Alert, 82°30′ N, on top of the world

Alert is the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world. Located at 82°30′ N on the Northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island only 817 km from the North Pole and with the nearest Canadian city more than 2000 km away.

Military plane for Alert
Military plane going to Alert

The Canadian Forces have a base here (CFS Alert), co-habitating with a weather station and a Global Atmosphere Watch laboratory. Around 75 people are stationed here, year-round. Twice a year supply planes reach Alert from Thule Air Base on Greenland, where I worked as a doctor. Visitors are allowed on the military plane on a first-come, first-serve basis and I waited two days in the hangar to get a so called seat in the back of the Canadian military plane.

Military plane for Alert
On the way to Alert

Flight time is less than two hours. I remember Hans Ø was pointed out to me, the place of a bizarre “whisky” conflict between Denmark and Canada. And we flew past the massive 110 km wide Humboldt Glacier flying over the Kane Basin and up to Ellesmere Island and finally CFS Alert

Alert, Nunavut
Alert, Nunavut

As with Thule Air Base, it is an arctic desert up here. Flat and barren. And from here it is 817 km of straight travel through icy waters to the North Pole.

Alert, view towards the North Pole
Alert, view towards the North Pole

The base itself consist of a collection of flat, unassuming buildings and we stayed only a couple of hours for the plane to drop the cargo before returning to Thule Air Base.

Travel to Alert
On the plane to Alert

Other posts on Greenland:

Doctor in Greenland – the basic facts.
Doctor in Qaanaaq: 24 hours on call.
The doctors visit to Siorapaluk, the northernmost settlement in Greenland.
24 hours working as a doctor in Nanortalik.
Life as a doctor on Thule Air Base.

A photogallery of Alert is available on flickr.

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