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Yearly Archives: 2014 − News & Stories


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.

Pla­taberg

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.

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

Arc­tic sea­son 2014: pho­tos, blog

The arc­tic sea­son 2014 ist not over yet, but a good num­ber of pho­to gal­le­ries are alrea­dy online, and so is my arc­tic blog, of cour­se. The recent trips in Spits­ber­gen with SV Anti­gua and SY Arc­ti­ca II have both been ama­zing. Both yiel­ded a wealth of impres­si­ons and memo­ries, some of them cap­tu­red with the came­ra, and you are wel­co­me to join the­se trips now online.

More sto­ries from the icy road in my arc­tic blog (click here).

Wit­hin a few weeks, I will add sli­de­shows of the indi­vi­du­al trips on the respec­ti­ve sites, and the­re is still one more trip to come in Sep­tem­ber.

Enjoy some vir­tu­al tra­vel­ling in the Arc­tic!

Arc­ti­ca II in August with a visi­tor.

Arctica II with polar bear

Hiorthfjel­let

My ori­gi­nal plan was to be lazy. Spen­ding the day with the news­pa­per, friends, and han­ging out in Frue­ne – the best Café in town. And pret­ty much the only one. No mat­ter how beau­ti­ful and exci­ting it is to sail around Lon­gye­ar­by­en, it is also qui­te ener­gy-deman­ding. Espe­cial­ly on such a small boat, without a col­league who could occa­sio­nal­ly take over. Well, no com­p­lains, but a day to relax sound­ed like a gre­at thing.

But the time of the mid­ni­ght sun ends in such a grand way that doing not­hing was sim­ply not an opti­on. To start with, the camp­si­te pan­ora­ma pro­ject was num­ber one on the to-do-list. Direct­ly fol­lo­wed by Hiorthfjel­let. The pro­blem with this moun­tain is that you need a boat to get the­re in sum­mer, some­thing that is not always at hand, but avail­ab­le today. Ano­t­her good rea­son to do that today. Get­ting up to the pla­teau on top, viewing across Advent­fjord to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The other way around is an ever­y­day thing. 900 metres up over loo­se scree, yeeha! Two steps up, one down. But the view is worth every sin­gle step. You have Advent­fjord to your feet, from Advent­da­len in the east, Lon­gye­ar­by­en with the well-known moun­tains and gla­ciers around it, Pla­tå­berg and Hotell­ne­set with the air­port and camp­si­te and final­ly the wes­tern half of Isfjord.

And a good part of Nor­dens­kiöld Land is stret­ching far, far into most direc­tions. Count­less brown pla­teau-shaped moun­tains, rid­ges and peaks, small gla­ciers and val­leys. This is the part of Spits­ber­gen that I got to know first, at times when Edgeøya was a far dream, as easy to get to as the moon.

Visi­t­ing the old coal mine of Hior­th­hamn on the way back added a com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent, but com­pa­ra­b­ly inte­res­ting aspect to the excur­si­on. The mine is more than 600 metres high on a rather steep slo­pe. Not far from it, the­re was Ørne­redet, the eagle nest, whe­re 40-50 workers had accom­mo­da­ti­on, and they had to stay the­re during the polar night, as the steep slo­pe down was deemed too dan­ge­rous in the dark time. Darkness insi­de the moun­tain, darkness out­side.

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

Darkness is loo­m­ing just around the cor­ner here the­se days, too. Today will be the first sun­set this sum­mer. A day of four mon­ths is com­ing to an end.

Advent­fjord

Fri­day, 22nd August (still) – High­lights until the last minu­te. After it had been blowing qui­te a bit off the west coast, it was nice to be back in Isfjord whe­re the water was flat calm and the sun was shi­ning again. We met a wha­le brief­ly in Advent­fjord, just off the cam­ping site. And on the shore under Hiorthfjel­let, just oppo­si­te Lon­gye­ar­by­en, the­re was even ano­t­her polar bear wal­king around, would you belie­ve it? That doesn’t hap­pen every day. Hein­rich wasn’t too hap­py as he has got a hut in that area, one of the win­dows was dama­ged so the bear may have been insi­de and in that case, it might need more than just a litt­le bit of clea­ning to make it a cosy place again.

We finish the day and the trip with a nice last evening and a good meal on board. More than 1100 nau­ti­c­la miles around Spits­ber­gen are behind us now, with about 26 lan­dings in many pos­si­ble and some impos­si­ble pla­ces. Not to men­ti­on all the land­s­capes and the wild­life we have seen from the boat. The pho­tos will tell the sto­ry, soon the­re will be a gal­le­ry online tog­e­ther with the trip report.

e-a9m_Adventfjord_21Aug14_24

The­re is more to Spits­ber­gen than „just“ polar bears and wild land­s­capes, the­re are also good peop­le living here. See­ing some of them will be amongst my next tasks.

