Norwegian Constitution Day – May 17th

may16Day 48 of Expedition
Position: N 80° 35′ W 89° 54′

Just north of white mountain, Axel Heiberg Island. Camped on the sea ice of Nansen Sound.

We are now working our way down the northeast coast of Axel Heiberg and across Nansen Sound, where we can see the beautiful and rugged coastline of Svartefjell Peninsula on Ellesmere Island. Svartefjell is Norwegian and means black mountain. As we proceed further down the coast towards Schei Peninsula, Nansen Sound divides into Eureka Sound and Greely Fjord. Greely Fjord was named after the American Explorer Adolphus Greely (See below for further information).

Greely who in the latter half of the 19th century led a large American expedition to the northwestern coast and the interior of Ellesmere Island. This expedition ended in disaster as only 7 of the expedition members survived. When the last expedition members were rescued evidence of canibalism became present. The Greely expedition illustrates how the High Arctic can be extremely dangerous if one travels there unprepared or with a lack of respect for the realities of this harsh environment.

As I go to bed here tonight people are getting up in Norway to celebrate our National Constitution Day on May 17. On that day we celebrate our constitution that was ratified in the year of 1814. It is a great day of celebration were people met in the cities, towns, villages and in the mountains. In Oslo, there is a parade of all the school children of the city. The main event of the parade is when the kids pass the royal castle and greet the royal family who are waching from their balcony. In 1902 Otto Sverdrup celebrated, like we will tomorrow, 17th of May in Nansen Sound. He was exploring the sound with the young geologist Per Schei who Schei Peninsula is named after.

Today’s picture is of my lead dog Skiddish in front of White Mountain or as Sverdrup named it Hvite Fjell. Skiddish is also looking forward to celebrate May 17 with the rest of us tomorrow.


All my best


Norwegian Translation:

17 Mai Feiring I Nansen Sound
16 Mai 2008
Posisjon ; N 80 35 W 89 54.

Leir paa havisen I Nansen Sund rett utenfor White Mountain paa Axel Heiberg Oy. Rett over sundet ser vi den toffe og fjellrike kystlinjen av Svartfjell Peninsula paa Ellesmere Island. Vi har I dag hatt en ganske hard arbeidsokt I det som viste seg aa vare en ganske kaotisk type av gammel havis. Store til gigantiske isfjell ligger ogsaa spredt I sundet her. Disse gigantene stammer fra isbreene paa Ellesmere siden. Det storste vi har kjort forbi var over 30m hoyt. I morgen er det altsaa 17 mai og som Otto Sverdrup gjorde det I 1902 skal vi feire dagen I Nansen Sound. Dette er jo et meget bra sted aa feire vaar nasjonaldag og vaare stolte tradisjoner. Paa mange maater er jo 17.mai ogsaa en feiring av norsk natur og den maaten vi opplever denne flotte naturen paa gjennom friluftslivet. I fjor Var jeg paa Finse og Hardangerjokulen og hadde en fantastisk og enestaaende feiring I den vakreste av norsk natur. Fellesnevneren mellom Nansen Sund og Finse er at begge steder er denne vakre naturen truet av klimaforandringene. Vaar norske natur, friluftslivet og vaar na jonale identitet er paa mange maater truet av denne alt for relle krisen vi naa befinner oss I. Jeg vill her gjerne dra frem noen ord fra vaar store nasjonal helt Fridtjof Nansen siden vi naa befinner oss I sundet som barer hans navn. Desverre er jeg bare I besittelse av dette sitatet paa engelsk. Om skisporten sier Nansen; May our sport long be held in honour, may its interests be cared for and advanced as long as there remain men and women in the Norwegian valeys! Sitat slutt. Skal vi ta vare paa skisporten vaar maa vi passe paa at det ogsaa I fremtiden er sno I norske daler og paa norske fjell. Alt vel I isen.

Gratulere med dagen.

Hilsen Tobias


Further Reading:

Adolphus Greely : WikipediaThe Greely Expedition

The Adolphus Greely expedition set sail for the High Arctic in 1881. It was a U.S. Army expedition and the objective was to explore the northern coast of Greenland as well as to beat the furthest north record set by the Nares Expedition. Greely established Fort Conger on the northeast coast of Ellesmere and from here he planned to spend the next three years exploring the high arctic. The expedition was, however, dependant on yearly resupplies. Greely managed to beat the furthest north record and became the first non-aboriginal to reach Lake Hazen. He also crossed Ellesmere Island and named Greely Fjord after himself. Due to a short period of cooling the resupply ships scheduled to reach Fort Conger never made it and the expedition was gradually driven into starvation. Realizing that they needed to travel south to be rescued, Greely ordered a retreat from Fort Conger in 1884. This retreat became a horrible disaster as 17 of the expedition’s 25 members died, most of starvation. When the remaining 7 members, including Greely, were rescued it became clear that the survivors had resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.

The Greely expedition illustrated that confidence in modern technology and western methods did not suffice in the High Arctic. It became clear to the explorers that followed Greely that they had to look to the Inuit and Inughuit for ways to successfully operate over prolonged periods of time in the High Arctic.

Alden Todd, Abandoned: The Story of the Greely Arctic Expedition 1881-1884, University of Alaska Press, 2001.
Lyle Dick, Muskox Land: Ellesmere Island in the Age of Contact, (University of Calgary Press: 2001)

E C Coleman, the Royal Navy in Polar Exploration from Franklin to Scott, Tempus Publishing, 2007.


View the Global Warming 101 Ellesmere Island Expedition map and follow their progress.

Map updated daily with new position.

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This dispatch was created and posted using Dispatch 1.0 – an expedition dispatch software developed by The Will Steger Foundation and Global Warming 101 Expeditions.


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