Arctic Roundup: A Lost Boot and Stashed Sleds

In our latest arctic roundup, Will Steger thrashes through the White Sandy River, and John Dunn and Graeme Magor continue their imaginative route through Axel Heiberg.

The Barren Lands

In our last update, 77-year-old Will Steger had just arrived at the White Sandy River with a very heavy load following a resupply. The next couple of days proved difficult, with rapids that required hauling through chest-high water and a particularly rough day during which he lost a boot. On May 31, 32 days into his journey, Steger was camped on the border of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

After a day off, he portaged down to the Coppermine River yesterday. His last post describes how the river is “beginning to flush out with strong currents and loose ice.”

A canoeist on the Coppermine River. Photo: D. Gordon E. Robertson/Wikimedia Commons


Steger is a little over halfway through his 1,600km Barren Lands expedition and will be hoping for more paddling and less hauling as he continues.

Axel Heiberg Island

Last week, we short-changed John Dunn and Graeme Magor’s two-month, spring-summer ski traverse of Axel Heiberg Island. They haven’t headed for the (much easier) sea ice and have instead stuck to the interior of Axel Heiberg Island. Our resident polar expert, Jerry Kobalenko, describes it as an imaginative, exploratory route.

“The interior of Axel Heiberg is mostly ice cap,” he says. “But they’ve sussed out a thread of dry land that has taken them most of the way north.”

After crossing roughly half the island, Dunn and Magor stashed one sled each on May 29 before pivoting further inland. The lighter load was a relief. On May 31, they made 23km despite a “white on white” day of poor visibility. Next, they threaded their way past two glaciers into the Bukken River drainage. Magor had been there before, some 25 years previously!

The pair still have a long way to go. They originally planned to reach the northern tip of Axel Heiberg by June 5, and might still make it, though they’ll need to put in a couple of big days. Their return journey should be much quicker, hugging the coast as they head back south. They estimate that the return leg will take roughly 25 days.

Dunn and Magor’s ‘Double Axel’ route. Photo: John Dunn

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.