The Destination is along the Route
Seven weeks beyond every trace of civilization, traveling by sleigh and snowkite, constantly exposed to the threat of polar bears: these are the conditions which will face Stefan Glowacz and Robert Jasper on their next expedition, which will take them to Canada’s Baffin Island on 20 april,2008.
Check out www.baffinexpedition.com
The world’s untrammeled places have become rarities. Most of the formerly white spots in the Earth’s
atlases have already been mapped, explored and settled.
Nonetheless, a few such locations still exist – mystical places that have never felt the tread of human feet. Stefan Glowacz, Robert Jasper, Klaus Fengler, Holger Heuber and Mariusz Hoffman plan to discover a few such virgin venues between Greenland and the northern coast of Canada, on the world’s fifth largest island: Baffin Island.
“Were it not for the ambition of an alpine expedition, which came in a vision, no new and difficult
peaks would be conquered.” Stefan Glowacz
The Search for the White Spot on the Map
The American photographer Eugene Fisher flew over the region around Baffin Island several times in the 1990s. His aerial photographs are thus far the only close-up renditions of jewel-like, unexplored cliffs on the eastern coast of Baffin Island, where they await a new generation of climbing discoverers. The goal of the upcoming expedition is to locate these treasures and to begin exploring them along a challenging freeclimbing route.
Following in the footsteps of the Inuit, i.e. the Eskimo ethnic group that lives in the Arctic in northeastern
Canada, this expedition’s team members will journey through the settlement of Clyde River on their way
to Pond Inlet, where the alpinists will bid adieu to civilization and pack their sleighs. With the help of local
Inuits, they’ll then begin a trek 240-kilometer trek to the fjords. Traveling with the local hunters’ snowmobiles, the team will continue along the eastern coast and across sea ice to their chosen destination: Querbitter Fjord, an entirely unexplored region with towering cliff faces more than 1,000 meters tall.
The Vision of the Ultimate Cliffside
The alpinists do not yet know the exact topography of the escarpment they plan to climb, but they know their route must cross it. Afterwards they’ll select one of the many peaks in Querbitter Fjord and spend more than two weeks living, climbing and sleeping on the rock face. They’ll be equipped with only enough food and beverages for 16 days: this is the length of time the climbers will have to make their vertical dream come true.
There are no roads on Baffin Island. Mobility depends on the season, and travel is possible only by foot,
sleigh or snowmobile. Unlike their approach to the site, the team will opt to do without snowmobiles for their return trek toward civilization. They’ll travel the 340-kilometer route solely with the aid of snowkites and skis. They’ll load their equipment onto sleighs, which they’ll pull along behind them. Their destination will be Clyde River in the southern part of the island. A fortnight is planned for the return journey, which will be unimaginably
strenuous in the frigid cold of the Canadian Arctic.
Polar bears, which are especially prevalent around Querbittter Fjord in the springtime, are a dire and ever-present threat. To prevent the bears from plundering the team’s provisions, all of the equipment will have to be pulled up onto the selected cliff face. Potable water poses another logistical challenge. The escarpment is so steep that no snow will be available for the climbers to melt, so they’ll have to carry their entire cache of frozen water (circa 300liters) along with them onto the cliff wall right from the start.
Harsher and More Mystical than Patagonia
Baffin Island is located between Greenland and the northern coast of Canada. Tundra and swampy landscapes cover most of the western part of the island; deep, snow-filled valleys subdivide its eastern portion. These orges descend toward Baffin Bay, a northern marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, forming a unique series of wilderness fjords with extremely steep walls of gneiss and granite that rise to heights of as much as 1,600 meters.
Climbers have already visited the fjords immediately to the east of the settlement of Clyde River, but the
more distant fjords still remain untouched. This is a dream destination for climbers and adventurers, fully
on a par with Trango Towers in Pakistan or the granite pinnacles in Patagonia.