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ExWeb interview with Yasunaga Ogita: From the Arctic ice to the tundra

Posted: May 24, 2011 09:03 am EDT

The two Japanese adventurers, Yasunaga Ogita and Yusuke Kakuhata, leave on the second leg of their Arctic expedition today; a 600 km sledge-haul and backpack trip on the thawing tundra of the high Canadian Arctic.

They finished an expedition from Resolute Bay to Goja Haven a few days ago. ExWebs Correne Coetzer caught up with them in Gjoa Haven while they were stocking up on food and fuel for their unassisted, unsupported travel. Not all food will be from the shops, as they will eat from the land where they can by catching fish and eating birds eggs..

Being far away from home, they heard about the earthquake that hit Japan. They could only watch the damage on the Internet.

ExplorersWeb: How did you find the ice conditions and the weather?

Jasu: We didn't take any laptop computer, we couldn't check satellite photos while on expedition. We only received information with our Iridium phone, and also weather reports. But most important was the judgment in field.

ExplorersWeb: What was the challenges/difficulties during your expedition?

Jasu: We mostly cared about polar bears. We saw 5 bears, and 1 bear touched our tent while we were sleeping. We took a motion alarm sensor. It was set around our tent and worked very well. When the polar bear came close to the tent, the alarm went off and we were quickly ready with the shotgun.

ExplorersWeb: Did you see any relics of the Franklin expedition?

Jasu: We found a cairn at Victory point. It was built by Kund Rasmussen in the same landing place of the Franklin expedition survivors.

ExplorersWeb: Did you come in contact with the local people on your route?

Jasu: We received lot of information from local people. But usually nobody go to Gjoa Haven from Resolute; so basically we receive no information about the route.

ExplorersWeb: In Gjoa Haven were you are now, you have talked to the locals. What did they tell you about Franklin?

Jasu: I think they are not interested in the Franklin expedition.

ExplorersWeb: What have the local people told you about your next route on the tundra?

Jasu: From now on, the tundra become thawed. Rivers and lakes are breaking up and the terrain become dangerous.

ExplorersWeb: What do you expect about this route?

Jasu: It's really tough and difficult to find a route. Many places are melting and it will be hard to go on tundra during this season.

Yasunaga Ogita and Yusuke Kakuhata have finished an unassisted, unsupported expedition in the high Canadian Arctic. According to them, they have traveled 1046 km in 60 days from Resolute Bay to Gjoa Haven; retracing the 1845 Franklin expedition.

Yasunaga Ogita (33) has done, among other polar expeditions, a solo expedition to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole in 2010. His team mate, Yusuke Kakuhata (35) is a writer.

In 1845 Sir John Franklin departed England on a doomed voyage meant to traverse the last unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage. His two boats became ice bound in Victoria Strait near King William Island and Franklin and his 128 men were lost.


courtesy Yasunaga Ogita

courtesy Yasunaga Ogita

courtesy Yasunaga Ogita

courtesy Yasunaga Ogita

courtesy Yasunaga Ogita

courtesy Yasunaga Ogita

courtesy Yasunaga Ogita

courtesy Yasunaga Ogita