We did t all come back. Thus begins the rare firsthand account of the extraordinary ordeal of the Karluk, the flagship of explorer Vilhjalmar Stefansson's Arctic expedition of 1913-1916. When ice trapped the Karluk, Stefansson abandoned Captain Robert A. Bartlett and the crew-eleven of whom perished-to their fate. When the ice crushed the Karluk and sank her, Bartlett led the shipwrecked survivors safely to Wrangell Island. From there, with one Inuit companion, he journeyed across 700 miles of frozen seas and Siberian wilderness to return with rescuers. It is a feat that rivals Shackleton's own celebrated efforts to seek for the crew of the Endurance.
Captain Robert A. Bartlett, the greatest ice captain who ever lived, commanded the Roosevelt on Robert E. Peary's last two attempts to conquer the North Pole; pioneered the trail over rough ice that brought Peary to within 150 miles of his goal; and was the last white man Peary sent back before his final dash to the Pole. Edward E. Leslie is the author of Desperate Journeys and Abandoned Souls: The True Story of Castaways and Other Survivors. He lives in Massillon, Ohio.