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Ryke Yseøyane

Some places have got fascinating names, they keep just sounding in my mind, vibrating, generating a drawing power almost like a magnet. Maybe it helps to spend evenings with maps instead of books sometimes, to get a perspective on the remoteness of some of these places. Or to hike around in Spitsbergen. It takes four days on foot from Longyearbyen to the east coast. So that is the end of the world. From this end of the world, you can see Edgeøya on the horizon. Sitting there, on a moraine hill on the east coast, with tired legs, looking across Storfjord to Edgeøya, makes you dream of getting there one day. You know it will probably never be in reach, but who knows. Then, it means something different to you, it is something very special to get there one day, compared to just being there suddenly, another place on a cruise where you are suddenly to go and see some animals, without ever having heard the name of the place before, without remembering it beyond the evening of the same day. Anyway … I am drifting away. So, imagine the east coast is the end of your world at some stage, and from there, you can see Edgeøya. And you know, there are still some small, very lonely islands behind it. Ryke Yseøyane, the Ryke Yse Islands.

In short words, they are far away from everything.

Dark, bleak basalt islands, rough and wild. And as mentioned, this name: Ryke Yse! Nobody could think of a name like that. Ryke Yse was probably a Dutch whaling captain, 17th century. Thank God his name was not, say, Fred Clever. I don’t think I would be interested in going to the Fred Clever Islands. But so … wild place. Only two dared to winter there. Only one survived. A rough landscape. Edgy dolerite rock, falling apart into sharp blocks, covered with lichens, steep cliffs, a home for Black guillemots.

And we even made it on 2 out of these 3 little islands!

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

Time to get on, then. Many kilometres of glacier front on our port side during the later afternoon. A wall of marble, all shades of blue and grey you can think of, sea, ice, sky. Hard to believe this is the same island that has such a colourful, friendly tundra on the other side. But well, it is beyond the end of the world. What do you expect.

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last modification: 2014-08-15 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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