A weeklong backcountry ski tour through Nunavik’s Parc national Kuururjuaq? Sounds like a good springtime adventure to us.
Up north, spring is the new winter. With daytime temperatures rising to bearable levels and daylight hours similar to what southerners see this time of year — yet snowpack still in full effect — Nunavik truly shines in springtime. And we’re going to experience it first-hand. In early April, explore magazine is joining operator Karavaniers du Monde and Nunavik Parks on a scouting mission for a new ski route through the park; a route that will be sold to the public as a guided trip in the 2014/2015 season.
We’ll be setting out from Kangiqsualujjuaq via snowmobile into Parc national Kuururjuaq at which point we’ll strap on our skis. We’ll sleep in an inuit tent, hoping the Northern Lights bless us with their presence at least one night. And we’ll get up-close and personal with the True North Strong and Free as we traverse the tundra day-after-day.
Keep posted for new videos on our YouTube channel, to be uploaded late-April, as well as a full-length feature article in the Winter 2014 issue of explore.
Compressing what will be sold as a two-week excursion into a one-week trip, our itinerary is a fast-paced Arctic adventure. Weather ultimately dictates our progress, but the tentative route will take us from Kangiqsualujjuaq into Parc national Kuururjuaq via snowmobile, where we’ll overnight at a tent camp before skiing further into the park to the main camp the next day. From there, near the base of the Torngat Mountains, we’ll explore the surrounding regions for four more days via ski before sledding back to Kangiqsualujjuaq.
While skiing across the tundra, we’ll also be testing and evaluating several new products. After all, what better place to test winter gear than Arctic Quebec? Keep an eye out for full reviews of the below products (and more) in future issues of explore. Here are some of the feature items we’ll be testing during the ski:
Canada Goose Ridge Pants, Timber Shell & Hybridge Lite
While exploring the Arctic, it only makes sense to wear gear from a company with Arctic pedigree. Famous for their parkas, Canada Goose’s Technical Shells are newer to market. The three-layer hard-shell jacket (Timber Shell) and pants (Ridge Pants) are waterproof/breathable, seam-sealed, reinforced and reflective — but what sets them apart is that they also feature four-way stretch throughout, making these shells ideal for active outdoor pursuits like backcountry skiing. Add in the highly packable, ultra-lightweight Hybridge Lite — a half-pound puffy featuring super-breathable Polartec stretch panels, thumb-hooks and 800 fill goose down — and we should have the perfect system to keep us warm and dry while still breathing well and allowing a full-range of motion on this backcountry trek.
The first thing I noticed about the SPOT Gen3 Personal Locator Beacon is how small and light it is; it sits easily within my palm and weighs about as much as my mobile phone. As with all SPOT beacons, you can summon a rescue from remote locations — and this one lets you send an “all OK” or customized message home, or even summon help from home without notifying search-and-rescue (handy when you just need a helping hand, not the cavalry). Where the Gen3 really shines is in its motion activated tracking — it tracks at a chosen rate for as long as the device is turned on and moving. (This helps conserve battery life.) Your progress can be viewed online, publically or privately. It’ll come in handy in Nunavik — in fact, carrying a personal locator beacon is mandatory in Nunavik’s parks. This is real wilderness!
Osprey Kode 22+10 ABS
Osprey’s soon-to-be-released Kode 22+10 backcountry “snowplay” backcountry pack practically has too many features. Practically. Featuring glove-friendly buckles and zippers, diagonal ski carry system (horizontal for snowboards), ice-tool loop, scratch-free goggle pocket, helmet carry, cleverly reinforced wear points, wet/dry gear separators, insulated hydration hose sleeve and an extra-large pocket for avalanche gear — it’s clear Osprey designers listen to the backcountry skier’s needs. Plus, it is ABS compatible for added avalanche safety (ABS Vario base unit is sold separately. We’re big fans of the ABS system — 97 per cent of people who deploy it an avalanche live to tell the tale.) Whether zipped down to 22 litres or puffed out to 32, this ergonomic pack should serve us well on this trek.
Adidas Outdoors Climaheat Terrex Ice
If the mercury really starts to drop, or during après camp-time (hopefully while viewing the Northern Lights), Adidas Outdoors’ Climaheat Terrex Ice jacket will surely keep Old Man Winter at bay. Filled with Primaloft Down Gold — a 70 per cent goose down/30 per cent Primaloft blend noted for water-resistance and wet-warmth retention — with an uber-breathable liner made from recycled coconut shells, full-motion-range and designed for extreme cold weather, this new-for-fall mountaineering/climbing puffy is tailor-made for the worst our north country can dish out.