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.
A morning shot of Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat. » Photography by Imrankhakwani
» 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level
» Located on the border between Nepal and the autonomous region of Tibet (OpenStreetMap / Google Maps)
» First summitted by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953
» Also known as Mount Godwin-Austen or Chhogori
» 8,611 metres (28,251 ft) above sea level
» Located on the border between China and Pakistan (OpenStreetMap / Google Maps)
» First summitted gy Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni in 1954
» Located on the border between Nepal and India, approximately 125 kilometres from Everest (OpenStreetMap / Google Maps)
» At elevation of 8,586 metres (28,169 ft), it is the second highest mountain in the Himalayas
» First summitted by Joe Brown and George Brand in 1955 Continue reading
It’s not the Iditarod, but about the 1,000-mile long Yukon Quest.
Elisa Shoenberger, writing in Deadspin:
Today, the Quest winds its way up through the Yukon and Alaskan wilderness, passing villages and remote houses along the way. The middle point is historic Dawson City, the capital of the Klondike Gold Rush, filled with casinos, dance halls, hotels, banks, and luxurious shopping back in the day. It was even once called “The Paris of the North.” The first musher to Dawson City wins a few ounces of gold, a nice nod to the city’s heritage.
The first race was won by Sonny Lindner in 12 days and 5 minutes; the fastest finish was by Allen Moore in 2004 in 8 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes. Aliy Zirkle was the first woman to win the race in 2000. The closest finish was in 2012, when Hugh Neff beat Allen Moore by only 26 seconds.
The Yukon Quest is a smaller and younger race than the Iditarod. The latter is better known and is much more commercialized, bringing bigger sponsors and media attention. There’s also a bigger prize for mushers who win or place high enough. It therefore attracts greater numbers of mushers: the Iditarod had 52 mushers participate this year while the Quest had 30. Some feel that the focus on money in the Iditarod has moved it away from the real stars of the show: the dogs and the mushers themselves.
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.
With its untamed wilderness, gold rush past, and party-hardy reputation, Canada’s northern frontier offers a wild time—in every sense of the word.
The call of the wild emanates from just about everywhere in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Some locations are expected (evergreen forests, rugged mountain peaks, remote lakes) while others might surprise (a former brothel-now-bar, a wild-west-esque can-can show, a divey saloon). Looming large over this vast frontier north of the 60th parallel and east of Alaska are the stories and storied remains of the Klondike gold rush. Beginning in 1887, when word of gold in them thar (northern) hills reached southern cities, a stampede of 100,000 dreamers and schemers sailed north to Alaska, trudged over mountain passes into Canada, and sailed down the Yukon River to reach the gold fields. Take inspiration from their courage (or craziness) and find some wild times of your own.
Self-shot and edited whilst cycling around the world, this short film charts my winter journey into the Canadian Arctic as I completed my bike ride up the American continent. Compelled by Jack London’s assertion, that ‘any man who is a man can travel alone’, I sought an adventure of perfect solitude. Yet, as I came to realise, the harsh truths of travelling in such a formidable environment were a long way from the romantic images I’d held of this land. The Frozen Road is an honest reflection on my solo trip; of the wonder, terror and frustration I experienced when riding through the unforgiving emptiness of one of the world’s ‘last great wildernesses’.
Notable awards for the film:
‘Special Jury Mention’ – Banff Mountain Film Festival
‘Best Director’ – Bilbao Mendi Film Festival
‘Spirit of Adventure’ – 5Point Film Festival
‘Best Adventure Film’ – New York WILD
‘Best Exploration and Adventure Film’ – Fort William Mountain Film Festival