While John Franklin was lauded and falsely credited with the discovery of the legendary Northwest Passage, Orcadian John Rae was actually the man who first mapped out a navigable shipping route through the Arctic.
However, his reputation was trashed because he was brave enough to reveal that some of Franklin’s men had been driven to cannibalism in a doomed attempt to survive.
As a result, Rae, the greatest Arctic explorer of the era, was denied the status and glory he deserved, with author Charles Dickens a chief instigator of his vilification.
China has been steadily increasing its presence in the Arctic since it defined the far north as a “new strategic frontier” in 2015 and began promoting a “Polar Silk Road” three years later. Moreover, in 2018, Beijing declared itself a “Near Arctic State,” a move that primarily served to underscore the interests of its Arctic claim.
The government in Beijing has its eye on lucrative minerals and other raw materials in addition to the Arctic transport link. There is particular interest in interests in the Canadian Arctic and in mining rights in Greenland. This is because the Arctic is rich in natural resources such as fish, precious metals and fossil fuels.
Reuters is reporting that China has unveiled its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming. The Chinese are calling it the Polar Silk Road.
“China hopes to work with all parties to build a ‘Polar Silk Road’ through developing the Arctic shipping routes,” the paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said.
China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013.
Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in Russia’s Yamal liquefied natural gas project which is expected to supply China with four million tonnes of LNG a year, according to the state-run China Daily.
Shipping through the Northern Sea Route would shave almost 20 days off the regular time using the traditional route through the Suez Canal, the newspaper reported last month. COSCO Shipping has also previously sailed vessels through the Arctic’s northeast passage.
Updated June 1, 2019 to add link to his latest video.
In May 2014, Iohan Gueorguiev (website – YouTube – Twitter – Instagram) started cycling from the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The plan was to cycle to the tip of South America in a year, maybe a few more months.
On June 2nd, 2017, Melanie Vogel set out to solo thru-hike the longest recreational trail in the world. Melanie’s long-distance hike started in Cape Spear, Newfoundland the most easterly point of Canada, and will lead her trough all ten Canadian provinces and two of the three territories. She originally planed to hike to Victoria on Vancouver Island in two years, but somewhere along the way decided to include the Arctic Ocean in her hike.
When Melanie is finished, she will have solo hiked 18,000 km across Canada from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Arctic Ocean, and then to the Pacific Ocean, on The Great Trail, or as some know it, the Trans Canada Trail.
Her inspirational expedition takes her through maritime terrain, boreal forests, along the Great Lakes, the Canadian prairies, the Rocky Mountains and into the tundra and permafrost as she goes north to the Arctic.
With her choice of walking this huge country, the German born and raised adventurer is embracing Canada, to better connect to the land, its people, nature and herself.
As an ambassador for The Great Trail, Melanie wants to inspire people to get outside and discover trails in their backyard and by doing so find the connection back to nature.
Melanie Vogel is the recipient of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Women’s Expedition Grant for 2019.
Update 2020.10.18 » Dan Davidson, of the Whitehorse Daily Star, writes that Melanie might spend the winter in Whitehorse as she is restricted from entering the Northwest Territories and reaching Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Ocean due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The North Pole has long fascinated adventurers, each one eager to set new records. But being first is no longer the holy grail of Arctic exploration. Polar explorer Eric Larsen shares what expeditions are like now—when the finish line is melting.
“It’s not about being first,” polar explorer Eric Larsen tells me, before we embark on a overnight winter camping trip with a group of other cold-weather loving adventurers. “It’s about being last, and seeing these places before they’re forever changed.”