November 01, 2007

Island of Tragic Beauty

Located some 500 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in the icy Chukchi Sea is the forlorn, enigmatic landmass of Wrangel Island. So remote and isolated is this frozen land that it was not properly mapped until the early 20th century, and then inadvertently, when wildly over-optimistic explorers washed up, shipwrecked, on its shores. 

Trapped in the fringes of the permanent Arctic ice pack, born out of legend and maintained by tales of hardship, endurance and tragedy, Wrangel’s outwardly austere appearance hides not only a tragic and mysterious history, but also a strangely self-contained island ecosystem. 

Two summers ago, I set out aboard the giant Russian icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, to see what all the fuss was about. 

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