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Daily Archives: 15. August 2014 − News & Stories

Southwestern Nordaustland

(Thursday and Friday, 14th and 15th August 2014) – How often do we see glaciers from the boat or from the tundra? Every day. How often do we view down from glaciers to fjord and coast? Exactly.

This trip was meant to be an opportunity to do things that you don’t normally do on ship-based trips here. Even more so than otherwise on the trips that I do. One of the things that you would not normally get to do on a Spitsbergen cruise is a glacier hike. There is this nice little glacier in Augustabukta, they called it Mariebreen in 1868. It is actually part of the ice cap Vegafonna, which again is connected to Austfonna, more than 8400 square kilometres large and Europe’s largest ice cap. Dive into this weird icy world of glaciers for a few hours. Meandering meltwater rivers with blue water, shining white ice under a heavy grey sky that is merging seemlessly into the ice cap on the horizon. A step out of the world of leaving things. There is nothing alive here. Ice and water, some stones, that’s it.

Crossing something has always something fascinating about it. It does not have to be an inland ice of continental scale. A peninsula can be enough. You are dropped off and you see your boat sailing away. That makes you feel a bit like Nansen, who was dropped off at the East Greenland coast in 1888. His choice was simple: reach the west coast of die. The rest is history.

Of course, it isn’t quite like that in the 21st century anymore. In case of any unexpected real difficulties, you grab the radio or the sat phone and ask the boat to return. But still, it is an exciting thing.

21 kilometres of tundra and polar desert, ridges of basalt rocks and fossils older than the hills, frost patterned ground and meltwater rivers. A day long enough to really get lost in this amazing country, mentally, I mean. Listening to the water running in rivers and to the wind (there was more than enough of the latter, to be honest. It was freezing old at times.

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

At the end of the hike, on the shore of Palanderbukta, there was an old trapper hut, where the wind was blowing through holes that were doors and windows many years ago. Weird story. The two trappers who built the hut probably managed to blow themselves up in January 1934. One of them was hit while he was in for serious business in the outhouse. Not a nice place to die. He was found there months later, still sitting, frozen solid. Weird story. They never found out in details what had really happened.

But for us, the day had a very happy end when we came back to the boat and salmon was almost ready 🙂


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