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Arctic Explorers

Image Right - Map of the Arctic Territory

Please feel free to link profiles of people on GENi connected to Arctic Exploration. This is an International project and includes anyone involved, from leaders to Doctors and other participants.

Exploration of the Arctic region has taken place since 325 BC, when the ancient Greek sailor Pytheas reached a frozen sea while attempting to find a source of the metal tin.["ARCTIC, THE". Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press. 2004. Retrieved 2006-10-19.] Dangerous oceans and poor weather conditions often fetter explorers attempting to reach polar regions and journeying through these perils by sight, boat, and foot has proven difficult.

The Northern Sea Route or Northeast Passage a shipping lane from the Barent Sea to the Bering Strait along the Russian northern coast

The idea to explore this region was initially economic, and was first put forward by Russian diplomat Dmitry Gerasimov in 1525. The vast majority of the route lies in Arctic waters and parts are only free of ice for two months per year, making it a very perilous journey.[citation needed]

In the mid-16th century, John Cabot's son Sebastian helped organize an expedition, led by Sir Hugh Willoughby and Richard Chancellor. Willoughby's crew was shipwrecked off the Kola Peninsula, where they eventually died of scurvy.

Chancellor and his crew made it to the mouth of the Dvina River, where they were met by a delegation from the Tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Brought back to Moscow, he launched the Muscovy Company, promoting trade between England and Russia.

Some years later, Steven Borough, the master of Chancellor's ship, made it as far as the Kara Sea, when he was forced to turn back because of icy conditions. [ Wright, Helen Saunders (1910). The great white North: the story of polar exploration from the earliest times to the discovery of the Pole. The Macmillan co. p. 7.]

Western parts of the passage were being explored by Northern European countries such as England, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, looking for an alternative seaway to China and India. These expeditions failed - the most notable is the 1596 expedition led by Dutch navigator Willem Barentsz who discovered Spitsbergen and Bear Island.

The bulk of exploration in the 17th century was carried out by Siberian Cossacks, sailing from one river mouth to another in their Arctic-worthy kochs. In 1648 the most famous of these expeditions, led by Fedot Alekseev and Semyon Dezhnev, sailed east from the mouth of Kolyma to the Pacific and doubled the Chukchi Peninsula, thus proving that there was no land connection between Asia and North America.

Eighty years after Dezhnev, in 1728, another Russian explorer, Danish-born Vitus Bering on Sviatoy Gavriil made a similar voyage in reverse, starting in Kamchatka and going north to the passage that nowis called Bering Strait.

In 1878 Finnish-Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld made the first complete passage of the North East Passage from west to east, in the Vega expedition. The ship's captain on this expedition was Lieutenant Louis Palander of the Swedish Royal Navy.

In the 19th Century parts of the Northwest Passage were explored separately by a number of different expeditions, including those by

...and overland expeditions led by

The Northwest Passage was not completely conquered by sea until 1906, when the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who had sailed just in time to escape creditors seeking to stop the expedition, completed a three-year voyage in the converted 47-ton herring boat Gjøa. At the end of this trip, he walked into the city of Eagle, Alaska, and sent a telegram announcing his success. His route was not commercially practical; in addition to the time taken, some of the waterways were extremely shallow. ["Northwest Passage". The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-20.]

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