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Marooned: A deadly Arctic expedition

Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT) July 11, 2013
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During a 1913 expedition to explore the region north of Alaska and Canada, 31 people aboard the Canadian sponsored ship Karluk became trapped in ice, beginning a yearlong ordeal. Click through the images for photos from the historic adventure. Library and Archives Canada
In this expedition photo which was taken before shipping out, Vilhjalmur Stefansson (front row, third from the left) was joined by his secretary Burt McConnell, (middle row, second from left) and the ship's captain, Robert Bartlett (front row, second from left). Library and Archives Canada
Stefansson, 33, was ambitious, optimistic and quick to court fame. He had made a name for himself demonstrating that even in the most barren emptiness, a determined and resourceful explorer could live off the frozen land. Library and Archves of Canada
McConnell -- seen here fixing a meal on a sled -- was husky, energetic and just 22 when he set out with the expedition. The mission was to conquer the last unexplored part of the north. Library and Archives of Canada
The Karluk was an aging 129-foot whaling ship bought by the Canadian government, seen here Esquimalt Harbor. When the expedition weighed anchor in Nome, Alaska, McConnell wrote to his sweetheart how thrilling it was to embark on the trip. Library and Archives of Canada
Soon after leaving port in Alaska, the ship encountered the worst summer ice in memory. Trapped, the Karluk was unable to turn back or move forward. Although they were only a few miles from land, they were hundreds of miles from civilization and winter was approaching. Library and Archives Canada
While stuck on the ship, the men built sleds and boats like this Eskimo-style umiak, to use in case they lost their ship and then had to cross the ice or water. Stefansson took some of the expedition's best dogs and five men, including McConnell, and set out for shore to hunt for meat. The ship soon drifted away, cutting off Stefansson and McConnell's group from the Karluk. Library and Archives Canada
Trapped in drifting ice, the remaining men knew they were moving farther and farther from land, and the days were getting shorter and shorter. It was clear that if the ice did not release them soon, they would be stuck throughout the winter and carried even farther away from civilization. Library and Archives Canada
After drifting for five months, the ship sank under the ice one night, forcing everyone to move themselves and their gear onto the ice. Desperate to save his men, Bartlett made a risky decision. He and a crewman traveled by sled across ice riddled with daunting ridges and treacherous gaps to find help in Siberia, hundreds of miles away. Library and Archives Canada
More than a year after the ship became trapped, Bartlett made it back to Alaska and organized several failed attempts to rescue the 12 men still clinging to life on the ice. Finally, the schooner King and Winge reached the stranded explorers. Overall, 11 of the original 31 Karluk expedition members had died.
Library and Archives Canada