OverviewMt. Odin is the undisputed king of the Penny Highlands. At 2147m Odin is the highest point on the island and the fifth highest point in Eastern North America after Barbeau Peak (on Ellesmere Island) at 2618m and three other peaks on Ellsemere.
Like many of its brother peaks Odin is found in Auyuittuq National Park along the Akshayuk Pass... just to the north and east of Mt. Tirokwa (known for its famous 800m headwall). Auyuittuq is a climber's and trekker's paradise. There are hundreds of routes up dozens of walls ranging between 500 and 1200 meters. Its uniquely shaped peaks are a geological wonder, and many when they first behold these peaks are thunderstruck...
If one is looking for a true wilderness experience this is also the place... because Odin is located above the Arctic Circle it experiences 24 hours of daylight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter. It is possible to wander for days without encountering another soul or seeing any traces of humanity... there are few places like this left on earth.
Like the other prominent peaks in the Penny Highlands Odin takes its name from Norse mythology... Odin was the father of Baldr and the consort of Frigga. He is the kind of the Norse Gods, the supreme deity, and creator of the cosmos and humankind. Odin is also the god of wisdom, war,art, culture and the dead. Odin is often assocaited with the teutonic God Woden.
Odin is climbed much less frequently than Asgard or Thor, but it still presents many challenges to expereinced climbers and has two or three walls that range between 5-700 meters in height. The walls however are less than vertcal and the rock is of poorer quality than what can be found on many of the other popular peaks in the park. Odin is popular though with peakbaggers and other interested in summitting highpoints.
Like Mt. Breidablick, Odin's summit is more accessible than many of the park's highest peaks. There exists a route up Odin's eastern slopes where one can follow the snowy ridges that snake up towards the summit. The route isn't very steep (no more than 50 degrees) though it is exposed in places with some precipitous drops on either side of its thin ridges.
At the base of Odin there are glacial tarns that in July are surprisingly warm... it is pretty common for parties to take some time out for a swim or a relaxing soak in one of Odin's tarns.
Odin is also known for its massive rockfalls that seem to occur consistently from day to day. it is not unheard of for huge boulders to roll all the way to base of the peak and end up in the Weasel River.
Odin was first climbed in 1953 by an Arctic Institute of North America party in 1953 lead by Baird and Marmet. This party pioneered some of the first climbs in the Arctic and was responsible for bringing this park to the attention of climbers around the world.
For more info. on the park and how to get there see the pages on Mt. Asgard and Mt. Thor.
***The majority of photos were used with permission from Neil Monteith and Colin Salias.
Getting ThereThis is most assuredly the most difficult part far and away, the costs involved can be somewhat prohibitive. Tour groups offer 15 day packages which can run in excess of $5000 CDN easily (especially in the winter)... but closer to $2500-3500 for most expeditions. The trick is to arrange a flight into Pangnirtung, quite often by way of Churchill Manitoba or Montreal.
To say that Auyuittuq is off the beaten path is more than a small understatement. It is incredibly remote. From Pangnirtung one must take a 30km boat ride (or if the fjord is frozen one must use a snowmobile) to the park entrance at the head of the Akshayuk Pass (which was once known as the Pangnirtung Pass). The route cuts across the Cumberland Peninsula and is the main travel route year round, though most especially in winter.
The park entrance is located here at the head of the valley and here is located the one and only Ranger Station in the entire park. The Weasel And Owl rivers flow through the valley, and one has to ford the river as well as several runoff streams as you make your way along the valley floor.
The trail is marked by ‘Inukshuks’ which are man shaped cairns that are placed at distant but regular intervals so one doesn’t lose their way… though that is kind of hard to do. As the route only follows the valley to its terminus.
Like Thor and Breidablick-Baldr, Odin is located on the Akshayuk Pass it is simply on the Eastern side not the Western side and is about 20km from the park entrance and about 10km north of Baldr and 7-8km north of Thor.
While Odin is the highest peak in the park (just over-reaching Tete Blanche at 2135m) it is not nearly as popular a destination for climbers as Thor, Freya, Asgard or Tirokwa. Odin has several 500m walls but the rock is less dependable than on Asgard or Thor and the routes are less than vertical... closer to 75 degrees or so.
Also Odin is prone to regular vicious rock falls that roar down the mountainside with some car sized boulders even reaching the base of the mountain in the Weasel River. So there are more risks involved than what one might encounter on the other popular peaks in Auyuittuq.
Odin's main face though is still a serious challenge that many climbers seek to tackle... it is a sheer 700m wall with a bevvy of possible routes beckoning to those with stout hearts and adventurous spirits.
There is also a back route up Odin's eastern slopes along snowy ridges that is far more accessible to the average climber. One simply has to follow the serpentine course of the ridges up towards the summit. To gain access to the plateau one has to ascend through one of the many small passes (between the peaks) along the Akshayuk Pass. This route would require crampons and an ice axe as well as experience on such terrain, but for those interested in summitting the highest point in the park this is a much simpler (though still challenging) path to the summit.
Red TapeYes permits are required, they can be purchased for either $15 a day or an annual permits can be purchased for $100 at the Parks Visitor Information Center in Pangnirtung. For more info. you can call 1 867 473 8828 or try [email protected] There are no real seasonal closures to speak of... though very few would want to visit the area in the dead of winter as temperatures hover for weeks on end around -40 degrees celsius or colder. Winter expeditions head up usually in late March or April when winter begins to loosen its icy grip just a little.
Its asked that you stick to walking across rock, sand or snow especially if wildflowers and other rare Arctic plants are out and that you leave the local animals alone. Please also be sure to pack in what you pack out... this is raw unspoiled wilderness at its finest... please respect that.
When To ClimbThe best time for climbing is the summer months between mid June to mid August though one can stretch the season earlier in June or later into the first week of September if the weather holds.
The greatest obstacle to overcome in any other season is winter itself and of course the usual logistical difficulties.. such as arranging transportation, local guides etc. this can all be compunded infinitely by the return of storms to the area. I haven't heard whether there have been early spring climbs or not though I believe it is possible though the costs and logistics would be more than a little prohibitive
CampingCamping is allowed. The only official site is near the entrance to the Akshayuk Valley near Overlord Mountain. The other sites are officially termed random sites which means camp where you find a good spot. Preferably not too close to the Weasel or Owl rivers and somewhere sheltered as the wind is known to really whip down through the valley. There is a small hut locted near the base of the mountain which can sleep 2-4 people. There are huts located near Mt. Thor and at the park entrance near Mt. Overlord.
Since the Peak is located right near Windy Lake you can use the hut located there as it might be safer than camping at the base of odin because of the prevalence of regular, serious rockfalls.
Mountain ConditionsThe only phone number to call for up to date conditions is the one already provided in the red tape section, and the web address provided should also yield relatively accurate weather conditions. The other web site you could try is the Parks Canada website which is www.pc.gc.ca/auyuittuq. The phone number provided is for the Park superintendent so it should be relatively easy to discover the weather conditions from there.
Failing all of this you could try www.theweathernetwork.com and type in Iqaluit it will give you up to the hour weather conditions.
HistoryThe Penny Ice Cap and Penny Highlands are named after British born William Penny who surveyed and later mapped much of Baffin Islands southern coastline.
Penny noted on his travels how the native population had declined from 1000 to less than 300 as native hunters were being impressed by whaling captains to join their fleets... also without as many hunters present throughout the year the Inuit people suffered greatly. Lastly.... mixing introduced the Inuit to viral strains that also took their toll on the natives. It was a very sobering realisation