Green­peace-ship ‘Espe­r­an­za’ vio­la­ted new pilo­ta­ge regu­la­ti­ons on Spits­ber­gen

The Green­peace-ship ‘Espe­r­an­za’ which is cur­r­ent­ly sai­ling in the waters around Spits­ber­gen has repeated­ly vio­la­ted the new pilo­ta­ge regu­la­ti­ons, being step-by-step estab­lis­hed sin­ce July 2012.

The ‘Espe­r­an­za’ is pre­sent around Spits­ber­gen this sum­mer to call atten­ti­on to the impact of cli­ma­te chan­ge to the arc­tic and to pro­test against the expan­si­on of oil explo­ra­ti­on to the Bar­ents Sea. As a pro­mi­nent sup­por­ter for this cam­pai­gn amongst others the Bri­tish actress Emma Thomp­son was aboard.

In the end of July it was noti­ced that the ship vio­la­ted the new pilo­ta­ge regu­la­ti­ons on Spits­ber­gen for several times. For a round-trip which was accom­pa­nied by the actress Emma Thomp­son the­re­fo­re a pilot was taken aboard. In the Midd­le of August the cap­tain of the ‘Espe­r­an­za’ then again acted against the regu­la­ti­ons as he led the ship towards Lon­gye­ar­by­en without a pilot. As befo­re, the inci­dent was repor­ted to the Sys­sel­man­nen and this time the cap­tain had to pay a fine of 50.000 Kro­ner.

The Sys­sel­man­nen and the Nor­we­gi­an Kyst­verk reg­ret that it was just Green­peace who vio­la­ted a regu­la­ti­on which actual­ly is sup­por­ted by the orga­niz­a­ti­on. In the same spi­rit Green­peace expres­sed their reg­ret. Green­peace appre­cia­tes the estab­lish­ment of pilo­ta­ge regu­la­ti­ons on Spits­ber­gen and, envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in mind, gene­ral­ly sup­ports regu­la­ti­ons that con­tri­bu­te to safe­ty in the mari­ti­me traf­fic. In the inci­dents in the end of July Green­peace was not awa­re of the fact that their ship was alrea­dy affec­ted by the new regu­la­ti­ons, espe­cial­ly as they had an own ice-navi­ga­tor aboard sup­por­ting the cap­tain. In the recent inci­dent in August the cap­tain had, as he said, wai­ted 1.5 hours for the pilot who was delay­ed. After that he deci­ded to sail towards Lon­gye­ar­by­en without a pilot.

Com­pul­so­ry pilo­ta­ge gets step-by-step estab­lis­hed on Spits­ber­gen sin­ce the 1st of July 2012 (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news from July 2012). Cur­r­ent­ly, for the sea­son 2014, it affects ves­sels with a length of 70 meters or more and pas­sen­ger ves­sels with a length of 24 meters or more, except expe­di­ti­on crui­se ves­sels. In the sea­son 2015 the­re will no lon­ger be such excep­ti­ons and the regu­la­ti­ons will be the same as on the Nor­we­gi­an main­land.

The ‘Espe­r­an­za’,
cur­r­ent­ly sai­ling in the waters around Spits­ber­gen.
 
Copy­right:
Glen via Flickr,
CC BY 2.0

Esperanza

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten, Kyst­ver­ket

Gui­de breaks leg on Sar­ko­fa­gen

Not just in win­ter the gla­ciers and moun­tains sur­roun­ding Lon­gye­ar­by­en (some known for their crev­as­ses) pose dan­ger. Also in sum­mer it is very important to pay clo­se atten­ti­on; for examp­le, to the part­ly steep and rocky sub­sur­face tun­neled by melt water.

Just recent­ly when descen­ting (from) the Sar­ko­fa­gen (which is situa­ted at the west­side of the Lars­breen/Lars-Gla­cier), a 21 year old nor­we­gi­an gui­de bro­ke her leg. Becau­se the­re was no cell­p­ho­ne ser­vice avail­ab­le at the site of the acci­dent, mem­bers of the group had to hike back up the moun­tain to call for help by informing the Sys­sel­man. The hurt tour gui­de and her ent­i­re group of tou­rist from various nati­ons were then flown out to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, whe­re she got a cast at the local hos­pi­tal and was later trans­por­ted to Trom­sø.

