Around the world... the hard way...

The Auyuittuq Expedition

Auyuittuq route In going through the Auyuittuq National Park, a Canadian wilderness park in the Arctic Circle, the team were by themselves. They had undertaken their polar training, but this was it: putting it to the test in the middle of nowhere. Of course, safety was paramount and they were equipped with an Iridium satellite phone together with personal locator beacons in case of any emergency. But, if things do go wrong in the middle of the Arctic wilderness, the situation can easily deteriorate, so this was a perfect place to put everything they had learned over previous years into practice as well as test all their equipment in order to know what will be best for their future plans.

They started off in the community of Qikiqtarjuaq, well north of the Arctic Circle and worked their way south from there to Pangnirtung in a journey of over 200km. The pass through which they traveled was effectively a narrow valley, which acts as a wind tunnel, making the journey even harder. The lowest the temperature got as they were on the route was -50C in the middle of one of the frequent gales that blew through it. But at the same time, the journey was spectacular and more importantly, really helped the team to build their confidence in travelling through the extreme Arctic environment – after all, facing such conditions on the Arctic ocean and on Antarctica will be the norm, and those areas will be even more isolated…


Blog posts from the Auyuittuq journey

Day 16: Back to Iqaluit

The morning of our last day in the Auyuittuq region was spent getting our stuff ready, speaking with the Parks staff and also chatting with the team that passed us on the penultimate day of trekking. They were booked in to the flight for the following day, though were desperate to leave early so one […]

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Day 15: the Grand Entrance

The final morning just outside Pang was again slightly sombre. I was a little tired – there had been a bit of a storm over night that cause me to wake up as the wind battered the tent again, though fortunately it all kept together. Nobody wants to be made tent-less even only just a […]

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Day 14: Towards Pang

Leaving the final section of the part was a little sad. We could see the spectacular mountains behind us and the route we had gone along stretching back into the distance, though it quickly narrowed and faded in the white. We didn’t spend too long looking back – it was too cold – though when […]

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Day 13: Outward bound

Leaving the windy lake shelter and we were around 20km north of Overlord, the final “emergency shelter” and marker of the southern park entrance/exit. We expected it to be a smooth day as we had gone down most of the steepest terrain, so there couldn’t be too many frozen rapids or anything like that ahead […]

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Day 12: Windy Lake shelter

Getting to Windy Lake at the end of all of those nasty frozen rapids was a relief, though things did not completely ease up on us. When we got there, there was an incredibly little amount of snow to camp on. The hard ice of the lake was completely exposed and there were only little […]

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Day 11: A speedy recovery

Following the trauma of seeing actual unfrozen water going over our feet and freezing onto the bottom of the pulks, we actually slept pretty well over the night. What was interesting, however, was at around 9pm a group of four skidoos coming from the direction we had travelled from, down the river we would go along […]

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Day 10: Just when we thought it was getting easy

Not many photographs from this day – just from the end when it had all calmed down. We were just a bit more concerned about not breaking our necks and killing ourselves on the ice than we were in recording everything. Shame really as there would have been some great video to take. We knew from […]

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Day 9: Over the top

Finally, we got over the moraine. It was tough going up it, though on the morning of our ninth day we got through the last 1.5km as the rocks became slightly easier to get through and it was reasonably quick to find channels to pull our pulks along. There was just one final little challenge, […]

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Day 8: Struggling up the moraine

The wind insisted on blowing strong throughout the eighth day of our expedition through Auyuittuq National Park, and we weren’t particularly looking forward to getting out of the tent in the morning. Hearing the tent being buffeted around by it all just reminded us that soon it would be us having to go into those […]

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Day 7: The weather turns

After six days of pretty gorgeous weather, it finally turned on us probably at the most inconvenient moment possible – when we were going up the moraine. After the beautiful day beforehand when we ventured up into this labyrinth of rock and ice, it changed as it had on the last occasion at night when […]

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Day 6: On to the moraine

From our encampment just after the June Valley emergency shelter we had a splendid view down through the valley network to the spectacular Mount Asgard in the distance. Still a long way away, but very prominent and almost directly west. We could see rocky ground rising up in front of it and, with it being […]

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Day 5: Past June Valley

Another beautiful day in paradise as we got up again, early in the morning and completed 13km over the course of our skiing. The landscape we were going through really started to stand taller above us as we left our encampment. Incredible, tall and towering rock faces looking over us. With very little contextual information […]

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Day 4: On from Owl River

Another morning and another day of calm and beautiful conditions in the middle of nothingness. -30C or so… a little bit nippy, but nothing too bad! It sounds strange but whenever it did get warmer than -30C, we did feel a bit hot… but anyway! This days was a bit of a frustrating one, though […]

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Day 3: Outward bound

The winds died down in the evening of previous day and stayed calm throughout the night. As we swtiched the stoves and got into our sleeping bags, it was nice to think that we would be going properly in the morning if it stayed calm. And it did stay calm, allowing us to get up […]

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Day 2: tent-bound

After being left to our own devices at the north end of the frozen fiord that enters into the Auyuittuq National Park, we set up tent, melted ice for water, cooked and settled down to sleep and to get ready for the second day and our journey south. Just as we were getting into our […]

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The beginning of the Auyuittuq Expedition

After a week kite skiing and preparation, we were finally ready to leave to Auyuittuq. Confidence had been restored and we felt comfortable enough going out into the wilderness by ourselves on this 210km journey through the Arctic circle. Though the frost-bite in the toe was a worry, we felt we could contain it and […]

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