Cairn Revisited

Happy-Birthday-NorwayWe now have more information about the cairn near Lands Lokk. We prematurely concluded that the cairn might have been built by Otto Sverdrup.

According to Jerry Kobalenko and Graeme Magor, two Canadians who visited the cairn together in 1997, the cairn was built by American Robert Peary in 1906, four years after Otto Sverdrup first visited Lands Lokk. And in 1930, Hans Krueger, a German, opened the cairn. We thought the cairn could have been built by Otto Sverdrup in May of 1902 because its size and location fit well with the descriptions of the Lands Lokk cairn in Sverdrup’s book New Land and his personal expedition journal. When Krueger opened the cairn in 1930, he found a note from Peary dated 1906. In 1954 Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith and Robert Christie, two geologists, opened the cairn and found a note from Krueger and a copy of Peary’s note that Krueger had made as was the custom in those days.

The fate of the three-man Krueger expedition is unknown. They left Lands Lokk and continued southwest to Axel Heiberg Island and were never seen again. Approaching Krueger Island and Kleybolte Peninsula on our way to Lands Lokk, we had both the Krueger and Peary Expeditions on our minds and we thank Graeme and Jerry for connecting their stories to the cairn we visited. So, the mystery of Otto Sverdrup’s missing Lands Lokk cairn lives on. It is this sort of tangible and living history that makes Ellesmere Island a fascinating place to travel and to read about.

Over the past few days we have crossed Nansen Sound again and are now camped by a big iceberg just off the east coast of Axel Heiberg Island. Two days ago we skied across a huge piece of ice that appeared to be a broken off ice shelf. It took us almost an hour to ski across it. Temperatures are starting to warm up, but the winds are keeping things cool; the dogs are happy about that. Today, May 17th, is Norwegian National Day, so Kyle, myself, and Hugh are doing our very best to help Toby celebrate that very important day. And we’ve taken the day off to help those efforts. OK, thanks for listening everybody. Talk to you soon.

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About the author:

During the late winter and early spring of 2007, John lived in Baffin Island, Canada, for 100 days. There he worked as expedition manager for the Global Warming 101 – Baffin Island Expedition. While documenting the local Inuit experience with climate change, the expedition connected school children in the States with their counterparts on Baffin Island.


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