The Fan Hitch Volume 1, Number 2, October 1998

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

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Major Announcement
IGE Expedition News
A Chat About Breeding
Honour & Glory
Behavioral Notebook
Janice Howls
IMHO: Pets, et al

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              Editor: Sue Hamilton
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The Fan Hitch Website and Publications of the Inuit Sled Dog the quarterly Journal (retired in 2018) and PostScript  are dedicated to the aboriginal landrace traditional Inuit Sled Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. 

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IGE finds Dog Sledge Route Impassable

In early March, at 8020' north, the International Greenland Expedition team of Lonnie Dupre and John Hoelscher sat huddled in their small tent. They relished the warmth it contained and the modest protection it offered from the -95F wind chill, courtesy of north Greenland's notorious north wind. They were camped at Cape Jefferson on the edge of the Kennedy Channel, the body of water that separates Greenland from Canada's Ellesmere Island. Beyond the thin fabric of their enclosure, illuminated by the dim, late winter light, loomed the high wall of pack ice - impenetrable and unending. This impassable barrier separated them from their supply depot in Hall Land, more than 100 miles to the north. Previously, they had spent days and precious provisions searching for an inland passage through Daugaard Jensen Land. Instead of a new route, they had found frustration in the form of huge ice gorges and a series of frozen waterfalls. their hopes for a continued circumnavigation of Greenland had then been pinned on finding a negotiable coastal route. The wall of pack ice put an end to that with a hard finality.

The two Arctic adventurers, an American and an Australian, now considered their options. They could radio for an airlift back to safety. That would entail considerable expense and contradict the basic philosophy of the expedition. It would also put at risk the aircraft crew that came for them. The alternative was to retrace the grueling 325 miles to Siorapaluk by dog sledge, traveling as quickly as they could with the increasing Arctic daylight and a dwindling food supply. Neither team member was anxious to repeat events of the outbound journey - fighting through the pack ice ofKane Basin at -57F, recrossing the massive crevasse fields of the ice cap tot he south, or being tent bound for 5 days by 100 mph winds. After assessing the supply situation, they made their decision. If they could make better time on the return, and if they encountered no major delays, their food should last until they reached Siorapaluk. If and should - two words they had been using entirely too much in recent days. This time, their luck held.

Only slightly disheartened by the impossibility of transiting the northern Greenland coast by dog sledge in the dead of Arctic winter, the team regrouped and modified their plan to maximize the unique opportunity that nature had placed before them. With time now at their disposal before continuing with the planned second kayaking leg of the expedition, they traveled by dog sledge to the remote villages that exist at these extreme northern latitudes. In total, they logged over 2000 miles by dog team. Their extensive travels were documented through still photography and information on the customs and way of life that have allowed this traditional, subsistence lifestyle to succeed for over a thousand years. The time spent provided a wealth of information to be shared with those following the expedition through its Interned web sites and with schools participating in the IGE educational programs.
In early May, Lonnie and John said farewell to their Greenlandic huskies, leaving them with friends in the environment to which they are best suited. The team then traveled by air to Tasilaq on the eastern coast of Greenland to continue their explorations into Inuit culture and to prepare for the final leg of their journey - 750 miles by sea kayak to the expedition's 1997 starting point, the tiny village of Paamiut in southwestern Greenland.
This report was taken from the volume 3 issue 2 of Piteraq, the Newsletter of the International Greenland Expedition, with the generous permission of the IGE.

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