Pierre Berton called the Northwest Passage the “Arctic Grail.” From Martin Frobisher in 1576 to John Franklin in 1845, European explorers searched for a navigable route around the northern rim of North America to Asia. Their efforts were stymied by the thick ice which choked the straits and channels between the Arctic islands, even in summer. Roald Amundsen completed the first transit in 1906, but it took him three years-including two winters lodged in the ice.
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