Sakro­fa­gen (on the left hand side) view from Lars-Gla­cier

Larsbreen-mit-Sakrofagen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Again explo­si­ves have been found

As last year explo­si­ves of he Word War II have been found arround Lon­gye­ar­by­en this time on the moun­tain Pla­tå­ber­get. Due to the fin­ding traf­fic in the area is ban­ned. The gre­na­de could been deac­ti­va­ted.

Pla­tåf­jel­let

Platafjellet

Source: Sys­sel­mann

Eidem­buk­ta

Last night we sai­led down For­landsund, hea­ding for Prins Karls For­land, but the wind was so strong that the anchor didn’t real­ly hold, so we deci­ded to go for Eidem­buk­ta ins­tead, hoping for bet­ter shel­ter the­re. Which worked well. After all the­se miles and mane­ouvres, I went to sleep after 5 am. It may have to do with that if I am a bit tired now. Almost a bit sad, or melan­cho­lic. West Coast Blues. The trip is com­ing to an end, the­re is no way around it. Ever­y­bo­dy has grown into a tight group now, knowing each other, the rou­ti­nes are all working well, we could so easi­ly con­ti­nue for ano­t­her week or two. But zivi­li­sa­ti­on is not far any­mo­re. Dates, flights, busi­ness, fami­ly … are all deman­ding their rights.

But we are not the­re yet. First, we spend a pre­cious cou­p­le of hours on the west coast tun­dra again. After all the ice and cold of the far north, the rocky land­s­capes of the nor­thwest and the migh­ty gla­ciers of Krossfjord, you might almost feel at home here. This land­s­cape is not so har­sh, not so inhos­pi­ta­ble, almost invi­t­ing. Well, in com­pa­ri­son.

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

I have been in Eidem­buk­ta just a few weeks ago, in ear­ly June. It feels like ages ago! Back then, we had snow down to sea level. Almost the who­le, wide-open coas­tal tun­dra plain was white, whe­re autumn colours are stret­ching now bet­ween the sea and the moun­tains and gla­ciers. No trace of snow any­mo­re today. Back then, almost every snow-free tun­dra patch was occu­p­ied by geese, now the­re is just a group of fema­le com­mon eiders paddling in the bay, the stress of the bree­ding sea­son is alrea­dy histo­ry for them. The world has chan­ged incredi­b­ly quick­ly, wit­hin less than 7 weeks! The arc­tic sum­mer is com­ing and going so quick­ly.

Krossfjord

I don’t mind repea­ting this again: A day taken direct­ly from an arc­tic fai­ry tale. The sun remai­ned with us, and with this kind of wea­ther, Krossfjord is unbea­t­a­b­ly beau­ti­ful. Blue­green water, migh­ty gla­ciers, dark, wild moun­tains, green slo­pes. I know, I have alrea­dy writ­ten simi­lar sen­ten­ces simi­lar else­whe­re. I can’t help it, I am sim­ply not a gre­at wri­ter, I have never pre­ten­ded anything dif­fe­rent. But natu­re can ever­ything up here, and it’s that what counts.

The gla­cier hike today has best chan­ces to be very high on the list of the grea­test hikes this sum­mer. The pho­tos will tell it all, I hope, as soon as they are online in a cou­p­le of days from now.

To add icing on the cake, we were wel­co­med with a BBQ on the beach. How good can life be!

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

We could hap­pi­ly have cal­led it a gre­at day, but the­re is always some­thing exci­ting going on here as long as you can keep your eyes open. Ano­t­her fjord ano­t­her gla­cier, ano­t­her world. Per­fect mir­ror images on the water. A polar bear on the shore, with the sun from behind, sur­roun­ded by pie­ces of gla­cier ice shi­ning like dia­monds. An arc­tic won­der­land.

Dans­køya & The Seven Ice­bergs

A day taken direct­ly from an arc­tic fai­ry tale. Well, it was about time to get to see the sun again, and we got a lot of it today. Who would then mind the end­less rocks over which we stumb­led while hiking across Dans­køya, when you can enjoy this ama­zing view over the moun­tains and gla­ciers of nor­thwes­tern Spits­ber­gen at the same time? The dra­ma sto­ries from past times from Dans­køya can’t dimi­nish our plea­su­re, they just add some fla­vour.

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

Almost hard to grasp on such a day that the wha­lers had such a respect for that wild coast which the cal­led „The Seven Ice­bergs“, refer­ring to seven lar­ge gla­ciers, of cour­se. The coast is still just as wild, but the wea­ther is sim­ply lovely today and it seems to be a pure plea­su­re place, an arc­tic Rivie­ra. Ama­zing colours, dark green slo­pes near bird cliffs bet­ween shi­ning white gla­ciers with blue crev­as­ses, and all this under a blue sky. Pure plea­su­re, without any hardships. Extre­me­ly enjoya­ble.

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