AUYUITTUQ NATIONAL PARK TRAVERSE
Pangnirtung to Summit Lake
Auyuittuq National Park in Canada’s eastern arctic has some of the most beautiful alpine scenery on earth. This backpacking expedition crosses the entire Akshayuk Pass including the rarely seen northern section in the Owl River valley. We meet in Qikitarjuaq, a remote Inuit hamlet on an small island off the north coast of Baffin Island. Local Inuit will take us by motor boat to the end of North Pangnitung Fiord. From here we’ll help each other put on our packs for the first steps south on our 97 KM journey. We begin with the ascent of the Owl River Valley to the top of the pass 500 metres above the sea. As we penetrate the mountains we’ll pass melting glaciers extending from the enormous Penny Ice Cap. Between Glacier and Summit Lakes the magical cylindrical tower of Mount Asgard draws us to the top of the pass. Then we begin the long descent of the Weasel River valley. Mount Thor, 1500 metres above us, is said to have the longest uninterrupted cliff face in the world. We’ll pass Windy Lake before crossing the arctic circle. Then it is on past Crater Lake towards our final destination at Overlord, a majestic peak overlooking thec trailhead on the shore of Cumberland Sound. Joavee Alivakyuk will meet us here and take us by boat to his home village of Pangnirtung. The Auyuittuq Traverse is a suitable expedition for any reasonably fit and adventurous hiker with previous experience on a multi-night hiking trip. We will be carrying full packs and in places the route is challenging, but the efforts of this adventure are profusely rewarded.
This trip is the perfect introduction to the arctic environment and polar expeditions. It’s also a wonderful occasion to learn more about Inuit culture, the people who were their millions years ago. Let’s get captivated by this pristine environment and rugged summit of the Arctic in the heart of a magnificent territory: Nunavut. It will be the trip of a lifetime.
- Experience an arctic trip with jaw dropping wilderness landscapes of the Canadian Arctic
- Visit the small Inuit communities of Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung
- Walk on the heart of the giant, on the foot of Mount Asgard (2015m) and Thor, emblematic mountains of Nunavut!
- A challenging yet rewarding hiking adventure
- Inuit Art and sculptors
- Boat ride to and from Baffin Island
- Explore Iqaluit: Nunavut’s capital city
hotel H in double occupancy. (Included meals: D)
We take a morning flight departing from Ottawa to Iqualuit, Nunavut’s Capital city. First named Frobisher Bay from the explorer who discovers this bay, Iqualuit is now the hub of Nunavut. In the afternoon, we take our next flight to Pangnirtung where we have the chance to see from the air, our traverse of the next days! After meeting our guide at the airport, we get ready for the trip and gear check for the next days boat trip to Baffin Island. Overnight at Auyuittuq Lodge. Dinner. Evening spent relaxing or exploring some of the community.
camping (Included meals: B,L,D)
In the morning we will board the boat to Overlord in Baffin island (approx.. 80 km). The discovery of Baffin’s coastline could present us with all sorts of surprises such as bowhead whales, polar bears, seals and unique bird life. The afternoon will be spent getting used to the new surroundings which will be our home for the next 12 days. Our first camp will be set up next to a special purpose-built security cabin. There are ten of these emergency shelters constructed along the trail that we will follow. Although we are not supposed to camp inside these shelters, we will use them as our community room, for cooking and relaxing. Sleeping accommodation will be in high quality two-person tents.
camping (Included meals: B,L,D)
From the park’s entrance on South Pangnirtung Fjord, we will hike to the top of the pass (elevation 500 meters or 1,640 ft) at Summit Lake, a total distance of 70 km.
In the middle of the hike, we cross up to the foot of Mount Thor (1200m vertical cliff).
On our way, if time permits, we might try and tackle some short climbs to some small lakes created by the foot of glaciers (Windy and Crater Lakes).
If conditions are good, the group will continue along the shore of the lake to the Turner Glacier for a view of Mt. Asgard - this adds another 20 km or so to the route. When we are at the Summit Lake, we make go back to Overlord by the Weasel River Valley.
Hotel accomocation, not included in the fee.
Our last day in the park takes place with a nice breakfast and free time before breaking up camp. Photo opportunities and lunch in Overlord. In early afternoon an Inuit guide will pick-up us up by motorboat and transfer the group to Pangnirtung (1.5 hour transfer). Check into the Auyuittuq Lodge, and hit the well-deserved showers! Discover Panginating on foot and the art gallery. Pangnirtung is known to have some of the best Inuit Art across Nunavut. Diner is included with a local Inuit family with great sampling of country food.
