Another Backyard Adventure for Erik Boomer and Sarah McNair-Landry

In recent years, adventure polymaths Erik Boomer and Sarah McNair-Landry have mashed together their skills in sledding, kite skiing, couloir skiing, rock climbing, and kayaking. The result has been a series of envy-inducing adventure “vacations” in their Baffin Island backyard.

This spring, the arctic veterans teamed up with Brady Johnstone for 25 days of climbing, couloir skiing, and kite skiing. The trio headed to a remote fiord on the east coast of Baffin Island on May 12.

Around 100km north of the Inuit hamlet of Clyde River lie spectacular Sam Ford Fiord and neighboring Stewart Valley. For over three decades, climbers and skiers from around the world have made pilgrimages to the region’s sea cliffs. These pillars rise from the water to over 1,000m in height.

Imagine a giant had plucked the granite monoliths of Yosemite Valley and dropped them on the shores of a frozen Arctic shoreline, and you’ll get some idea of the scale and uniqueness of this remote adventure Mecca.

Big walls and classic couloirs

Having dabbled in big-wall climbing in recent years, Boomer and McNair-Landry set their sights on the striking Polar Sun Spire, one of these 1,300m sea cliffs. They summited with Johnstone via “amazing splitter” climbing, at a grade of 5.11. The Spire was first climbed in 1996 over 39 days by an American team that included Mark Synnott.

Not satisfied with simply going up, Boomer and McNair-Landry also skied down the classic Polar Star Couloir. A 1,100m, 40-50 degree chute laser cut into the granite walls of Beluga Spire. They also shredded deep powder in other long couloirs in the valley.

A striking snow filled couloir splits the large sea cliff of Beluga Spire, Baffin Island

Polar Star Couloir. Photo: Tom Grant

 

During their 25-day sojourn, they kite-skied between peaks and over to the Stewart Valley. They lucked out with clear late-spring weather and even managed to fit in some casual bouldering on the big blocks along the shoreline.

Ash Routen

Ash Routen is a writer for ExplorersWeb. He has been writing about Arctic travel, mountaineering, science, camping, hiking, and outdoor gear for 6 years. As well as ExplorersWeb, he has written for Red Bull, Outside, The Guardian, and many other outlets. Based in Leicester, UK, Routen is an avid backpacker and arctic traveler who writes about the outdoors around a full-time job as an academic.