10 Polar Adventurers Who Never Made It Back Home

The Arctic is a place that remains full of mystery, even now that we have managed to explore a good part of it. Adding to the mystery is the fact that many explorers have disappeared or died trying to traverse its icy landscapes. Another area of ​​intrepid exploration was Antarctica. Whether seeking the North Pole, the South Pole, or the Northwest Passage, these men were driven by the promise of fame and the lure of discovery.

Here are 10 polar adventurers who never made it back home.

Related: 10 of the last unexplored places in the world

10 knight james

James Knight was an 18th century merchant who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The company operated out of James Bay and Hudson Bay and made many deals with Canadian First Nations peoples further north.

As part of his work, Knight himself had quite a bit of contact with these indigenous people, hearing them tell stories about a “yellow metal”, which James assumed to be gold. Now this intrigued James, and he decided it would be a good idea to launch an expedition into the Canadian Arctic, where these tribes came from, to search for that gold.

Although James Knight was not a spring chicken, at the age of 70, he equipped two ships. He named them Discovery and the Albany and left Gravesend to explore the Canadian Arctic. However, she never returned.

No one knew what had happened to James and his crew until around 1991, when divers discovered the wreckage of James’s boats at the bottom of Hudson Bay. To this day, we still don’t know what happened to this Arctic explorer or why he disappeared so many years ago.[1]

9 john franklin

John Franklin was an Englishman who entered the Royal Navy at the young age of 14. During his time in the navy, he was part of several expeditions and eventually became fascinated with the Arctic. He even attempted an expedition in 1818 to reach the North Pole!

Unfortunately for John, however, this love of the Arctic would prove ill-fated. In 1845, Franklin decided to launch an expedition to find the Northwest Passage through Canada. At first the expedition seemed to be going well, and the crew stopped in Greenland to stock up on supplies only a few months after leaving England. That, however, would be the last anyone would see them.

After leaving Greenland, the expedition was not heard from or seen again. The British Navy set about trying to find Franklin and his 160-man crew and launched the largest naval search in Britain to date. However, they found nothing until 170 years later, when the wrecks of Franklin’s ships—the Terror and the Erebus—Were found in Canadian arctic waters.[2]

8 Edward von Toll

Eduard Von Toll was born in Estonia in 1858 and, from a very young age, he developed a love for science. He then went on to study mineralogy, zoology and medicine at university and even went on a research expedition to the Balearic Islands.

It seems that this first expedition inspired him because, in 1900, Eduard embarked on a Russian polar expedition to search for an island called Sannikov Land. During his expedition, Eduard set out to study geology and geography, and he couldn’t have been more excited.

However, things didn’t exactly get off to a good start. The expedition struggled with incredibly harsh winters and had to spend two seasons in the New Siberian Archipelago to wait for the weather to clear. However, all this waiting left Eduard impatient, so he set out with a sled and a kayak to continue the search on his own.

Of course, this was a terrible idea. That was the last time the rest of the party saw Eduard, and despite two search parties being launched in 1903, no trace of Eduard was ever found.[3]

7 robert falcon scott

Robert Falcon Scott was a captain in the British Royal Navy and, like many others before him, was determined to find the South Pole. He led an initial expedition in 1901, which was highly successful. That led him to make a second attempt in 1912.

This second attempt, however, did not go so well. While on the second expedition to the South Pole, Robert had a communication problem when his base camp was unable to send him dog teams when he needed them. Stranded without rescue or supplies, Scott and his companions set up camp. Eventually, they were consumed due to the harsh conditions.

Later, a recovery team discovered Scott and the rest of the team members frozen dead in their tent. They also discovered Antarctic fossils with them, which were a great discovery at the time, as they proved that Antarctica was once laden with vegetation and living things.[4]

6 Vladimir Rusanov

Vladimir Rusanov was a Russian explorer who began his career leading expeditions in 1909. On this expedition, he headed for Novaya Zemlya, and it seems that his expedition was a success because the Russian government assigned him another expedition in 1912, to head for the South Pole. .

