Nunavut Snowkite

Snowkiting in the windy Hamlet of Pangnirtung Nunavut

Published Monday, March 04, 2013

Dozens of multicoloured kites zigging and zagging across Pangnirtung Nunavut skyline belong to the territory’s fastest-growing crew of adventure-sport enthusiasts: the snow sailors.

“We get some pretty good winds here in Pangnirtung. You get yourselves on skis with a parasail and go floating around the fiord,” said hamlet administrative officer Ron Mongeau about the fastest growing adventure sport on the planet.

“Sometimes you’re down on the ice, sometimes you’re up in the air.”

Snowkiting brings more and more new participants every year, but the speed, remoteness and relative newness of the sport mean the hamlet’s youth committee wanted to partner with a pro instructor to teach a safety “crash” course and work with the organization in developing a world class annual wind-sports festival in the tiny community.

“We’re making sure that anyone who’s going to be out on the fiord snow-sailing has basic first aid,” said Mange.

Martin Hanzalek, lead instructor at the Newfoundland Snowkite School, has travelled extensively throughout the Canadian Arctic teaching wilderness first aid programs, ice safety courses, avalanche awareness programs, and snowkite workshops and clinics. He was on the ice last week teaching a dozen or so Pangnirtung snow sailors. Before that he was doing the same thing in Iqaluit.

Beginners don’t put their skis or snowboards on initially when learning the basics of snow-kiting. They first need to learn how to control their kite. Once comfortable with basic flying, they slip into their snowboard or skis and start working with the wind allowing their kite to propel them along the ice and snow. Once the basics are learned the sky is literally the limit. Snowkiters can start catching a little air off a snow drift, riding in stronger winds with larger kites, and even using the kite to pull them up the various snow covered slopes that backdrop Pangnirtung and the entrance to the National Park.

“There’s a really active group here,” Martin Hanzalek said about the increasing popularity and momentum growing around the “none-consumptive and self-propelled” mode of Arctic travel. “Pangnirtung as a venue is one of the nicest places on the planet to take advantage of the sport.”

With Auyuittuq Park as a backdrop, reliable wind conditions, and new regular air-links between Baffin Island and Greenland, the sky’s the limit for the popularity of the sport and special interest groups are taking advantage of the opportunity every year. Hanzalek says his group is looking at creating a joint partnership between Canada and Greenland to conduct a snowkite expedition across the Greenland ice cap which will tie in cultural elements between the two Arctic communities.¬†

“There are a lot of exciting ideas in the plans,” said Martin Hanzalek, giving one example of how every spring a dozens of people snowkite the prevailing winds across Greenland during optimal conditions in the spring. “It’s a fantastic way to see the planet’s second-largest ice cap and connect with some of the communities.” says Hanzalek.

The adventure sport could have potential adventure-sport-tourism spinoffs for Pangnirtung. Many who do the Greenlandic sojourn by snowkite already fly there via Iqaluit, where colourful sails are already a common sight on the bay. In Pangnirtung, Mongeau even sees the possibility down the road of a snow-kiting festival.

“It has really created a buzz in the community,” he said. “Every year we’re trying to attract more and more youth to it. It’s very popular right now and we’re really hoping it’s going to continue to grow.”

Some videos and more information about snow-kiting in Pang can be found on Hanzalek’s blog and on the hamlet’s website.

Eastport Organics


Newfoundland Organic Farm reviews consistently rated the produce at Eastport Organics as some of the best in the province. Jason Bull, owner of the organic farm, uses 100% natural inputs to cultivate fantastic produce right here in Newfoundland on the Eastport Peninsula. “You wouldn’t see me anywhere close to a greenhouse” says bulk as he waters the spinach and mustard greens “I grow everything from seed and I am super careful when handling the plants. If a plant gets stressed it won’t taste as good. I keep my plants happy”.


Backcountry Skiing in Gros Morne National Park

Newfoundland and Labrador offers some of the best off-piste backcountry skiing and snowboarding in Eastern Canada. With Mountains like the Tablelands, Lewis Hills, and Blow me Downs here on the island portion of the province, and the Torngats in Labrador, there is no shortage of skiable terrain. Our consistent wind and alpine / arctic terrain makes for fantastic snowkite venues.
The Tableland Mountains in Gros Morne National Park are one of my favorite places to ski tour. Besides being a World UNESCO site, the Tablelands are close to mechanized traffic, which means it truly is a place you can get away from the noise of snow machines.

