Friday, July 12, 2013


Another Intrepid Arctic Team

Each year for the past half decade or so, some group of ecologists or another sets out to walk, or row across some small subsection of the Arctic landscape or seascape, usually in the Summer. They only use human power (after they burn a lot of fossil fuel to get to the arbitrary starting point) because human powered treks are cool with ecologists. The say they are there to study the sudden change in the Arctic Summer climate, but most often they prove that it is still freakin' cold in the Arctic, even in the Summer, and that nothing is appreciably different about the Arctic Summer since Europeans started braving the cold to visit up there for a while. Sometimes, the intrepid ecologists have to be rescued; sometimes, their adventure ends in tragedy. Even the ones who claim success often have to shorten the route they take to a ridiculously small percentage of any meaningful Arctic travel.

Here is this season's intrepid ecologist team. They want to row the Northwest Passage but from west to east (most people go the other way). They were to start on July 1 in the McKenzie River delta east of the line between the Yukon and Northwestern Territories on the Beaufort Sea and then row to Nunavut Territories in 3 or so months, ending on the southeastern end of Pond Inlet on Baffin Island about 3000 kilometers away. They'll pass through the Canadian Archipelago where the Franklin Expedition became trapped in the ice and all of them died. They're using most of the route Roald Amundsen used in 1903 to sail through the NW Passage in 3 years in a converted fishing boat.

I wish them luck and no real difficulties or tragedy.

I do note they are off to a very slow start after a delayed beginning and have gone only 75 Km or so in 6 days when they need to do 200 Km in that time. And the Beaufort Sea is not ice free yet another 100 Km ahead of them. If that doesn't change, that could be a problem.

UPDATE: They are still where they were 3 days ago, not yet out of the delta and into the Beaufort Sea proper. 9 days in and they have traveled less than 80Km. That ain't so good. I'm beginning to think that they may not make it to Prince of Wales Island. Not that I'm yet predicting where they'll give up the ghost (figuratively). I will do that by August 1.


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