In Search of the Cairn

Day 40
Position: N 80° 54′ W 095° 24′
Distance traveled: 27.2 km / 16.9 mi

Exactly 110 years and three days ago on May 5th, part of Otto Sverdrup’s team traveled up this coast mapping and surveilling. They reached the location where we are now camped and were forced to turn around because they ran out of food. However, before they turned around, they built a cache, or a cairn.

Since then only, Macmillan and the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) have traveled the northern coast of Axel Heiberg. Because of sovereignty reasons, the RCMP may have destroyed the cairn, but there is also a chance it is still here.

After a great day of travel, we are just eating dinner, and will head out on ski’s to scan the area in search for the cairn. The only clue we have is a passage written in Sverdrup’s book:

“It was late in the evening before we had got so far that we could pitch our tent on the north side of the bay, close under the ice-foot, at a place which provided a little shelter from the wind. We had driven nearly fourteen miles that day. Here we came to a conclusion which had long been forming in our minds, which was to abandon any further attempt to penetrate northwards, and to turn back. Early on the morning of 5 May we began to look about for a suitable spot for a cairn, and up on a little knoll some few hundred yards from the tent we found a place where there were the necessary materials. Wen began work at once. On top of the cairn we placed a tall stone, in which Fosheim chiseled a hole for a flagstaff, which bore the Norwegian flag. We then took a meridian altitude which, when worked out on the spot, gave a latitude of 80° 55′ N, and placed under the cairn a record of our journey and the latitude we had observed. Finally we took some photographs of the cairn with its surrounding’s. It was impossible to get any observation for longitude, for a southerly breeze sprang up later in the afternoon, the sky became overcast, and the same weather continued until morning.”


This dispatch was created and posted using Dispatch 1.0 – an expedition dispatch software developed by Climate Generaiton and Global Warming 101 Expeditions.


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