Baffin expedition dispatch #5

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3 weeks have passed now since we arrived in Baffin Island. Our first encounter with the local population already happened miles away from the coast we met 8 polar bears drifting on chunks of pack ice. It was quite a surprise running into them while weaving through dismantling pack ice in thick mist. After a quick stop in Clyde River for clearing canadian border formalities, we set sail to the big walls of Sam Ford Fjord . Right away our minds were blown away by the amount of huge rock faces and how little this place has been explored.  It feels incredibly wild here, beautiful but also very powerful making us feel small and somehow vulnerable.
 
Despite of our daily jam sessions, the weather conditions haven’t been cooperating very much. In 3 weeks we haven’t had more than 24h of good weather! We did go climbing but it was full on adventure with snow storms, strong wind and loose rocks. It wasn’t really what we had expected but it did enhance the experience a little.
 
A week after we had arrived in Sam Ford Fjord, we received our first visit by another sailboat. The weather had made it impossible to climb so all we had done was jamming. As Navaro was a much bigger boat they kindly invited us for dinner. But they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. For desert we brought our musical instruments and jammed away as the wine was flowing. It was a powerful evening because at last we could perform and enjoy the fruit of all the hours of practice. When the concert was done, the weather cleared up and we made the impulsive,  not so wise but wine induced decision to go climbing at 10pm.

Energy levels were high thanks to the music and the wine and Oli and Nico started a 1000m rock pillar while Ben and Sean chose a smaller (600m) but steep rock feature across the Fjord. When we sobered up mid ways through the night we realized what we got ourselves into but we kept riding the positive vibes of the evening. Slowly the weather deteriorated and by midday we were climbing in a snow storm. Fortunately for Ben and Sean, by that time they were already on the final pitch of their feature and were enjoying the snow flakes which reminded them of Christmas time. But Oli and Nico had still a long way to go. After 20 pitches and the snow building up on the ledges they finally turned around and thought about trying again but this time sober and in better weather.
They did and it helped!       
 
All in all we managed to put up 4 really nice new routes from 600m to 1000m climbed in non-stop climbing push some of them up to 36h long. We also failed a couple more times due to the weather or loose rocks which made us appreciate even more when we did pull it off. 
 
After one of the climbs Sean and Ben got stuck for 5 days because the sea was too rough to come pick them up with the boat. They had to put their survival skills to practice especially as the fishing didn’t prove to be very successful.  They slept with a flare between them to protect themselves from the possible attack of polar bear.   
 
On the boat, the challenge has been to find good sheltered anchorage because the fjords are very deep and the wind changes direction all the time. Sometimes we used three different anchors and a line to shore to keep us safe while by night a watch system had to be kept to anticipate any failure of the anchor system. 
 
Today we are sailing north, to the big walls of Gibbs Fjord under perfect blue skies. It’s the best weather we have had so far in Baffin Island so we hope it will hold on a bit more.We feel the winter is slowly coming back with temperature steadily dropping and daylight diminishing rapidly. The north faces are covered with fresh snow.  We want to climb more… Let see!
 
Greetings from the sea,
 
Nico, Sean, Oli and Ben 

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