Frederick Albert Cook planned to attempt to reach the North Pole, although he did not announce his intention until August 1907, when he was already in the Arctic. He left Annoatok, a small settlement in the north of Greenland, in February 1908. Cook claimed that he reached the pole on April 22nd, 1908 after traveling north from Axel Heiberg Island, taking with him only two Inuit men, Ahpellah and Etukishook. Going back on the journey south, he claimed to have been cut off from his intended route to Annoatok by open water. Living off local game, his party was forced to push south to Jones Sound, spending the open water season and part of the winter on Devon Island. From there they traveled north, eventually crossing Nares Strait to Annoatok on the Greenland side in the spring of 1909. They almost died of starvation during the journey.
Cook and his two companions were gone from Annoatok for 14 months, and their whereabouts in that period is a matter of intense controversy.
Cook never produced detailed original navigational records to substantiate his claim to have reached the North Pole. He said that his detailed records were part of his belongings, contained in three boxes, which he left at Annoatok in April 1909. He had left them with Harry Whitney, an American hunter who had traveled to Greenland with Peary the previous year, because of the lack of manpower for a second sledge for his 700-mile journey south to Upernavik. When Whitney tried to bring Cook's boxes with him on his return to the USA on Peary's ship Roosevelt in 1909, Peary refused to allow them on board. As a result, Whitney left Cook's boxes in a cache in Greenland. They were never found.