Eating dog food while searching for lost colleagues! The explorer who survived two harsh Arctic winters

In 1909, the Danish explorer Ignar Mikkelsen set out on a mission to retrieve the lost maps and diaries of a previous expedition to the northeastern coast of the island of Greenland. He returned to his homeland.

In 1891, Arctic explorer Robert Edwin Peary drew a sketch of Greenland’s east coast, drawing a canal separating the northeastern part of the island from the rest of the island, allowing America to claim this separate part.

This claim motivated a number of Danish sailors to embark on a perilous expedition in 1907, to thwart American efforts to claim this part of Greenland and to assert Danish sovereignty over the entire island.

But these sailors did not return home, which prompted the Dane Ignar Mikkelsen to go on a special expedition to find them, and he suffered both before returning safe.

So what happened? What are the details of the story?

In August 1909, Mikkelsen’s ship sank in the Arctic ice, about 200 miles from where his ancestral naval explorers were believed to have died.

According to his book Two Against Ice, Mikkelsen began his journey with six men, but he will take his adventures – similar to disaster – with a person who is a beginner in the world of expeditions and together they endure two harsh winters. in the Arctic ice.

The book, which became a movie on Netflix, attempted to convey some of the danger and agony in the world of exploration in the early 20th century. Ignar Mikkelsen and teammate Ever Iverson faced terrible difficulties to survive.

Movie trailer adapted from Michelson’s book

Before the North Pole … Michelson’s Youth’s Period

Mikkelsen was born on December 23, 1880, in the Danish city of Brunderslev, and since his childhood he was drawn to the life of sailors, arctic adventures and unprecedented discoveries, this attraction quickly turned into a passion to do the same.

Mikkelsen was only 14 years old when he first set out alone and was very determined to realize his dream of becoming a true explorer. He is said to have walked 320 miles from Stockholm to Gothenburg in 1896, convincing Swedish explorer Salomon August Andre to take him on his Arctic expedition.

Mikkelsen did not know what would happen on this trip, but he was lucky that Andre refused his request. The Swedish explorer’s journey ended fatally, in October 1897, when a hydrogen balloon failed to reach the North Pole and its three inhabitants lost their lives.

However, in 1900, Michelson was able to join an expedition, led by Sir George Karl Amdrop, to eastern Greenland.

In 1903 Mikkelsen worked as a cartographer on Evelyn Baldwin’s expedition to Franz Josef Land, an Arctic archipelago currently used only by the Russian military.

In 1906, the father of American geologist Ernest de Coven Livingwell funded an expedition to the North Pole to map the area that whales are said to have spotted in the Beaufort Sea, north of Point Barrow, Alaska.

The members of the expedition set off with $ 5,000 and a motorized drug to find the area, but had to stop on Flaxman Island, 200 miles from their target, to continue their walk through the ice.

After traversing 120 miles in 60 days, Livingwell and Mikkelsen realized the road was dangerous and turned to see that the ship had sunk. As Livingwell decided to stay to study the ice, Mikkelsen had other plans.

Mikkelsen began his journey home, traveling 2,300 miles on sleds and on foot. He continued his journey through the Fairbanks, Valdez and the Gulf of Alaska, and his return was nothing but the proclamation of a truly tried and tested explorer, though Mikkelsen’s greatest challenge had not yet come.

Livingwell (first from the north) with Mikkelsen, during the expedition to map the North Pole / Wikipedia

Livingwell (first from the north) with Mikkelsen, during the expedition to map the North Pole / Wikipedia

Expedition to the North Pole

A group of Danish explorers, Ludwig Milius Eriksen, Nils Peter Hoge Hagen and Jürgen Brunlund, decided to go on an expedition in 1907 to prove that Greenland was a united island belonging only to Denmark.

But in their search, they relied on maps by Northeastern Greenland American explorer Robert Edwin Peary, which included a virtual “Perry Channel” splitting the island in two.

Lost in the Arctic from these incomplete maps, the men quickly found themselves stuck in the ice. While the body of Jürgen Brunlund was found in 1908 with his maps and notes, the bodies of other colleagues Ludwig Milius Eriksen and Nils Peter Haug Hagen were never found.

When British press mogul Lord Northcliffe (publisher of the Daily Mirror) offered Mikkelsen to fund an expedition in 1909 to find his colleagues, Ignar Mikkelsen could not refuse, however Mikkelsen demanded that the expedition be financed with Danish money.

His government agreed to finance half the cost of the trip and opened the door for donations to Danes to raise the rest of the money.

According to the New York Times, Mikkelsen selected a 6-person crew on a 45-ton sailing ship, the Alabama, powered by a 15-horsepower engine.

Alabama set sail from Copenhagen on June 20, 1909, only to be discovered by the expedition crew that the ship’s mechanic was an incompetent alcoholic. On her way to Greenland, Alabama stops in Iceland, where a young, inexperienced mechanic named Ever Iverson voluntarily takes the place of the alcoholic.

The Alabama expedition suffered a setback when it arrived in the Faroe Islands, and the expedition crew had planned to use dogs pulling the wagon so they could cross the ice into Greenland, but unfortunately the dogs became infected with rabies, and although they found alternatives on the island of Amasalik, their arrival in Greenland delayed until the end of August.

At the time, the ship was stranded on the ice of Shannon Island, which forced Mikkelsen to shelter his crew on August 27, 1909. Unfortunately, they were 200 miles from the place where explorer Milius Eriksen reportedly had previously wintered. to die.

On Sept. 25, Mikkelsen and Iverson left while the rest of the crew stayed in place, but after finding evidence that the missing crew members had traveled 500 miles north, Mikkelsen and Iverson returned to the Alabama to return sheltered during the winter. months, then continue their march.With the onset of next spring.

Anija Alabama / Wikipedia

Anija Alabama / Wikipedia

How did Mikkelsen and Iverson survive the ice?

As written in his 1913 book Lost in the Arctic, Michelson and Iverson left the ship again, in March 1910. By May, they had found Milius Eriksen’s diary and confirmed the absence of the Perry Canal, but the most sharply had begun. ende.

It was summer and the ice that Michelson and Iverson had brought by sled to the site was melting fast. It took them about 8 months to get back on the boat and throughout this period the two colleagues headed to eat the dog food to survive and they suffered daily hallucinations after the death of their last dog.

When they finally return to the Alabama ship, they discover that the rest of their colleagues have abandoned them, finding their way home on a ship bound for Denmark.

Here, Mikkelsen and Iverson will have to endure two more Greenland winters, surviving on rations left over from previous expeditions as they try to survive predatory wildlife.

According to the father, the two explorers used their shelters on Shannon Island for as long as possible, but that was not enough for the long and cold winter ahead; So the two friends used planks from the wreckage of the Alabama ship to build a small hut to shelter.

When it seemed to him that all hope of survival had been lost, a Norwegian ship appeared and rescued them on 19 July 1912.

This fatal voyage did not discourage Ignar Mikkelsen from adventure and exploration, and in 1924 he led a new expedition to Surmersok in eastern Greenland. In 1932 he led an eight-member crew, on the Second East Greenland Expedition, to explore the geological region between Cape Dalton and Kangerlussuaq.

Mikkelsen recounted his arduous adventures in several books, receiving a national honor from the Danish government on his 90th birthday in 1970, as well as naming one of the Danish Coast Guard ships and a range of mountains in Greenland named his.

Mikkelsen died on May 1, 1971, after becoming one of the most important and famous explorers he had always dreamed of being like as a child.

Source: Arabi Post

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