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Against the Ice

 Against the Ice
In 1909, Danish explorer Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen leads an expedition to Shannon Island, East Greenland, in an attempt to recover records from the Denmark expedition, which had previously failed in the region. He sets out with a crewman, but the first attempt is unsuccessful and the crewman suffers frostbite. During the trek, Mikkelsen discovers a dead Denmark expedition member with a map and log indicating the location of a cairn built by the expedition.

Mikkelsen's only volunteer for the second attempt is an inexperienced engineer named Iver Iversen, while the rest of the crew remains behind. The two men lose two of their sled dogs in the first few days and eventually have to sacrifice the remaining dogs for food. They also encounter and kill a polar bear. After three months of searching, they locate the cairn and find records that disprove the existence of the Peary Channel, thus demonstrating that Greenland is a single island and that the United States has no claim to the Arctic.

On their way back to Shannon Island, Mikkelsen becomes concerned that they may not survive, so they build another cairn about 200 miles away and deposit the records from the Denmark expedition. When they finally return to Shannon Island, they find that the rest of the crew has gone home, leaving them stranded. They are forced to spend two winters in a cabin with food and supplies while their crewmates try to mount a rescue mission.

During their long isolation, Mikkelsen and Iversen return to the cairn they built and retrieve the records. They also have several strange experiences, including Mikkelsen hallucinating that his lover Naja Holm is with him and Iversen imagining meeting his grandfather. Mikkelsen almost kills Iversen with a rifle, and the two men come close to losing their sanity before being rescued in 1912.

The evidence from the Denmark expedition leads to the United States recognizing Greenland as a single island belonging to Denmark. An epilogue reveals that Mikkelsen married Naja a year later, that Iversen never returned to the Arctic, and that the two men remained friends for the rest of their lives.

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