People & Culture

Arctic Awe with Pascale Marceau

Episode 61

The accomplished winter and cold weather explorer discusses her latest High Arctic expedition covering 650 kilometres in seven weeks

  • Jun 06, 2023
Photo: Jayme Dittmar
Expand Image

When Pascale Marceau came up with a name for her latest high Arctic expedition, “Arctic Awe,” she thought this would refer to the awe she felt looking at the stark beauty of the land and sea ice she encountered. It wound up being so much more than that, awe born from extreme external challenges and the need to dig deep within herself. We’re lucky to get Pascale, just weeks after finishing her ski expedition with partner Scott Cocks, in the depths of winter, across the sea ice from Ellesmere Island, over to the ice caps and glaciers of Devon Island and back again. In all, it took seven weeks, covering 650 kilometres.

Pascale Marceau. (Photo: Jayme Dittmar)
Expand Image

There are many near misses and dangers encountered described in this conversation, including a birthday she won’t soon forget. And there is a lot about the spiritual impact of being in the vast, open beauty of a Canadian high arctic winter, the importance of adaptation to circumstances and environments, and why taking journeys on foot is a distinct part of who we are as a species.

As a mountaineer, Marceau has recorded a number of firsts:

  • The first recorded winter ascent of the 4800-metre-high Mount Wood in the Yukon, which was also the first female winter ascent of a major peak in the subarctic.
  • In 2021, she led the first all-woman ascent of the Yukon’s Mt.Lucania, Canada’s third-highest peak at 5200 metres.

Since then, she has focused on goals lower to the horizon, Arctic expeditions, including a 2022 crossing from Greenland to the Canadian High Arctic on sea ice. And the trip she is just back from skiing from Ellesmere to Devon Island this year. Her enthusiasm for exploration rings through here. Enjoy!

Map courtesy Pascale Marceau
Expand Image

Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

People & Culture

On thin ice: Who “owns” the Arctic?

As the climate heats up, so do talks over land ownership in the Arctic. What does Canadian Arctic Sovereignty look like as the ice melts?

  • 4353 words
  • 18 minutes
Arctic Frontiers conference 2019


Five key takeaways from the Arctic Frontiers conference

The uncertainty and change that's currently disrupting the region dominated the annual meeting's agenda

  • 2651 words
  • 11 minutes

People & Culture

Kahkiihtwaam ee-pee-kiiweehtataahk: Bringing it back home again

The story of how a critically endangered Indigenous language can be saved

  • 6310 words
  • 26 minutes


Four things to know about Arctic policy and sustainable ocean management in Canada and Norway

The Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society teamed up for two days of talks on the future of the Arctic and the “blue economy” in Norway and Canada

  • 1179 words
  • 5 minutes