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Recent Work: Ellesmere Island

Ellesmere Island, March 2023:


In late February 2023, I embarked on one of the most challenging expeditions so far. Along with my fellow travellers Malini Pittet and Ben Cranke, and guided by three Grise Fiord youngsters (Terry Noah, Nolan Kiguktak, and Silas Pijamini), we had planned to travel by snow mobile and qamutiik from Grise Fiord towards Eureka Sound in search of Arctic wildlife and especially the famed polar wolfs of Ellesmere Island. 

March was still firmly in the grip of the arctic winter, with temperatures regularly dropping below -50° C. While we were well prepared for this camping trip in extremis for anyone not living in high-arctic winter conditions, the travel logistics between Ottawa and Grise Fiord caused considerable problems at the beginning of this trip. Granted: winter weather is tough for air transport. The route to manage was Ottawa - Iqaluit - Pond Inlet - Arctic Bay - Resolute Bay - Grise Fiord (see map in gallery, source: Due to delays causes by cancelled flights (weather, aircraft broke down, aircraft broke down again during flight, baggage left behind, some more weather, and eventually new weight restrictions on the segment from Resolute Bay to Grise Fiord) we eventually lost too many field days to make the search for polar wolfs a success. Spoiler alert: new plans for 2025 are under discussion.

Nevertheless, the experience of winter overland travel on Ellesmere Island was simply mind-blowing. This certainly is a great adventure. Ellesmere Island comprises an area of 196'236km2 and during winter connects across the frozen sea with all neighbouring islands, including Greenland. A permanent population of fewer than 150 people call Ellesmere Island their home. The hamlet of Grise Fiord is Canada's northern-most permanent settlement. Further north are Eureka research station, and Alert army base. Our objective was to reach Eureka, but our expedition was cut short and turn-around was in northern Vendom Fiord.

This gallery contains photographs made on the flights from Resolute Bay to Grise Fiord and back, and on Ellesmere Island between Grise Fiord and Vendom Fiord.

I hope you enjoy what you find here!

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