Weekend Warm-Up: Baffin

In 2016, filmmaker Joshua Lavigne followed Marc-André Leclerc and his partner, Brette Harrington, crossed a frozen Baffin Bay by snow machine to the monster granite walls of the Stewart Valley on eastern Baffin Island. The pair’s ambition: to free climb Great Sail Peak.

The climbing community discovered the world-class climbing in this enclave on the world’s tenth largest island about 30 years ago. Since then, big-wall aspirants have flocked to the Stewart Valley and adjacent Sam Ford Fiord and Gibbs Fiord to tackle the highest cliffs in the world. Some of these erupt almost 5,000 feet out of the frozen ocean. Arctic cold and potential visits from polar bears add to the challenges of this remote location.

Sail Peaks, Baffin Island. Great Sail Peak is far right. Photo: Jerry Kobalenko

Even at age four, Marc-André wanted to be an explorer. “I imagined thrashing through the jungle with an explorer hat on an Indiana Jones-type mission,” he recalled then.

Tragically, a year and a half after this Baffin climb, Marc-André Leclerc disappeared on an expedition in Alaska. The film is dedicated to the memory of this gifted climber, whose accomplishments were beginning to attract wide notice.


Marc demonstrates why he was referred to as the ‘secret weapon’ for his funky mix of aid climbing and free climbing.