100 daily views – an all time high for Polnytt!

A few days ago, we reached an all time high of 100 daily visits to this site, and over 1600 monthly visits! We must be doing something right – mostly re-posting bits of polar news we find interesting and adding the occasional comment, as well as writing an original entry once in a blue moon. We try to post environmental information that becomes more and more important as the ice melts under the polar bears feet, and stuff that lies within Hornorkesterets sphere of interest.

At this point, we’d like to thank all or readers for staying with us for this long!

Do you feel you could contribute to Polnytt? Articles on current polar issues, polar history, environmental issues, norwegian identy, sami culture, inuit culture, early music and experimental acoustic instruments are welcome – drop me (Hornfar/Jonas) a line at hornorkesteret@lavabit.com and I may add you as a contributor to this blog. No racists or tree-hugging neo-folk nazis, please!

For those of you who long for more Hornorkesteret news, there will be more exciting information coming up as we close in on the 99 year anniversary of the conquest of the South Pole in December 2010, and even more as we work our way towards the centennial anniversary in 2011. But before that, new instruments, new stage costumes and props, new videos, the  release of our CD anthology, new collaboration projects and concerts, so stay tuned!

Our main site, http://www.hornorkesteret.no is down at the moment and we are working on getting a new server space for it. For now, keep your eyes on Polnytt, our Myspace page and the unofficial Hornorkesteret fanpage on Facebook.

Newly discovered Arctic graves could be tied to Franklin expedition

(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News, 19 September 2010) — A British adventurer has piqued the interest of the Canadian government after reporting the discovery of skeletal human remains on a small, unnamed island in Arctic waters close to where members of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition are known to have disappeared more than 160 years ago. Bear Grylls, star of the popular Man vs. Wild outdoor survival TV series, claims to have found bones, charred wood and other artifacts earlier this month during a charity-fundraising expedition to cross the Northwest Passage in a rigid inflatable boat. At the expedition website, Grylls described how he and his team members discovered the remnants of a mysterious campsite on Sept. 2 on an tiny island in Wellington Strait east of King William Island — the place where some of the survivors from Franklin’s ice-locked ships Erebus and Terror took shelter in the late 1840s before they eventually succumbed to cold and starvation. “We found the rocky outline of a grave set by some stranded visitor long ago,” Grylls wrote at his expedition blog. “And at the grave, we saw bones. And a small piece of felt or fabric. And then as we looked there was another grave. And another, and a fourth.” Such sites are not unheard of among Canada’s Arctic islands, where extreme cold and dry conditions can preserve archeological remains intact for generations or even centuries.

Yacht accomplishes Arctic Sea Route, sails on to circumnavigate the North Pole

Via Circumpolar Musings:
(Voice of Russia, 6 September 2010) — An 18-metre Russian yacht with a young girl for First Mate has made it all along the Arctic shortcut from Europe to East Asia. The passage measured 12 and half thousand nautical miles, including 3 and a half thousand amid heavy ice. The eight-member crew of the ‘Peter the First’ is into a fourth month of a circumpolar attempt.

Original article here

Article from the launch of the expedition:

Russian yachtsmen aim for Arctic record

Russia’s Peter I yacht will set sail from St. Petersburg on June 4, at 4:00 p.m. Moscow Times, on an ambitious 12,500-mile trip around the Arctic, the world’s first such voyage without an icebreaker.

Preparations for the trip were launched in September. The yacht has been fully renovated and re-equipped and its hull was lengthened to 19 m to ensure better maneuverability. One of the crewmates, Sergei Murzayev, told the Voice of Russia by telephone hours before the departure that all equipment had been given a thorough check:

“We are checking out photo and video equipment, how good it is, and we are also checking our communications devices to be able to transmit our data online, post photo and video materials on the Internet and get in touch with the mainland.”

A sophisticated on-board navigation system will send back the yacht’s coordinates 24 hours a day. Given the extreme conditions of the Arctic, the crew must be well-informed about the weather and ice situation. Detailed weather forecasts will be provided by specialists in the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in Moscow.

Sergei Murzayev: “There will be daily radio linkups. We will be receiving online data about the ice situation that we need so much. And we will maintain radio contact with other ships and with ground centers.”

