In the summer of 1996, a small group of mountaineers and scientists embarked on one of the unique expeditions of this century. THE 1996 AMERICAN TOP OF THE WORLD EXPEDITION travelled to and explored the end of the Earth, the northernmost land on our globe, North Peary Land Greenland.
North Peary Land is a large peninsula within the world's largest National Park located on the northern coast of Greenland. This region holds the unique distinction of having the northernmost terrestrial ecosystem and is the home of the world's two northernmost mountain ranges; the heavily glaciated Roosevelt Range and the more isolated and yet to be explored H.H. Benedict Range. Oodaaq Island, located off the northern coast of North Peary Land, has been recently surveyed to be the northernmost point of land on Earth.
Only 400 miles away from the North Pole, North Peary Land is a huge oasis of dry land described as a "Polar Desert." Precipitation levels are so minimal that it escaped the glacial blanket of the last ice age! Herds of must ox, 33 species of flowering plants, arctic hare, polar bear, polar wolf, arctic fox, and fresh water fishes were among the known or expected denizens of this remarkable zone.
The Expedition Team, composed of ten mountaineers and scientists, planned to carry out a diverse exploration program including landmark mountaineering goals and original scientific research. Exploration conducted by the team was expected to provide invaluable information on this largely unexplored arctic environment. Original objectives included:
1. Trek To Oodaaq Island- The team's main goal was to put the first Americans on the northernmost point of land on Earth, Oodaaq Island. The team also intended to achieve the first ever traverse from the coast of North Peary Land over the pack ice to the island. The Expedition anticipated this incredible journey to provide rare historical and artistic photographic opportunities.
2. Star Spangled Banner Peak Summit Ascent- The H.H. Benedict range's interior, laced with spectacular glaciers and dotted with remote peaks, had yet to be explored. The highest summit in the range, "Star Spangled Banner Peak", was the Expeditions' primary goal. A successful ascent would be the first ever!
3. Helvetia Tinde- This peak is the highest summit in the northernmost mountain range (the Roosevelt) on Earth. A successful ascent, planned via the southwest ridge, would be the first by an American team and only the second ever.
4. Scientific Program- The Expedition's scientific program would expand on previous research in the region as well as perform original investigations including:
Many of the scientific studies ended up not to be possible due restrictions on sample collection in this fragile environment.
First Americans Ever to traverse from the coast of North Peary Land over the pack ice to nearby Oodaaq Island, recently surveyed to be the northernmost point of land on Earth. This incredible journey provided rare historical and artistic photographic opportunities, including a professionally produced video on the Expedition.
First Ever Ascents of the two highest peaks in the the unexplored H.H. Benedicts Range, Stjernebannertinde (Star Spangled Banner Peak) and Rink Fjeld.