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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Towards Bee­ren­berg

Towards Bee­ren­berg

Bee­ren­berg is cer­tain­ly more dif­fi­cult than the alti­tu­de of a mere 2277 m sug­gests. Only on a handful of days in a year the wea­ther is good enough to allow an ascent. And the logi­stics, dif­fi­cult any­way, are a night­ma­re sin­ce the new regu­la­ti­ons were intro­du­ced in 2010: no tents any­whe­re but Kval­ross­buk­ta. If this bene­fits the envi­ron­ment (or sci­ence, for that sake), is ano­ther ques­ti­on, I guess I’ll return to that later.

This means that any attempt to climb Bee­ren­berg will start for nor­mal peo­p­le (that is ever­y­bo­dy unless you work at the sta­ti­on or you are offi­ci­al­ly sup­port­ed by Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties) with a hike of almost 20 km. And then you start the long ascent over rocky slo­pes and crev­as­sed gla­ciers. Sure­ly not ever­y­bo­dies cup of tea.

We have had our share of wea­ther of all kinds both during the crossing and the first 24 hours on Jan May­en, which was not too encou­ra­ging. Actual­ly quite deman­ding. So for today, we had agreed with the sta­ti­on to pay them a visit to get a nice, not too long hike for the first real day here.

But Sig­gi (Sigur­dur, the skip­per) had got new wea­ther infor­ma­ti­on, which spo­ke a clear lan­guage. If an attempt on Bee­ren­berg was to be made, it had to be tomor­row. If it was pos­si­ble at all.

But the­re was only one way to find out. So we could not afford a rather rela­xed day to get accli­ma­ti­zed, which would have been good. Ins­tead, pack­ing again. Equip­ment and food for bivac and gla­cier.

Gus­ty winds and rain show­ers were still hit­ting the tents, so we took it with time. We cle­ar­ly did not have any desi­re to start wet into such an under­ta­king. We deci­ded to make good use of the advan­ta­ges of the mid­night sun.

Final­ly it was time to start. Fol­lo­wing the road for the first bit, we then went nor­thwards over Puk­kel­ryg­gen, a chain of mos­sy hills, old vol­ca­nic cra­ters, one after ano­ther. Land­scape in dark black, rus­ty read and strong mos­sy green, all threa­ten­ed to be drow­ned in the hea­vy grey of today’s low clouds. We took a breath at a litt­le stream, Pur­ple saxif­ra­ge and Alpi­ne moun­tain sor­rel ever­y­whe­re, flowers well-known from Spits­ber­gen, which appears as such a fri­end­ly place from the Jan May­en per­spec­ti­ve. Pas­sing an old figh­ter air­plane wreck from the mad days of WWII, behind it a fog­gy view to the nor­t­hern lagoon. A shame just to walk past it today, but we still have many kilo­me­t­res to go, the long way makes its­elf alre­a­dy felt, and so does the weight of the ruck­sacks.

Some of us turn back at Jøs­sing­da­len. Tho­se who hope to climb Bee­ren­berg con­ti­nue into the fog nor­thwards. The remai­ning four fol­low the road south. A last, easy chan­ce to make a decis­i­on and turn one’s back to the vol­ca­noe. Some of us are cer­tain­ly con­side­ring, then a quick good­bye and on we go, dis­ap­pearing into a moon-like land­scape of black vol­ca­nic sand desert and lava fields, fol­lo­wing the road which is win­ding its way bet­ween rocky out­crops. They have even set up a few road signs of drift­wood.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

After a long 18 kilo­me­t­res, we have rea­ched Eke­rold­da­len. Quot licet iovi, non licet bovi – for some pri­vi­le­ged indi­vi­du­als, this is the par­king place, other may not even set up a camp. So we roll our slee­ping bags out on vol­ca­nic sand. A snow patch deli­vers some water, so we can turn dried food into some­thing like a hot meal and tea. I hope, the next cou­ple of fog­gy hours here in Eke­rold­da­len bring some rest. We’ll need it tomor­row.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the title “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2014-07-14 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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