Naujaat beats the odds, partially

My first telemark ski trip has almost every year been on Naujaat, a mountain that is directly across from Pangnirtung. Naujaat means seagulls in Inuktitut. A moderately smart person would at this point assume that it may be because there are seagulls around there. The moderately smart person would be correct.

The peak named after seagulls has never offered good skiing except for the not-too-steep slopes that it offers for an easy first run. It's a rocky face that is usually quite wind-swept. Whatever snow accumulates there is usually brushed off by constant winds, leaving rocks exposed.

My typical memories from Naujaat include hard face plants on crusty snow with soft or hollow snow underneath. It's got, to be honest, shitty snow plus rocks. Not the greatest of combination but better than staying home and watching TV. Skis regularly break through the inch thick crust and dive under, resulting in a harsh and unpleasant stop on the face. You have to break the snow from over the skis to get them back out again.

Well, not last weekend. At least as far as snow was concerned. While there may not have been that much snow, it was mostly powder. Last weekend we did two runs on Naujaat and both times had big smiles on our faces at the bottom. Excellent conditions despite the rather hard temperatures around -30 C!

The cold temperatures, and the lack of winds recently, may be why the snow was still loose and unconsolidated. We only had contend with the sneaky rocks covered in seagull crap that bang hard and suddenly onto your skis, carving out foot-long deep grooves and dull the egdes. And throw you on your face. That part of the classic Naujaat experience didn't fail.

Come, climate change, come. We could use a few meters of powder.

Photos feat. Kendra and Devin on the Sunday run.


An unlikely good ski.

In the first week of May we found ourselves faced with the last available weekend for a downhill ski. The snow conditions were deteriorating rapidly and so had the weather of late. Sunday morning Markus woke determined, as always. We were going for a ski and we were going to enjoy it! The last one of the season.

The weather was, well, rather miserable I have to say. I always have a difficult time admitting miserable weather because Markus is always so keen and I find it difficult to determine what exactly is a bad weather day when he's smiling so much. We drove the snowmachine into the hills behind our home just enough to have a decent start to the ski. When we were strapping on our skis the day was grey and the snow falling horizontally. I was not impressed.

As always, Markus was raring to go.

We started up slowly, me bringing up the rear. Within moments the wet snow was accumulating on the bottoms of our skis making for a very heavy load. I have to admit that I complained most of the way up. In my defense, I rarely complain and usually am keen for most of Markus' adventures. Truthfully, in these conditions I would have rather been curled up on the sofa with a blanket, hot tea and a good book! You would be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't feel the same.

We trudged and with every stop to catch our breath Markus negotiated my continuing on another little bit. And I continued. Before I knew it, were were as far as we could get. I guess the top was closer than it seemed with all my objections to reach it. Getting there so quickly made me feel better about the day and about being outside. The snow was scant and the boulders abundant. We surveyed our route down and removed our ski skins.

The descent was actually fantastic, much to my surprise and pleasure! Yes, I was smiling and once again grateful for the crazy man who always pushes me to my limits. The one who can find the joy in every type of weather and condition, as long as he is outside! It was a good last ski after all, and our hot tea at home tasted soooo good.


We were on Mt. We Were on the Mountain.

Mt. Angiuqqa (or Angiuqqaaq), also known as Boss Mountain, is a 1000 m peak located close to Pangnirtung. It's been our plan for a while to tackle it on skis and see what kinds of slopes it offers.

There is a little bit of confusion as to which mountain Angiuqqa actually is. It is the peak you can see very well when you approach town from on the fiord ("the boss of other mountains"). The problem is that there are a couple of peaks that are prominent and would easily qualify. We have heard a couple different interpretations of who the Boss is but we picked the one that one of Delia's colleagues had insisted was Angiuqqa.

Whatever mountain we were, that's the mountain I'm writing about. If it wasn't the mountain we were supposed to be on, I could call it Mt. We Were on the Mountain in which case we were on the Mt. We Were on the Mountain.

The approach looked easy from a distance but the peak itself looked quite steep. It looked like a great project.

We drove by skidoo to the base of the mountain and started ascending The day was a little foggy and first I lead us up the wrong ridge. We had to come down and drive another few clicks to the correct slope. Meanwhile, the fog cleared up and we could start seeing the peak.

Views from the ridge and from the top:

The descent was straightforward, nothing to report. The coolest part was the final slope which was quite steep but technically quite easy to get up on the skis. I did snap my ski pole in two in a low speed skiing accident. The best part was skiing past the skidoos all the way down to the valley below. We had to climb up a bit to get back to the vehicles.

The triangular peak is the peak of Angiuqqa/Mt. We Were on the Mountain.

While maybe not the greats ski of all times, it was a good practice run and aerobic exercise. Getting ready for the bigger peaks!

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