Skiing with Polar Bears
I love skiing on Baffin Island - it feels like you're still a polar explorer. In a modern world where nearly all summits have been climbed, all expeditions successfully completed, the world "Explorer" is often overused. Today, we're adventurers.
Many of the mountains (in our tenure) on Baffin have yet to be summited (or named!), lines that have yet to be skiied. It's virgin territory for a skier. The land that holds deep fjords, spectacular ice caps and is devoid of human life. You're very likely to run into a polar bear before seeing another person.
One of my favorite stories of our 2016 spring ski season on Baffin was a new peak we wanted to scout for heli-skiing. A peak that had yet to be skied - directly on the edge of Baffin Bay, overlooking the Arctic ocean, this mountain begged to be skied. The goal was to skin up, map the potential line for heli-skiing and add-it to the ever growing playground we've spent nearly three years expanding.
The day started with muyself and fellow guide Drew crusing up to the base of the mountain on sleds (snowmobiles), with binoculars, inspecting the potential line. Eager to ski and already debating names for the peak, we set forward with our skins and far too much enthusiasm - push to the top. Our house rule when climbing a peak for the first time - first ascent means first to name. If it has no name on a map, no record of being climbed or skied, then you get to name the peak.
Now, this only works when you've not been beaten to the top - the peak in question was summited by a polar bear, only hours before our arrival to the base! This polar bear had climbed the mountain (to about 3,000 feet), walking up a glacier, around crevasses, did a victory lap at the top, then walked back down to the ocean and out to sea! In honour of this decidedly adventurous polar bear, we named the peak "Bear Skin Peak" - for the lovely track he created sliding down the mountainside on his behind!
Following polar bear tracks on the climb up.
Summit views. Perfect.
Evening descent to the bottom.
Tessum Weber, athlete and former ski racer, was born to be an adventurer. In the Arctic from the age of six weeks, he is now regarded as one of the foremost Arctic guides and experienced Arctic travellers. One of the world’s most eligible candidates for leading polar expeditions with international clients, his experience ranges from technical projects that include leading sea kayaking trips, ski expeditions and hiking/trekking trips to logistical projects such as working with film crews in remote regions. Tessum holds an undergraduate degree in commerce and devotes his time to working in the family business, Arctic Watch and sister lodge Arctic Haven while also recently launching the world's northernmost heli-skiing. In 2010, Tessum became the youngest person to ever trek to the North Pole.