National Geographic : 1955 Apr
snaps and groans were the only sounds other than our own voices. Not a building showed above the snowy desert. Then a weasel snow ve hicle waddled over the hill and hauled us to the sta tion, a mile and a half away and invisible from the landing strip. Among Canadian-U. S. weather stations Alert is closest to the North Pole, a mere 518 miles. It houses the most northerly post office on earth and the northernmost land based radio and weather station (pages 544-5, 566-7). Far north as it is, Alert received a message in De cember, 1953: "Christmas Greetings to our southern friends." It was a saluta tion from T-3,an ice island drifting slowly with the Arctic Ocean pack; it was then 225 miles to the northwest.* John Brisbois, Canadian radio operator at Alert, had talked over the air 557 U . S. Weather Bureau waves with Dr. Gilbert Marilyn Monroe Makes Typing Dull at Mould Bay Grosvenor, recently retired Lack of feminine companionship imposes a hardship during year-long as President of The Na- duty tours at northern outposts. Darts, reading, chess, skiing, record tional Geographic Society playing, table tennis, and other diversions cannot compensate. Personal appearance becomes a problem. For many an isolated man, the choice is and Editor of its Maga- amateur barbering or a mop of uncut hair. zine, and with Dr. Thomas W. McKnew, The Society's Vice-President and other heavy equipment are barged to shore. Secretary, when they circled Alert on a flight For 147 days each year the sun never sets to the North Pole in the spring of 1953.t at Alert; during 145 winter days it is lost be "We had more snow in '53 than this year," low the horizon. Now, at the end of April, John told us. "Huge drifts half-buried the the sun rode ceaselessly around the sky. We camp. Dr. Grosvenor, I remember, thought ate meals at odd hours. Photographs Jack we were snowbound; I reassured him that we Fletcher took at midnight differed little from weren't, but that we still didn't have any those made in the blaze of noon. place to go." At the edge of the polar sea we walked Alert's buildings overlook Dumb Bell Bay. among upended slabs and pinnacles of the In three annual tries in late summer, a U. S. pack ice. Jumping fissures, we paused in the icebreaker from Thule poked far enough into * See "Three Months on an Arctic Ice Island," by the Arctic Ocean to reach Alert. But last year Joseph O. Fletcher, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, the ice refused to yield, stopping the hippo- April, 1953. beamed craft short of its goal. In a normal t See "We Followed Peary to the Pole," by Gilbert Grosvenor and Thomas W. McKnew, NATIONAL GEO season, fuel, building materials, vehicles, and GRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1953.