Vladimir set sail from what is now Polyarnyy in Russia on June 26, 1912 to begin his expedition. At first things seemed to be going well. The team had a successful summer of fieldwork and sent three members of their team back to Russia to report on their findings. The other ten members of the group, however, set sail again, this time for the Pacific Ocean.

This second expedition did not go as planned, and after their departure, they were never seen again. They were last heard from when they sent a telegram in 1912 outlining their plans, but after that the crew was lost forever.[5]

5 hugh willoughby

Hugh Willoughby was a fearless Englishman and a member of the British Royal Navy in the 16th century. In 1553 Willoughby undertook a naval expedition led by a man named Sebastian Cabot.

As with many other English-led expeditions, the goal of this adventure was to find the Northeast Passage through the Arctic. As part of his expedition, Willoughby received three ships that would help him find this legendary passage.

However, in August 1553, a nasty storm struck, and the fleet of ships became separated from each other. One of the ships managed to reach the White Sea, but the other ships and their crews were lost, never to be seen or heard from again.[6]

4 George W. DeLong

George Washington De Long was an American explorer born in none other than New York City, New York. Although he led many expeditions, the most unfortunate was undoubtedly one he launched in 1881 into the Arctic. What makes this expedition different from the others on this list is that it was led by the US Navy.

De Long was determined to reach the North Pole. She set sail in 1879 from San Francisco on the USS Jeannette, traversing the Bering Strait and rising near northern Siberia. However, while navigating these waters, De Long became trapped on pack ice. Although De Long and his crew managed to get off the ship with their stores and several lifeboats, this would not be enough.

Their destination was more than 600 miles (965 kilometers) away. Although they attempted to sail further north, the lifeboats became separated and lost. De Long is said to have died of weather and starvation, while several of his other men were lost at sea, never to be seen again.[7]

3 Georgy Brusilov

Georgy Brusilov was a Russian explorer who set out in 1912 to map the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The idea was to create a route called the Northern Sea Route. Unfortunately, however, the ship became icebound rather quickly and the crew was forced to spend the winter waiting for the ice to thaw.

However, when summer came, the ship was still stuck, and Georgy had become quite ill. In an attempt to save the captain from him, several crew members abandoned the ship and attempted to return home by walking south on drifting ice.

However, this plan did not go as expected and Georgy, along with many other crew members, disappeared somewhere along the way. Although Georgy, his ship, and his crew were never found, years later, in 2010, explorers managed to find the belongings of some crew members. Included in these belongings was a log book, detailing exactly what had happened to the unlucky crew.[8]

2 Belgrave Edward Ninnis

Unlike many of the other explorers who have made the cut on this list, Belgrave Edward Ninnis was not an expedition leader. Instead, he was just an expedition member on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

The expedition was launched in 1911 from Australia, with the aim of exploring the Antarctic coast, which lies just to the south of the island. The expedition was largely a success and lasted a total of three years. During the expedition, the explorers established communication systems between Australia and Antarctica.

However, there was a setback that marred the success of the expedition: the disappearance of Belgrave Edward Ninnis. During the crew’s exploration of Antarctica, poor Edward fell into an ice crevasse and plummeted into the abyss. Despite rescue attempts to get him out, he was never seen again.[9]

1 SA Andrea

While most Arctic expeditions take place by ship, one explorer in particular named SA Andrée decided to think outside the box and try exploring the North Pole with a different mode of transportation: a hot air balloon. Now, as you can probably imagine, this was a terrible idea.

The entire expedition got off to a rocky start when the polar balloon arrived in Sweden, where the SA Andrée and her crew were ready for takeoff, untested. On top of that, the balloon was shown to be leaking!

However, none of that stopped Andrée. So, in 1897, he and his two co-pilots set out from Svalbard to explore the Arctic. However, just two days later, the balloon lost hydrogen and crashed into the ice pack below.

Despite being unharmed, the explorers found themselves stuck in the Arctic without supplies or support. They ended up stranded in the cold on a deserted island in the Arctic. No one heard or heard from them again until 1930, when a serendipitous discovery found the remains of the last crew camp, and the mysterious disappearance was finally buried.[10]

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