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Home → September, 2014

Monthly Archives: September 2014 − Travelblog


We ente­red Isfjord just in time. Not much later, others were fee­ding the fishes on the same rou­te.

Some suc­cess on the quest for pho­to­gra­phing old stuff at well-known places in new per­spec­ti­ves. A ship on land, a rail­way track going nowhe­re. Silent sym­bols for the fruit­less efforts of man to ste­al nature’s tre­asu­res in the arc­tic. Why not just lea­ve it?

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

Admit­ted­ly, we still wan­ted to, well, not to ste­al a tre­asu­re, but to take some lon­ged-after memo­ries home with us. Today’s peaceful way to make use of arc­tic natu­re tre­asu­res. We were lucky, and it work­ed. A final high­light of a trip that was quite dif­fe­rent from what I had in my head befo­re we set off. The wea­ther ruled sever­ely for quite some time. But loo­king back, in the sun­ny light of the days that were to fol­low, it all came tog­e­ther to shape a com­ple­te impres­si­on of the late sum­mer arc­tic. A hap­py Anti­gua ente­red Advent­fjor­den in the evening.

Van Mijenfjord

Some­ti­mes, the back of a goo­se is enough for hig­hest arc­tic plea­su­res. Cer­tain­ly if this goo­se back is Gåski­len, the wes­tern out­lier of Mid­ter­hu­ken, this won­derful moun­tain bet­ween Van Mijenfjord and Van Keu­len­fjord, 300 met­res high, with ama­zing views over Bell­sund.

A gla­cier in the sun for desert, and then ano­ther back, may­be of a dino­saur, it is big, any­way. Eight kilo­me­t­res of hard lime­s­tone, a few hundred met­res wide only, with frut­ti di mare as old as the hills. Some­ti­mes, even 50 met­res are enough for gre­at views.

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

Then it was alre­a­dy time to cele­bra­te a trip that tur­ned out to be a gre­at one, despi­te a tough start, wea­ther-wise. Incre­di­ble how time is fly­ing. But the­re is still a day to come.

Van Keu­len­fjord, Recher­chefjord

Did it ever snow during this trip? You have to think hard to remem­ber how poor the wea­ther had been just days ago. It is so beau­tifu­ly wit­hout even the tiniest fault that it is hard to ima­gi­ne wind and snow.

Landings wit­hout dif­fi­cul­ties or sur­pri­ses make life easy. Fos­sils from old chap­ters of Earth histo­ry, series of uplifted bea­ches from geo­lo­gi­cal­ly recent times, in com­pa­ri­son, high­ligh­ted by fresh snow. Melt­wa­ter streams from holo­ce­ne gla­ciers fal­ling down palaeo­zoic lime­s­tone lay­ers, free­zing to form ice colum­ns. Rivers get­ting into win­ter mood.

A litt­le fjord crui­se in Van Keu­len­fjord gives us scenic beau­ty, but not the wild­life sightin­gs we had secret­ly been hoping for. We get one of the­se during a short walk to a gla­cier lagoon later, making this walk even shorter, while ano­ther group is working its way up steep, snow cover­ed slo­pes. Pan­ora­ma view over fjords, val­leys and gla­ciers. The hike against the gra­di­ent, snow and time was worth every calo­ry burnt: the sun is just a few degrees abo­ve the hori­zon, still cas­ting some pink light over the arc­tic land. The days of the mid­night sun are defi­ni­te­ly over. Now you have to keep an eye on the wrist watch and keep things in good nor­mal sche­du­les.

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

When the mid­night sun turns into dark­ness, the nor­t­hern lights start to paint their mys­te­rious colours into the dark night sky. It was defi­ni­te­ly worth stay­ing at anchor during this clear night. Arc­tic light magic abo­ve the sou­thern hori­zon.


As soon as someone pres­ses the fair­wea­ther but­ton, the world beco­mes a dif­fe­rent one. Blue sky and sun. The low sep­tem­ber sun that we had been lon­ging for, now it is sud­den­ly here and casts an ama­zing light over the who­le sce­n­ery, the who­le day long, not just for a few minu­tes befo­re sun­set as else­whe­re. Moun­ta­ins, gla­ciers, ice­bergs, ever­y­thing is sud­den­ly shi­ning, an almost other­world­ly beau­ty.

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


The arc­tic isn’t a the­me park, it is still wild, rough, the real thing. Anyo­ne who didn’t belie­ve it was con­vin­ced today. See­mingly end­less strong winds and snow show­ers, taking all the views, tur­ning any walk out on the icy deck into a litt­le expe­di­ti­on. Even Kross­fjord, reason­ab­ly well shel­te­red against wes­ter­ly winds, did not tole­ra­te a landing any­mo­re today. An after­noon at anchor, well shel­te­red from the hea­vy wes­ter­ly seas, the winds how­ling through the rig­ging, it feels almost like a win­tering. Now, if the storm never cea­ses…?

