Polar Star Couloir

In an area teeming with world-class ski lines the Polar Star Couloir has become a true icon of couloir skiing.

Ski Touring Extreme

Distance
1.9 km
Ascent
872 m
Descent
872 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
23 m
High Point
896 m
Gradient
54˚
Polar Star Couloir Map

In the far-off and otherworldly landscape of the Baffin fiord-lands, there is perhaps the highest concentration of incredibly long and skiable couloirs to be found anywhere on the planet. Amongst these formidable granite walls split by endless couloirs, Polar Star stands out for how utterly compelling and mesmerising it is to look at. Laser cut into Polar Sun Spire it slices cleanly though one of the world’s very largest sea cliffs. The quality of the skiing is also impeccable; north facing, cold chalky snow or compact powder is virtually guaranteed and you'll find 1,100m of 40-50 degree skiing in a couloir which is never too narrow to make fluid turns. The top 300 meters are quite steep and snow doesn’t always stick to the permanent ice underneath. After the top section the skiing is relatively straightforward while the ambiance is anything but ordinary. No superlative adjectives can do justice to the colossal scale of both the towering spire and its splitter couloir.

Description

Polar Star Couloir was first skied (and thus named) by the visionary and exploratory steep skier Andrew Maclean. It has since become a global classic, yet the term ‘classic’ is something of a misnomer. It is in a remote and inhospitable arctic wilderness and therefore sees very little traffic. The only way to ski it is to commit to a full expedition into the Baffin fiords, which is both expensive and requiring of considerable logistical planning. Baffin is not a well-known ski destination and it really defies logic that world class alpine skiing should indeed take place at all on the world’s 5th largest island. With a population of 15,000 and only a handful of ski expeditions arriving every few years it will remain indefinitely a remote wilderness.

Difficulty

Extreme

Extreme skiing terrain above 45 degrees. These routes are reserved for experienced experts.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

April, May

Features

  • Couloir
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area