Late at night on May 22nd Fedor and Victor Simonov had reached the coast of Cape Columbia. It is the northernmost point of land of Canada, located on Ellesmere Island. For the first time Russian explores were able to cross the Arctic Ocean from the North Pole to Canada on a dog sled. The first stage of the expedition is accomplished: the team had dogsled and skied across the Arctic Ocean and reached the land. The next step is to get to Greenland (most likely by a plane) and begin dog sledding across the archipelago.
Fedor Konyukhov: “Today we made a great effort to leave the drifting ice of the Arctic and cross onto the land ice. The effort paid off and we reached the coast of Canada. The last few kilometers were particularly grueling. The five meters hummocks stood in front of us like walls, and we had to climb over them without non-stop. The dogs, sensing that the land was near, didn’t not slow down and pulled the sled with a great determination. When we touched the land, the feeling was unbelievable. After 46 days of dogsledding and skiing, we have left 900 km of the Arctic Ocean behind us. We are standing on terra firma and are swaying as if we just finished sailing around the world. The dogs are joyful, sniffing the air and licking the rocks. Victor and I both reached down to pick up a few small rocks as a keepsake of this special moment and place. Cape Columbia was a starting point for 1909 expedition of Robert Peary to the North Pole, and in 1979 Naomi Uemura’s polar expedition on a dog sled.
As soon as we reached Cape Columbia we started to move along the coast towards Ward Hunt Island. It’s only 20 km away. Right now we are having a quick break for a cup of hot tea and phone call to the office in Moscow. We are sitting on our sled and taking it all in. It’s very quiet here, a bit eerie. The sun is out. To observe the surrounding mountains and cliffs is very therapeutical.
We are planning to reach Ward Hunt Island later today and set up a camp. That will conclude the first chapter of our expedition. The next one will unfold as soon as we reach Greenland and begin our crossing from the north coast to the south which amounts to about 2500 km.”
May 22nd is Saint Nicholas day. Three years ago, Fedor was ordained as a priest of Russian Orthodox Church. The success of this expedition so far, and the total outcome of this endeavor is in God’s hands.
Fedor and Victor would like to thank each and every one who supported, cheered on, and contributed in big and small ways to the success of this Arctic crossing.
Expedition is using satellite tracking beacons – Yellow Brick. Current position is here: http://yb.tl/konyukhov
Translated by Tatiana Koreski