Big Baffin Action

Cold Front
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Cold Front
Cold Front, April 2005

While ski tourers and climbers have been exploring Baffin Island, the world's fifth-largest, since the early 1970s, ski mountaineers have only recently begun to embrace its true potential. Almost four times the size of England, Baffin is a frozen hinterland of sprawling glaciers, sheer granite cliffs, and couloirs that makes even the most seasoned adventurers drool. Andrew Mclean, who has been ski-kiting and peak-bagging on the island for the past three years, has described one of Baffin's classics, the Polar Star Couloir, as "possibly the best skiing couloir on earth, and worth a trip to the area on its own. And between Auyuittuq National Park on the Cumberland Peninsula and the east coast's majestic fjordland, there are literally hundreds of peaks, many of which have yet to be climbed, let alone skied. Last year, a group (led by this writer) made the 5,100-foot-long and relatively mellow (average pitch: 30 to 35 degrees) powder-choked first descent of Baffin's tallest peak, 7,042-foot Mount Odin. This April and May, a half-dozen groups have expeditions planned.