Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Pingualuit "Ski" Trip

I have just returned from a five day ski trip with the Cadets that took place at Pingualuit Park, which is located about 100km west of Kangiqsujuaq, Nunavik. (Arctic Quebec)  All twelve of us left Kangiqsujuaq on Monday the 29th of April by skidoo.  After dealing with some delays due to a broken drive belt we finally got off the sea ice and began our inland climb to a plateau of approximately 500m above sea level.  Once gaining around 100m of elevation we were in complete whiteout conditions to to snow and blowing snow.  Visibility varied from about 100' to 25' or less and winds were reported to be 70km/hr gusting to 120km/hr.  Our lead guide did a remarkable job of leading us through about 70km of flat, featureless white.  Of course this wouldn't have been possible without the convenience of GPS.  Cabins spaced at 30km intervals with inukshuks built in between all the cabins, save for the last stretch gave us an added measure of security should the GPS have any kind of failure.  Satellite phones and spot messengers also gave us a further security buffer.  We finally made it through the blizzard to our destination at Manarsulik camp by around 6:30pm.  Manarsulik camp is located about 2.5km north of the Pingualuit crater on Manarsulik lake.

Basically the crater was created by a significant meteor impact a long time ago.  There are no known meteor bits kicking around, but there are lots of melted bits of local granite, pock marked with holes.  The lake within the crater is called Pingualuk or pimple in Inuktittut and it is reported to have the 3rd clearest water in the world.  With very little salt of other minerals present in the water it is almost pure h2o.

for more details on the crater look here:

Day 2 brought us whiteout conditions again, this time caused by fog.  There was wind too, but this time only blowing around 15-20km/hr.  We skied to the the crater and back which made for a short 6km round trip.  Again, visibility was at about 50' at best and this was the first day of skiing ever for some of the cadets.  In complete whiteout conditions, even with goggles or sunglasses it is very difficult to see shape or form in the snow, which makes the slightest slopes quite intimidating for first time skiers.  Never the less the cadets did a great job and accepted the challenge gracefully even if we weren't all graceful on our feet. The afternoon was spent fishing by most of the cadets at Manarsulik lake. A few lake trout were caught as well as a landlocked char.  The skies cleared briefly in the evening and some of us took to the skis again and watched the sun set.

Day 3 we woke to nasty weather, temperature hovering above 0 celsius with a mix of rain and freezing rain coming down sideways.  It's a little hard to guess the winds without having any moving references on a flat frozen plain. But I'd guess a moderate gale, winds around the 60km/hr mark.  Complete whiteout again.  When goggles and sunglasses ice up in conditions where you can't see beyond 30' to begin with, you stay in camp.  Manarsulik camp has a wireless connection which was a great delight for the cadets on this stormbound day.

Day 4 cleared in the late morning and we fully embraced the sun.  The previous days' ice storm had left a glaze over everything, as a result we decided to use skidoos to explore the parks' sites while we had a chance.  We started by returning to the crater, which is beautiful when you can see it.  We decended to ice level, cut a hole and drank from it's crystal waters. We spent the remainder of the day exploring the Puvirnituq River canyon about 30km to the NNW of our base camp.

Day 5 Was awesome,  -18 celsius in the morning without any wind.  We had a wonderful trip back to Kangiqsujuaq and took a detour to a gorgeous canyon of a name unknown to me.  Perhaps in English the river within the canyon walls is called the Joy as it empties out into Joy Bay just south of Kangiqsujuaq.  This canyon has the steepest and most dramatic topography that the park has to offer.  We then drove dwon to sea level where 2 dog teams awaited our arrival.  With the qimutsitik's support the we all got a chance to go for a ride on the final stretch back to town....

Skiing in the fog on the way to the crater.

Landlocked char

Lake Pingualuk, the crater

Massiu, one of the guides about to chisel a hole for some of the purest water in the world.

The North end of Manarsulik Lake

Qimutsik on the sea ice, en route to Kangiqsujuaq

The final stretch, Kangiqsujuaq or Wakeham Bay in the distance.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like an amazing trip! And the photos look incredible!

    Although that first photo is a little bit scary. Skiing in the fog. i've done that many times and it's not pleasant. Can't how much worse it would be in a place like the Arctic Quebec.