But it did. This Octo­ber wea­ther came 4 weeks too ear­ly, but it did not last fore­ver. Blom­strand­hal­vøya pro­vi­ded us with cold feed, a fro­zen water­fall, wind and snow, some lonely reinde­er, and of cour­se famous Ny Lon­don in drif­ting snow, the old hou­ses cover­ed with crusts of ice and snow, a uni­que view!

Kong­s­breen is pro­du­cing Spitsbergen’s bluest ice­bergs, at least today. Do you know this famous pho­to of a very blue, very wea­the­red ice­berg in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, with pen­gu­ins? Same colour, just wit­hout pen­gu­ins.

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

In the late after­noon, the hea­vy seas at the pier of Ny Åle­sund had cal­med down enough to let us go along­side the­re. So we could help the Kongsfjord­bu­tik­ken to a late sea­son tur­no­ver peak and then walk in Amundsen’s foot­s­teps. Ny Åle­sund in win­ter mood.


(Tues­day-Thurs­day, 16th-18th Sep­tem­ber, 2014) – Once we had final­ly left Advent­fjord on Tues­day, the sun bro­ke through the clouds – one of the­se ama­zing Sep­tem­ber-moments. How many times did we sail past Fugefjel­let, and every time it is a view not to be missed, but this time it was some­thing spe­cial, inde­ed.

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

Sin­ce then, the wea­ther has also been some­thing spe­cial. It has been espe­ci­al­ly shit­ty. Two lows pas­sing one after ano­ther, less than a day bet­ween them (on Mon­day), well, this is not exact­ly what we had been hoping for. But we have mana­ged seve­ral landings up north in Kross­fjord, and now we are hiding in Kongsfjord, wai­ting for bet­ter times. And they will come, that’s for sure.


A visit to Pyra­mi­den, the old Rus­si­an mining sett­le­ment, is always some­thing spe­cial. Aban­do­ned in 1998, but the pia­no is still ok to play. Well, kind of… the ball is still in the field, wai­ting to be kicked. The old hou­ses are the best thing to do at the time being, bet­ter to be insi­de than out­side in this kind of wea­ther.

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

Let’s go north. We expect quite a bit of wind the days to come. So we hope we can reach Kongsfjord or Kross­fjord befo­re it is get­ting real­ly win­dy. The autumn does not show its­elf from its real­ly gol­den side the­se days. Fin­gers crossed for gre­at sun­sets and nor­t­hern lights in some days!

Gru­vef­jel­let & Advent­da­len

(13th-15th Sep­tem­ber 2014) – Ear­ly win­ter rather than gol­den autumn – also impres­si­ve in a way, when arc­tic natu­re is show­ing its forces with cold and strong winds. And when it is rai­ning on top of it all, then it is the per­fect day to visit the muse­ums in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, you can always learn a lot in both of them. It is espe­ci­al­ly the Air­ship­mu­se­um that is always ama­zing. Incre­di­ble how much Ste­fa­no Poli and Ingunn Løy­ning have coll­ec­ted over the years, all their own initia­ti­ve. You should have a rough over­view of the expe­di­ti­ons of Andrée and Well­man, Amund­sen and Nobi­le befo­re visi­ting, other­wi­se the wealth of details may be con­fu­sing. But then it is a place whe­re you can return count­less times to learn and to be ama­zed.

Loo­king back and con­side­ring the rough wea­ther, I am almost sur­pri­sed mys­elf how much we have done in the­se 4 days around Lon­gye­ar­by­en also. After the first, exten­si­ve tour over the snow-cover­ed Pla­tå­ber­get on Thurs­day, we went up Gru­vef­jel­let on Fri­day, enjoy­ing views over the wide pla­teaux around Lon­gye­ar­by­en and down the val­ley, fol­lo­wed by a gla­cier walk across Lars­breen and a stee­pish des­cent down its morai­ne just befo­re the whir­ling snow tur­ned all views white and grey.

Mean­while, the fos­sil coll­ec­tors were quite suc­cessful on the neigh­bou­ring morai­ne of Lon­gye­ar­breen.

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

Suc­cess also on Sun­day in End­a­len on the quest for the Dwarf birch. We haven’t seen this tree (yes, it counts as a tree, even if it does not look like it) on our trips befo­re, as we tra­vel most­ly on ships and they don’t grow near the shore. We came just in time for some views over Advent­da­len from the height of mine 7 befo­re the snow drift sett­led in, and some har­dy hikers even went into Bol­terd­a­len in spi­te of wind and snow.

Now, the sky is blue again and it is time to board Anti­gua in the after­noon.


Short­ly we will con­ti­nue with our tra­vel blog. The next tour starts on 15 Sep­tem­ber at which time we will publish dai­ly tra­vel logs again, that is, if the satel­li­te pho­ne plays along regar­ding trans­mis­si­on of text and pic­tures. For now, Rolf has sent a us a pic­tu­re gal­lery of a pla­teau-shaped moun­tain (pla­tå­berg). Web­mas­ter Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com

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


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