The crew is amazingly young, all under 25, including the captain. But those are well-trained and experienced yachtsmen braced for challenges and ready to deal with emergencies. And they don’t mind some tourists keeping them company. A cozy room awaits those who would dare join them on board. All a would-be tourist needs to do is to contact the expedition’s coastal staff or call the crew from a cell phone. The pleasure will cost 350,000 rubles or $12,000.

Sergei Murzayev: “We all hope that the expedition will be a success, that we will circumnavigate the Arctic, set a new world record, keep the crew and the boat well and safe, and plant Russian flags where we want to plant them.”

By August 15 the crew hopes to reach the northernmost point of the Eurasian continent – Cape Chelyuskin, and by September 1, it hopes to round Cape Dezhnev, Eurasia’s easternmost point. The yacht is due back to St. Petersburg in November.

Original article here

Mystery Arctic box unearthed, may contain Franklin’s log, but more likely Amundsens magnetic observations

Wally Porter (left) shows the cairn where his grandfather buried what may be the logbooks from the ill-fated Franklin expedition to writer Ken McGoogan. Photograph by: Sheena Fraser McGoogan, Postmedia News

Vancouver Sun via Circumpolar Musings:
By Ken McGoogan, Postmedia News September 5, 2010

An old wooden box excavated from beneath an Arctic cairn is being flown unopened Monday to Ottawa from the Nunavut hamlet of Gjoa Haven.

The Nunavut-government launched the excavation after an Inuit family relayed oral history suggesting that the cairn contained records from the ill-fated 1845 expedition led by Sir John Franklin in search of the Northwest Passage.

But Canadian historian Kenn Harper, who has spent months researching the cairn, says the box will prove to contain records left in 1905 by explorer Roald Amundsen during the first-ever navigation of the Passage.

The box, which measures 14.5 x 11 x 6.5 inches, will be opened and its contents preserved at the Canadian Conservation Institute.

Harper, author of the best-selling Inuit biography Give Me My Fathers Body, and also Honorary Danish Consul in Nunavut, says the box contains papers that Amundsen buried after spending almost two years in Gjoa Haven tracking the movements of the North Magnetic Pole.

He began investigating the cairn after learning of the claim by descendants of George Washington Porter II, a Hudson’s Bay Company manager based in that hamlet on King William Island.

Harper says that Eric Mitchell of the HBC, the senior man in the territory, dug up the Amundsen records in 1958, with the help of Porter II. The two men found documents that had first been discovered in 1927 by William Paddy Gibson, an HBC inspector who reburied them.

Gibson wrote in The Beaver magazine of finding the records, which included a signed photograph of Georg V. Neumayer, a German scientist who had sparked Amundsens interest in the North Magnetic Pole.

Harper predicted that the Saturday excavation would turn up an old HBC ammunition box. Andrew Porter, who runs a tourism business in Gjoa Haven, says that just such a box was found three feet beneath the cairn.

Harper says the unopened box contains a metal canister in a bed of tallow. Inside the canister, conservators will find the Amundsen documents in an envelope sewn into an oilskin packet and wrapped in pages from a 1950s Nautical Almanac and an Edmonton newspaper.

Harper, who has lived in the Arctic for over 30 years, doubts that any Franklin documents will be found. He believes that oral history has confused Franklin and Amundsen.

Original article here

Manitoba polar bear wanders 400 km south

(CBC News, 30 August 2010) — A polar bear has created a buzz of excitement in the northern Manitoba community of Shamattawa. The bear was spotted Sunday swimming in the river, about 400 kilometres south of the Churchill tundra where the big white bears are typically found. Residents spotted the bear at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, according to RCMP. Officers launched the police boat and made a patrol, locating the lone bear swimming in the river and drinking at the shore. “The bear appeared to be young, but was quite a good size … [and] the people in the community were very excited to see it,” RCMP Sgt. Noel Allard said. “This is the first time anyone in the area remembers seeing a polar bear,” Allard said after speaking to several elders in the community. Manitoba Conservation wildlife manager Daryll Hedman called the sighting rare but not an unheard-of occurrence. He believes the last time they were called about a polar bear in that community was in the mid-1990s, although some polar bears have actually been seen even further south. It is probably a teenaged bear, Hedman said, noting those are the ones that tend to explore. “They wander. They are built for travel,” he said. RCMP members monitored the bear’s movements until darkness fell and it left the area.

Via Circumpolar Musings

Original article here