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Monthly Archives: September 2014 − News


Okto­ber­fest in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The famous Okto­ber­fest in Munich, said to be the world’s lar­gest folk fes­ti­val, has its litt­le bro­ther in Spits­ber­gen: On Thurs­day (25th Sep­tem­ber), the local Okto­ber­fest in Lon­gye­ar­by­en was ope­ned with a litt­le pro­ces­si­on. The hard nights of drin­king over­pri­ced beer (but more than 120 kinds of it!) in an over­crow­ded tent, live music and pre­sen­ta­ti­ons about beer were to fol­low until Satur­day, inlcu­ding the choir of the Nor­we­gi­an mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske and the “Schnaps­ka­pel­le”, a gathe­ring of local musi­cal talents exclu­si­ve­ly brought tog­e­ther for the occa­si­on.

The pre­sent aut­hor does not know any more about it, as he pre­fer­red the view over some silent val­leys in gor­ge­ous late Sep­tem­ber light at the time in ques­ti­ons.

The Lon­gye­ar­by­en Okto­ber­fest has been a regu­lar event now for several years and it is safe to assu­me that you can join next year if you want to.

The pro­ces­si­on to open the Okto­ber­fest in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Oktoberfest Longyearbyen

Polar bear with Sval­bard­bu­tik­ken plastic bag

This snapshot is defi­ni­te­ly amongst this summer’s bet­ter ones: A polar bear was stal­king a camp of stu­dents in Bill­efjord for a while last week, until it was deci­ded to evacua­te the camp and let the bear do wha­te­ver it wan­ted to. On that occa­si­on, Eli­da Lang­stein mana­ged to get this pho­to of the polar bear lea­ving a tent with a Sval­bard­bu­tik­ken plastic bag in his mouth.

It is not known what exact­ly was insi­de the bag.

Polar bear with Sval­bard­bu­tik­ken plastic bag in a camp in Bill­efjord. Pho­to: Eli­da Lang­stein.

Polar bear with Svalbardbutikken bag, Billefjord

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Ship of Fran­k­lin-expe­di­ti­on found in Nor­thwest Pas­sa­ge

This is the his­to­ri­cal dis­co­very of the year in the Arc­tic – at least: The Cana­di­an government has announ­ced to have found the wreck of one of the two ships of John Franklin’s expe­di­ti­on.

John Fran­k­lin was out to find the Nor­thwest Pas­sa­ge with 2 ships, HMS Ere­bus and HMS Ter­ror, and 129 men, sai­ling into the pas­sa­ge in 1845. Both ships and all men disap­peared. Many expe­di­ti­ons were sent out to res­cue Fran­k­lin and his men or to find out what had hap­pen­ed. This was a boost for geo­gra­phi­cal explo­ra­ti­on in the Cana­di­an arc­tic, but the fate of Franklin’s expe­di­ti­on was never ful­ly resol­ved. After years, the first traces were found; it beca­me clear that the men had left the ships, try­ing to reach safe­ty, a hopeless effort con­si­de­ring the vast distan­ces and the har­sh cli­ma­te. The­re were signs of can­ni­ba­lism, but most must have died of star­va­ti­on, cold and scur­vy. Lead poi­so­ning may have added to an over­all health decli­ne. Fran­k­lin had alrea­dy died befo­re the ships were deser­ted.

The 2 ships had been equip­ped with ever­ything one could think of at that time, it was one of the lar­gest arc­tic expe­di­ti­ons ever and its loss was a trau­ma for the Bri­tish Roy­al Navy. The dis­co­very of one of the 2 ships 169 years later is a sen­sa­ti­on. It is so far unknown if it is the wreck of the HMS Ere­bus or the HMS Ter­ror.

The Cana­di­an government has put the search for Franklin’s ships on the agen­da some years ago.

Franklin’s ships HMS Ere­bus and HMS Ter­ror in the Nor­thwest Pas­sa­ge (source: Wiki­me­dia Com­mons).

Franklins Schiffe: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

Source: Spie­gel Online

Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2015

The new Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2015 by Rolf Stan­ge is now here, fresh from the prin­ter and it can be orde­red from now on. 12 impres­si­ons from Spits­ber­gen: around the island and through the sea­sons, encoun­ters with wild­life, sce­ne­ry, light and flowers from the polar night to the mid­ni­ght sun.

