Sverdrup Pass, Ellesmere Island - May 2001

This photo album is from Jim and Louise Wholey's ski trip to the High Arctic with Richard Weber of Canadian Arctic Holidays. Our great group of nine strong skiers covered over 200 Km in 11 days. We passed through a gap in the glaciers of eastern Ellesmere Island known as Sverdrup Pass, an ancient route used by the Inuit inhabiting this area when the weather was significantly warmer.

Our next target was Skraeline Island and the RCMP outpost of Alexandria Fiord, a beautiful site maintained to declare Canadian sovereignty over the area. Pim Island next to the huge North Water polynia was our final destination. We hoped to explore the remains of the unfortunate Greeley expedition that had wintered there and mostly perished.

The photos are set up to enable unattended download. On a slow link you may wish to enjoy a coffee break or dinner while the photos download. Have fun!

bonesite
Whale bones were once used to support an Inuit tent at Resolute, NT.

landing
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The Twin Otter dropped us in beautiful Irene Bay. This is how we travel - backpacks for personal things and sleds for food and community gear.
 
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We skied up a stream past a magnificent glacier. Rocks were mixed with ice. Entering a narrow canyon leading to Sverdrup Pass.
 
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Hauling sleds over icy steps was tricky. This pause in the tight canyon was spectacular.
 
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Jim coaxes his sled along in the deep canyon. Our maps told us we were right, but the canyon was very long and climbed surprisingly high.
 
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We broke out of the canyon onto a scenic plateau. Muskox droppings were everywhere and the hillsides were lined with animals.
 
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Slick blue ice and a tailwind allowed us to ski 32 Km one day. The outlet of Flagger Bay was a large polynia, limiting travel to the ice foot.
 
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Bearded seals frolicked in front of us. One did a full breach! In the distance many seals lay sunning themselves at their breathing holes.
 
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A female bear passed here earlier this morning. Bears crush seal dens hoping to catch their favorite food - seal pups.
 
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Arko, our polar bear deterrent carries his food in his pack but cannot fetch it to eat. The large tent sleeps up to 7 while the small on is just for the two of us.
 
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Each evening in the tent Darrell checks the maps and the GPS. The RCMP camp at Alexandria Fiord was quite nice.
 
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The view from Alexandria Fiord back toward Skraelkine Island. Jim rarely poses for the camrera.
 
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Bryan, the assistent guide, skis past a very large iceberg. A nice piece of ice.
 
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The wind sweeps across the ice forming hard ridges. The best part of the day for Arko, our polar bear dog.
 
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We ascend an ice hill for a great view of North Water, the enormous polynia separating Canada and Greenland at Smith Sound. The coast of Pim Island was resplendent with views of blue ice and North Water.
 
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There was much pretty blue ice despite the cloud cover. We continue around Pim Island using crampons rather than skis on the steeper ice.
 
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It is time for a break among the colorful ice blocks. Part of the steep ice foot required carving a highway for us to cross safely with sleds in the offshore wind. The ice foot dropped 10 feet into the cold turbulent water.
 
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A tiny line marks our highway across the steep narrow remaining ice foot. The remains of some previous party, but probably not Greeley.
 
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Traveling over mixed snow and ice can be tricky. Many formations begged for a picture.
 
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Some places were rough, but in the distance we see smooth ice that will enable an airplane to land. Ice brightens up the landscape.
 
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That's us, Jim and Louise Wholey, arctic explorers. We watched the distant walruses in this pristine setting while waiting for our airplane.

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The copilot photographs the whole group on the ice just before departure for Resolute.