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Klondikers after the North Pole, 1905

Dr. Antony Varicle

The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) - Monday, August 21, 1905

Klondikers after the North Pole, 1905
[Special Dispateh to "The Examiner."]

    SEATTLE, August 20. - The Klondike, with her many millionaire miners, aided by the Yukon Territory Government officials, is to take a hand in North Pole exploration. The scheme is novel in the extreme. If money and Arctic pluck can find the pole, its definite location in accordance with scientific data and regulation will be proclaimed in the near future. The proposition to capture the pole was proposed in Dawson some weeks ago and now the movement is taking definite shape.

    It is proposed, on scientific and methodical lines, with the Yukon malamute and the traditional ice and mountain-climbing mule as two of the chief agencies. Advices from the north state that the people of Dawson have organized, with a membership of 200, the International Society for Polar Research and Experiment. The ultimate object, after ascertaining the most logical and practicable plans, is to launch an expedition for the North Pole,

Prominent Men Present.

    At the meeting Governor W. W. B. McInnes of Yukon Territory; Dr. Alfred Thompson, member of the Canadian Parliament; the Hon. Justices Dugas, Craig and MacAulay, the three highest judges of the territory; Major Z. T. Wood, commander of the Northwest Mounted Police; members of foreign consulates and others were patrons, and occupied prominent seats at the front of the hall.

    The scheme was originated by Dr. Antony Varicle, a Parisian inventor and scientist, now in Dawson, who has spent some time in the Yukon, and has made research and study of the subject of polar research. Dr. Varicle was given an ovation when he appeared.

    A statement setting forth the plans of the expedition was given by Charles MacDonald, clerk of the Territorial Court of the Yukon.

    MacDonald said the expeditions of all former polar explorers or pole seekers have been conducted on anything but lines that would be approved by the northern travelers of experience. Yukoners found many weak points in the methods of travel, equipment and composition of nearly every polar expedition of the past.

How Nansen Erred.

    The most familiar example of polar endeavor is the Nansen expedition. In that expedition it is shown by Nansen’s own book that he understood little of equipping and handling long-distance expeditions. Yukoners handle them with much more simplicity, ease and skill. Nansen worked in heavy skin robes and was immersed in sweat, then chilled in the ice thereof. Yukoners travel in the light parka and never permit themselves to sweat.

    Nansen traveled with dogs weighing fifty pounds. Yukoners never use dogs weighing less than 100 to 150 pounds. Nansen drove his dogs with each hitched to a single strand and they always were entangled and caused interminable trouble and endless delay. Yukoners drive their dogs in tandem harness and have scarcely any such trouble. Nansen had no handles to his sleighs. Handles are a great and indispensable essential to the Yukoner in helping right the sleighs.

Sailors Not Suitable.

    Nearly every expedition sent to the Arctic thus far has been composed of sailors, men who are useless on land or anywhere but aboard ship. Those not military were largely so.

    It is the object and plan of Dr. Varicle to draw the great contrast right here. He will have none but the most experienced northern mushers and travelers, and none but the most experienced and best trained heavy Yukon dogs.

    The question of fue! and sufficient supplies to carry the expedition across the ice is the stickler. Varicle proposed to overcome this with an auxiliary expedition of mules. He can make the mules last 130 days or more by killing one every few days for food. The carcass of each mule killed will be converted into dog food. Varicle plans to take thirty mules and thus to supply no end of dog food. The food hauled by one mule will be fed to all the mules until the supply on the one sleigh is exhausted. Then the first mule will be killed and his carcass given to the dogs. The second mule will suffer likewise, and so on until the last few mules will be many days along the route before their time will come. With ten
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Klondikers after the North Pole, 1905

mules 139 days would elapse beford the last mule would be killed.

    By thus supplying the dogs with mule meat, each dog will have nothing to haul but supplies for the men. The knowledge of Nansen's success with the oil burner will be utilized. No artificial heat will be needed for the bodies. The oil will be only for cooking purposes. Yukoners often travel many weeks, sleeping under the open sky with it 40 to 50 of more below, with only a fur robe for a bed.

    His plan is to start from Grant Land and to dash overland, or over the ice, 700 miles to the pole and then continue 600 more to Franz Joseph land, straight beyond from Grant land, and to make the journey in about 130 days or less. Ships will make connections at both ends and each ship will be equipped with wireless telegraph instruments, with which the travelers can communicate when within proper distance of the ship. The wireless will help to locate the ship without delay.


    It ts the plan to try out all experiments in the Yukon, with Dawson the headquarters, this winter, and to get the expedition started next June. Eli Verreau and many other famous Yukon mushers have volunteered to go with Varicle. The society formed on motion of Dr. Alfred Thompson, member of Parliament, seconded by T. D. Pattullo, Consul for Norway and Sweden. Governor McInnes and the other patrons were the first to sign the membership roll.

    General Greeley, former Arctic pole searcher and chief of the United States Signal Corps, was in Dawson recently and conferred with Dr. Varicle on the proposed trip. The general was keenly interested. He asked the doctor to keep him fully informed of every development and movement in the undertaking and prom- ised his endorsement and what aid he might be able to render.

    The general believes the doctor's scheme is founded on good sense and judgment.