Sunday, May 22, 2011

Japanese duo retrace Franklin's steps

Faithful readers of this blog will recall, perhaps, my posting from back in February about a previously unknown Japanese adventurer, Yusuke Kakuhata, and his bold plan to retrace Franklin's footsteps across some of the most barren areas of the Arctic, unsupported and on foot. At the time, I was doubly skeptical -- first, that the attempt was real, given that its only mention was on a relatively unknown English-language Japanese news site -- and second, that such a journey, undertaken as it appeared to be by a man whose previous experiences were all on guided expeditions, seemed foolhardy. It now appears I was mistaken on both fronts -- according to this new posting at the ExplorersWeb site, Mr. Kakuhata and his fellow traveller, the more experienced Yasunaga Ogita (both pictured above) have indeed completed the most difficult leg of their planned trip, making the more than 1,000 kilometre trip from Resolute Bay to Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, in 60 days. Having left Resolute on March 15, they are now resting in Gjoa before departing on the final section of their journey toward the Baker Lake region. This would seem to evoke the route supposed to have been traversed by the mysterious Kabloona known only as "Aglooka," and supposed by Charles Francis Hall to have been Francis Crozier -- for he and his two or three companions (depending on the source) are the only members of Franklin's party said by the Inuit to have headed out in this direction. Ogita and Kakuhata plan to start their journey taking sleds, then switch to backpacks when the snow withdraws and the tundra begins to thaw. The article also mentions that Mr. Ogita has been posting updates to his blog -- it's in Japanese, and didn't see a translation link, though you can auto-translate it and get the general gist.

I for one would certainly want to congratulate these two travellers -- their undertaking, although not unprecedented (the American Express Franklin Memorial Expedition followed much the same route in 2003) is certainly remarkable in its being undertaken by such a small, unsupported party, and commencing so early in the season. I hope we'll soon have more details of their journey.


  1. Thanks for this update Russell.

    It's almost too strange to seem real, a not unusual response to much that happens in the Franklin-o-phile world.

    Clicked around on the site, though, and lots of non-word items of interest, including:

    - Sattelite map of route travelled so far. Quite the journey indeed.

    - Photos. Looks like they spent at least part of their time in an igloo.
    Full photo gallery is here.

    - Gear.

    What a thrill (he says sitting comfortably and warmly from his desk in Toronto!). If anyone wants to be a copycat next year, let me know!

  2. I was just pondering the progress of these two. Thanks for the update! I hope their odyssey serves to augment our appreciation for the gallantry of Franklin's men. May they have the best of luck.

  3. Offtopic:

    Does anyone think this technology could be used in the arctic to locate the ships? And possible graves on KWI?