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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.