Martin Hanzalek opens Newfoundland Snowkite School

Martin Hanzalek and the Newfoundland Snowkite School are now open for the season. With temperatures below freezing and more snow in the forecast Hanzalek couldn’t be happier. “The snow makes me smile” says Hanzalek in an interview with the Telegram Newspaper “every time we get a huge winter storm I feel warm inside. I guess I know just how much fun the snow brings along with it.

This winter Martin Hanzalek is offering free introductory snowkite lessons to anyone interested in taking up the sport. For more information contact the Newfoundland Snowkite School or reach Marty directly at 709-763-7433

Newfoundland Snowkiting with Martin Hanzalek

Martin Hanzalek snowkiting in Newfoundland

The Tableland Mountains and Lewis Hills in Western Newfoundland near Gros Morne National Park offer fantastic snowkiting, but you don’t have to be on the West Coast of the Province to enjoy snowkiting this winter. For those of you in St. John’s, Pippy Park and the rolling terrain on Witless Bay Line offer fantastic snowkiting just moments from the city.

Adventure Tourism Growth in Newfoundland and Labrador

Topics : ST. JOHN’S , Newfoundland , Martin Hanzalek , Adventure Tourism

NEWFOUNDLAND – It may be a long, drawn-out winter, but for those who thrive on adventure tourism, conditions couldn’t be better.

Martin Hanzalek, adventure tourism operator and outdoor adventure guide is hoping for an early winter and consistently cold temperatures with the anticipation of another snowy winter. “our snowfall and colder winter temperatures in western Newfoundland create some great opportunities for enjoying the season.”

Hanzalek said the list of things to do is as long as it is exciting and goes beyond a day of skiing on groomed downhill or cross-country runs or snowmobiling on manicured trails.
For example, his company offers the chance to experience backcountry skiing or snowmobiling, or alternative winter activities such as dog-sledding, ice climbing or snow kiting.

Hanzalek has seasoned guides from across Canada who can lead short or long expeditions for beginners or experienced outdoor enthusiasts alike.

“You don’t need to have any experience or any equipment to enjoy the things we offer,” he said. “Just the other day, we had three kids aged six, seven and eight out dog-sledding and they were all driving themselves at the same time.

“The same goes for ice-climbing. We can take young kids all the way up to senior citizens.”

Dog-sledding and ice climbing have been two focal points this year. Elaine Pinnard is from Quebec and now lives and works with her huskies in Gros Morne National Park offering one of Canada’s most unique dog sledding experiences. With 32 dogs and two pups clients can go for an afternoon jaunt or a multi-day trek into the mountains with her teams and camping equipment.

With thousands of square kilometres to choose from, she said the west coast always offers something exciting when venturing about on dog sled.

“Last year, I was driving sled with some visitors and we came face-to-face with a caribou,” recalled Pinnard. “The guests were right behind me and they couldn’t believe that.”

While adventure tourism often brings to mind backcountry excursions, sometimes an extreme adventure is mere metres from the road. That’s the case with ice climbing on a steep cliff between Marble Mountain and Corner Brook overlooking the Humber River.

“We call it the ‘Million Dollar Wall’ because there’s only a one in a million chance that you’ll ever find such a great spot for ice climbing that is suitable for beginners and a challenge for experts and which is right alongside the highway,” said Hanzalek.

While frozen ponds and waterfalls make for great dog-sledding and ice-climbing, western Newfoundland’s winters also feature wind, which can be harnessed for snow-kiting over frozen ponds and snowy plateaus.

“You’ll never look at the wind the same way again after you’ve had the chance to go snowkiting,” said Hanzalek.

“We have a lot of great areas with premium snow-kiting conditions too with flat-topped mountains like the Blow-Me-Downs, North Arm Hills and the Tablelands.

“People who know about this sport want to come here because this is one of the best places in the world to do that activity.”

2010 was Newfoundland’s largest tourism year in history with over 500,000 visitors to the province.

With the launching of the new 2012 find yourself tourism campaign our province is bound to see more visitors. Initiatives like Martin Hanzalek’s are what keeps tourism growing and maintains Newfoundland and Labrador as a unique destination. Hanzalek offers unique programs like rock climbing, dog sledding, ice climbing, and snow kiting which are certainly unique. It’s good to see people like Marty Hanzalek being recognized for their hard work.