The Ultimate Challenge
April 2002

The 2002 Expedition saw a team of five cross the Ashayuk Pass from Pangnirtung to Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island) in seven and a half days and raise £10,000 for the Mitchemp Trust.  We were the first group to travel the route in this direction this year.  The entire journey was 140 miles and the average temperature was -22°C.

We experienced temperatures down to -43c (including wind chill), high winds and glorious sunshine.  From Pangnirtung we travelled along the sea ice towards the start of the pass, wide open ice plains and distant mountains were the back drop to the start of this incredible adventure.

As we entered the pass we realised that the majority of snow had been blown off the route, leaving incredible ice formations that would never cease to amaze.  The skis would not work on this terrain and so we adapted to walking with the sledges, progress was generally good. 

We followed the course of the Weasel River, past Crater Lake and on towards Windy Lake.  This aptly named area lived up to all expectations.  In this narrow section of the pass the wind funnels through and the wind speed increases rapidly, it started to pick up grit from the rock walls and we then found ourselves in the middle of a dust storm.  The wind was strong enough send us sliding back in the direction we had come and after some hard work and determination we managed to find ourselves a camp site for the night.

With the weather improving the next day we headed on towards Mount Thor, this remarkable mountain has the tallest uninterrupted cliff face in the world and looks like something from the lost world.  This area of the route combines steep rock walls and blue ice glaciers hanging from the sides of the valley.  Although the speed of travel with the sledges is slow and steady, this journey is truly a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences.



We then arrived at Summit Lake, the highest point on the journey, the wide expanses provided contrast to the confines of the Weasel River.  As the landscape opened up we could see Turner Glacier which marks the route to Mount Asgard.  This unforgettable mountain with its steep face and flat snowy summit rises high above the surrounding peaks.  It is one the many lasting memories that stay with you.

The Owl River now provided our route towards the North Pangnirtung Fiord and the completion of our journey.  We started to realise that our expedition would soon be over and that our time in this special place would be coming to a close.  It is undoubtedly one of the most stunning and raw places I have ever been. 

We eventually arrived at the Emergency Shelter at North Pangnirtung Fiord and met our two Inuit guides on Skidoos.  With all our equipment loaded onto one sledge and the entire team tucked into the other, we set off for Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island).  Three and a half hours later we arrived at our lodge and the finish of the trip.


For details of the 2003 event
contact Mark Davey