchen window weren't too bad:

Meanwhile, Ross & Ev scope out a line:

The revelation of the trip for me was kite-skiing. I had always sworn I would never get involved with kites having lost 2 friends to kite-surfing accidents in the mid 00's, but on the flat sea ice of the fjords they were a brilliant way to travel when the winds were playing ball - 5km cross-fjord in 8 minutes? Oh go on then!

Temperatures weren't as cold as Ross had experienced on his previous trip - we probably hit -20 or so during the first week, then gradually milder. Still glad to have plenty of warm kit... Neoprene overboots didn't get as much use as planned but were great for getting boots up to 'working temperature' before heading out (not my choice of colour...).

As soon as the wind blew every bit of skin needed to be covered though:

Opening ziplock bags with big mitts proved to be a challenge too far!

Most of our hot meals were freeze-dried - for fuel efficiency we had to avoid anything that might need washing up. Chipie is a chef though, so of course he came up with some high class improvised meals - Arctic MSR-grilled hot dogs:

Oh and the skiing, let's not forget the skiing...:

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