End of morning flight south to Ottawa. End of trip.
- Airport transfers in Qikiqtarjuaq and Pagnirtung
- 1 night hotel in Qikiqtarjuaq
- 12 nights camping in Auyuittuq national park
- All meals as mentioned above
- Transfer from Qikiqtarjuaq by motorboat to North Pagnirtung Fjord
- Transfer from Overlord by motorboat to Pagnirtung
- 1 Canadian hiking guide
- Satellite phone for emergencies
- Flight : Ottawa / Pond Inlet, return *
- Travel insurance
- Expenses due to canceled flights (accommodation and meals)
- Expenses due to canceled flights (accommodation and meals)
- Personal expenses
- Taxes (GST - 5%)
*we can book flights for you to get to/from Pond Inlet from Ottawa. DO NOT BOOK NON REFUNDABLE FLIGHTS WITHOUT CHECKING AVAILABILITY WITH US BEFORE
Groups are comprised of people from various part of the world, with different nationalities and backgrounds. Bilingual tours are given in both French and English.
A Canadian hiking leader who knows the area extremely well Auyuittuq national park will lead the tour. On most expeditions there will be an assistant guide as well. The guides are always ready to provide coaching and helpful advice on any aspect of the trip and will attempt to maximize the spirit of adventure for each individual. Your safety is their prime concern and your guide will make decisions with this in mind. We must stress that listening carefully to instructions and directions given by the guide is your responsibility and in the best interest of you and the group.
Information about activities / Physical level
This trip is suitable for the adventurous hiker, in good health with some previous wilderness camping and hiking experience. Typically our hikers are 40-65 years old but we have had fit older hikers enjoy this expedition. For much of the route there is no trail and in places the footing difficult and very uneven. There is considerable elevation change. There will be some challenging stream crossings. Expect 10 days of hiking with heavy packs – averaging about 10 km per day. Packs weigh perhaps 65 pounds although the weight is adjusted to reflect each hiker’s abilities, and they get lighter as we consume our food and fuel. Much of the trip is in an area of extreme isolation. If you were injured or became ill it may sometime before you receive outside medical treatment. Anyone with recurring medical issues or chronic injuries should consult their physician before applying for this expedition. At the campsite everyone pitches in with setting up tents, preparing meals, telling stories etc. The guides co-ordinate things and are always ready to assist you in any tasks. They will provide expert coaching and lots of personal attention. Feel free to call our office to discuss your suitability for this trip.
Hotels in communities and camping along the Akshayuk pass
D1 – Hotel in Qikiqtarjuaq
D2-D13 – Camping along the Akshayuk pass
14 – Hotel in Pagnirtung (overnight in Pagnirtung not included in the tour price)
Meals are cooked over camping stoves from a combination of fresh, dried and freeze-dried products. Our light weight ovens allow us to bake breads, muffins and desserts. Breakfasts generally consist of fruit, cereal (either hot or cold) and main course such as blueberry pancakes or breakfast burritos. At lunch you will enjoy a selection of breads (rye bread, bagels, tortillas) with cheese, dried salami, tuna salad … and of course, good old peanut butter and jam. This would be followed up by granola bars or dried fruit. Dinner consists of hors d’oeuvers, followed by a main course then dessert. Main courses may be a pasta-based dish such as Pesto-Pine Nut Fuselli, or a rice based meal such as an Oriental Stir Fry. On cooler days, a hearty mug of steaming soup is always available, as well as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cold drinks.
We encourage participants to contribute as much as you wish to meal preparation. The guides are more than happy to share their expertise around the campfire kitchen … it is always a fun part of the day and an opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and stories. If you have a food allergy or a significant dietary restriction you must inform our office. You may be required to assist in your food planning and preparation. Given the remoteness of the route, the implications could be profound if you could not eat the food or became seriously ill.
The area is classified as an Arctic Mountain and Fiord Climate Zone. In the 24 hour darkness of mid winter the average day time low is a punishing -33°C. In early August it is light during the day and things have warmed up considerably. Nonetheless this is a cool and windy destination. Expect the day time high to average something like 12°C (54°F) with night time lows of perhaps 4°C (39°F). The record highs and lows range from +25°C (77°F) to -2°C (28°F) during the dates of the expedition. Winds can make it feel colder. The average wind speed is 14 km/h. Expect some wind every day. It rains on average 4 out of 10 days but the total precipitation in August is only 80% of Toronto or New York City. It snows once in August on average. It is light about 12 hours a day with bright sun perhaps 6.5 hours per day. All in all the weather is quite cool although in recent years the temperatures have been above average. Warm clothes, and wind wear are essential.