be ethical means that, at the very least, what you do has no effect on
others, and at the very most, has a positive effect on them. There is no
such thing as ethical behavior that does harm." -- Pam Flowers
Magnetic North Pole Expedition: Resolute Bay to the Magnetic
North Pole, on April 9, 1991 Pam and three sled dogs set out alone from
Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada to travel 325 miles to the Magnetic North Pole.
The Magnetic North Pole and the geographic
North Pole are not the same. The geographic North Pole is a stable point
at the top of the world where the earth rotates on its axis and varies
in location by only a few feet throughout the year. The Magnetic North
Pole is a region where magnetic forces enter the earth. This region is
in constant motion in an elliptical orbit that varies anywhere from
10-30 kilometers east to west and about 50-110 kilometers north to
south. The region is continually drifting northwest at approximately
8-12 kilometers per year.
In the early 1900's, the Magnetic North
Pole was rotating beyond the northwest corner of King William Island.
That it was in constant motion and drifting was confirmed through
scientific studies carried out by Norwegian explorer (and my hero) Roald
During the time of this research,
Amundsen and his men lived aboard their ship called Gjoa and the bay in
which it lay at anchor was named Gjoa Haven. Rather quickly, a community
of Native people grew up near the ship and thus began the community of
Gjoa Havent that exists to this day in Nunavut, Canada. At
the time of Amundsen's research, countless numbers of people for an
indeterminable number of years had already walked directly over the
Magnetic North Pole.
From the early 1970's until the
present, many polar adventurers have traveled to the region of the
Magnetic North Pole, using the nearest community of Resolute Bay as
their starting point and traveling by various means across the surface
of land and ice. By 1991 it had drifted about 650 miles and was in the
area of the Noice Pennisula on Ellef Rignes Island.
So in 1991 it was Pam's goal to become
the first woman in modern history to travel solo from Resolute
Bay to the Magnetic North Pole, ever mindful that in the past many
Native women had long since walked over that curious place on our
planet. It would be Pam's second journey to the Magnetic North Pole
because she had traveled there by dog team with a friend in 1987.
For nineteen days during Pam's 1991
expedition she and her dogs traveled the most common route. This took
them around the large western bulge of Cornwallis Island, past Little
Cornwallis Island and the now defunct lead-zinc Polaris Mine, up the
eastern coast of Bathurst Island, past King Christian Island, and on to
the Noice Pennisula of Ellef Rignes Island where the Magnetic North Pole
was drifting. Pam walked almost the entire way, while her three husky
dogs, Douggie, Matt, and Robert pulled the sleds. Along the way, they
encountered a polar bear, rough ice, thin ice, and storms.
Pam and her dogs reached the Magnetic
North Pole on April 27, 1991. When Pam pulled out her magnetic compass,
she found it pointing straight down, confirming that indeed she and her
dogs were in the region known as the Magnetic North Pole.