As befo­re, the Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2015 is avail­ab­le in the han­dy A5 for­mat and lar­ge in A3. Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on, images and orde­ring.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping: sea­son & info, vir­tu­al tour

Lon­gye­ar­by­en is not just the che­a­pest accom­mo­da­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but also one of the most popu­lar pla­ces to stay, as you are in the midd­le of natu­re the­re: in good wea­ther, the view across Isfjord is gre­at. Rein­de­er, polar foxes and a ran­ge of dif­fe­rent birds are regu­lar guests, and if you are lucky, you can even see belugas near the shore, that hap­pens several times every sum­mer.

On a nice day in August, I shot a pan­ora­ma tour which is now online, so you can walk across Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping now on the inter­net. The­re is also a pan­ora­ma of the camp­si­te taken in the polar night, when it is obvious­ly clo­sed, but nevertheless a very inte­res­ting place to visit …

It has been a good sum­mer with a lot of fine wea­ther, and Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping has done very well with about 2800 guest nights. As an expe­ri­ence, it is worthwhile to men­ti­on that you need to bring your own slee­ping bag, insu­la­ti­on blan­ket and tent if you want to stay the­re. Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping has limi­ted amounts of ren­tal equip­ment, but the capa­ci­ty may be in full use in peak sea­son. When guests come, as hap­pen­ed several times, without anything and without a reser­va­ti­on for ren­tal equip­ment (or a “reser­va­ti­on” made very short­ly befo­re arri­val), then bad luck may strike and not­hing is avail­ab­le, which trans­la­tes as: you don’t have a place to sleep. Not gre­at. So: just bring your own stuff or get in touch with Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping well in advan­ce to make sure they have got what you need. And then: have a good time the­re 🙂

Screen­shot of the new vir­tu­al tour of Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping, high on the list of Longyearbyen’s most popu­lar pla­ces to stay.

Longyearbyen Campingplatz virtuelle Tour

Polar bear roa­ming near Lon­gye­ar­by­en

A polar bear has been obser­ved roa­ming around near Lon­gye­ar­by­en for more than a week. Sin­ce 21st August, the bear has been seen in Hior­th­hamn, on the north side of Advent­fjord, a few kilo­me­tres away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, whe­re more than 2000 peop­le live.

The­re is a num­ber of wee­kend huts in Hior­th­hamn, and some of them have suf­fe­red dama­ge by the polar bear, which is always loo­king for food, bes­i­des gene­ral­ly being a curious ani­mal any­way. It has sin­ce been seen in side val­leys (Mälarda­len, Hanas­kog­da­len), and most recent­ly in Advent­da­len near Jans­son­h­au­gen, whe­re it seems to have found a dead rein­de­er, secu­ring food for some days. It is, howe­ver, not 100 per­cent cer­tain that it is real­ly one and the same polar bar.

The­re is signi­fi­cant traf­fic in all the­se are­as: tou­rists are on tour the­re, and so are stu­dents and locals in their free time. Addi­tio­nal­ly, it is rein­de­er hun­ting sea­son.

Ever­y­bo­dy moving around on his own is remin­ded that poten­ti­al­ly aggres­si­ve polar bears have to be expec­ted any­whe­re and at any time out­side the popu­la­ted sett­le­ments. A sui­ta­ble, hea­vy calibre wea­pon is necessa­ry for tours even clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Addi­tio­nal­ly, a deter­rent such as a signal pis­tol with spe­cial noi­se-making ammu­ni­ti­on to sca­re polar bears away does not only make a lot of sen­se, to sol­ve dan­ge­rous situa­tions without doing harm to a bear, but it is also legal­ly bin­ding now to have a deter­rent. Pep­per spray is, howe­ver, not recom­men­ded by the aut­ho­ri­ties in Spits­ber­gen, alt­hough it can make an important con­tri­bu­ti­on if used, for examp­le, from the rela­ti­ve safe­ty of a hut to get rid of a very curious or even aggres­si­ve bear without doing harm to it. It must, howe­ver, not be reli­ed on as the only means of “safe­ty”.

The polar bear near Lon­gye­ar­by­en has, so far, not been aggres­si­ve. Gene­ral­ly spea­king, polar bears are usual­ly not aggres­si­ve towards man, but the­re are excep­ti­ons to the role, such as a very hungry bear. Also in Pyra­mi­den, a Rus­si­an sett­le­ment lar­ge­ly deser­ted sin­ce 1998, polar bears have been seen several times during the sum­mer, also in cen­tral parts.

This polar bear has been roa­ming for more than a week near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Here at a wee­kend hut in Hior­th­hamn on the other side of the fjord.

Polar bear in Hiorthhamn, near Longyearbyen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

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