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Yearly Archives: 2014 − News & Stories


The night had been a bit rougher than expec­ted, but a pie­ce of cake after my trai­ning bet­ween Ice­land and Jan May­en! Pos­si­ble, howe­ver, that some on board may not agree with me on this 😉 but this was all quick­ly for­got­ten after some good hiking over the hills of Blom­strand­hal­vøya, with grand views over the gla­ciers in Kongsfjord. Polar fox, Long-tail­ed skua and their friends, they were all at home.

Ny Åle­sund has been a con­struc­tion site more than anything else for years and does cur­r­ent­ly not have the charme it used to have in the past. A shor­ter stop only. But nice to see my books back in the shop, after years whe­re the manage­ment thought books are no good. (Is this so? Are shot glas­ses and key han­gers pre­fer­red abo­ve good books?)

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

The evening enter­tain­ment was gre­at: the Ny Åle­sund water ski ama­teur club in full action. With a bit of tri­al and error on the way to suc­cess 🙂

Arri­val – Lon­gye­ar­by­en

(14th-16th July 2014) – The flight over sou­thern Spits­ber­gen was just gre­at. An almost cloud-free view over moun­tains, gla­ciers and fjords almost all the way from South Cape to Lon­gye­ar­by­en!

After a day in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, inclu­ding a litt­le tour up to Pla­tå­berg next to the sett­le­ment, we are star­ting today: Anti­gua is sai­ling under blue ski­es and a bright sun out of Advent­fjord and into Isfjord. 2 ½ weeks around Spits­ber­gen ahead of us!

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

Rein­de­er sur­vey on Spits­ber­gen: local popu­la­ti­on kept gro­wing

The Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te finis­hed its annu­al sur­vey of the local rein­de­er popu­la­ti­on in Advent­da­len and the results tur­ned out to be qui­te sur­pri­sing for the sci­en­tists: Again the num­ber of ani­mals incre­a­sed to a new all-time high.

In June sci­en­tists of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te count the rein­de­ers in Advent­da­len and the sur­roun­ding side val­leys. This year they coun­ted clo­se to 1500 indi­vi­du­als, almost 300 more than last year, which alrea­dy mar­ked an all-time high. Ano­t­her sur­vey, arran­ged by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Trom­sø, con­fir­med the­se results. Due to the last year´s rela­tively high num­ber of old indi­vi­du­als, an incre­a­se was not expec­ted this year. But the sci­en­tists coun­ted a sur­pri­sin­gly high num­ber of cal­ves, more than 300, and on the other hand the num­ber of dead bodies they found was low. Only 20 cada­vers were found, in bad years the­re were bet­ween 100 and 200.

The rea­son for the repeated incre­a­se in popu­la­ti­on can be seen in con­ve­ni­ent cli­ma­tic con­di­ti­ons, pro­vi­ding bet­ter gra­zing oppor­tu­nities to the ani­mals. High tem­pe­ra­tures in last year´s sum­mer did alrea­dy lead to exten­ded vege­ta­ti­on growth so that the rein­de­ers were well pre­pa­red for the cold sea­son. As then the last win­ter was rela­tively mild, food might have been easi­ly acces­si­ble. Nor­mal­ly mild win­ters with occa­sio­nal rain-peri­ods lead to icing and sealing of the ground, which makes gra­zing more dif­fi­cult. In the last win­ter the­re were rain-peri­ods but obvious­ly this nega­ti­ve effect was mis­sing. Par­ti­cu­lar­ly at the steep slo­pes of the val­leys the rain might have expo­sed the vege­ta­ti­on com­ple­te­ly.

Sin­ce the begin­ning of the rein­de­er sur­vey in Advent­da­len in 1979 the­re were always natu­ral varia­ti­ons regis­tered. An incre­a­se in popu­la­ti­on can lead to over­gra­zing in the next year, an effect that would be acce­le­ra­ted under unfa­vor­able cli­ma­tic con­di­ti­ons. After a strong popu­la­ti­on growth in the last two years the sci­en­tists the­re­fo­re expect a stron­ger decli­ne next win­ter.

Rein­de­ers in Advent­da­len


Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten


Half a day of real zivi­li­sa­ti­on. Geo­ther­mal­ly hea­ted water in public swim­ming pools, and yes, I did go to see the final. Tog­e­ther with half of Reykja­vik and, as it felt like, about 2000 Ger­man tou­rists. Big open air screen. The atmo­s­phe­re was just gre­at – espe­cial­ly when the screen tur­ned black for some moments 🙂

Back to Ice­land

(10th – 12th July 2014) − The cros­sing back to Ice­land star­ted in a very enjoya­ble way! The north Atlan­tic pre­sen­ted its­elf almost as calm as a lake for the first day, and the Auro­ra sud­den­ly was a very plea­sant place to be, also at open sea. Both the salong insi­de and the cock­pit out­side were crow­ded with peop­le who were enjoy­ing life pret­ty much. I could even offer my litt­le Jan May­en pre­sen­ta­ti­on, alrea­dy enri­ched with some new pho­tos. More than 10 days later than plan­ned, but still not a bad thing.

Of cour­se, this could not last fore­ver. At least it hap­pen­ed to be a good sai­ling wind, so we could cover part of the distance to Ice­land under sail. An expe­ri­ence that not ever­y­bo­dy was able to appre­cia­te ful­ly, and soon Auro­ra was an almost empty boat again, except the bunks were ever­y­bo­dy was lying and wai­t­ing for bet­ter times.

The­se came Satur­day after­noon. Harold and Gud­jon had put ever­ything on one card and boo­ked their flights out of Isaf­jör­dur alrea­dy tonight. And it worked almost to the minu­te, becau­se Sig­gi drop­ped the two off in the first har­bour on the way into the fjord, so they could take the fast trip by car from the­re. No risk, no fun!

We others great­ly enjoy­ed solid ground again in Isaf­jör­dur and all the advan­ta­ges and plea­su­res that come with it. From here on, ever­y­bo­dy went his ways. All the best to you fel­low expe­di­tio­ners, see you again, some­whe­re, some­time! And gre­at thanks again to Sig­gi and Gud­jon!


Group pho­to (Down­load lar­ge image file)

For me, it’s up to Spits­ber­gen now. Which is not always pure well­ness eit­her. But in com­pa­ri­son to Jan May­en, it almost feels like it … shel­te­red fjords, a ship that is very com­for­ta­ble in com­pa­ri­son, gre­at hikes even if you do less than 20 km, and all the­se land­s­capes bet­ween Sør­kapp and Sjuøya­ne … I am com­ing! 🙂

Kval­ross­lø­pet & Olon­kin­by­en

Admit­ted­ly, I star­ted the day a bit later than usu­al. The pro­gram­me for today see­med set and rela­xed, with a visit to the sta­ti­on final­ly set for the after­noon. That’s what I thought, at least.

Then, things hap­pen­ed far too quick­ly for a slow morning like this. As it tur­ned out, we had been offe­red the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do the „Kval­ross­lø­pet“, the tra­di­tio­nal run from Kval­ross­buk­ta to the sta­ti­on. Nine kilo­me­tres, to be com­ple­ted in 60-80 minu­tes, depen­ding on sex and age, to beco­me a diplo­mi­zed wal­rus-run­ner. Pie­ce of cake! Who would care about the 70 kilo­me­tres final­ly com­ple­ted a mere 12 hours ago ..?

Admit­ted­ly, the last days were not making the feet ligh­ter as the run was star­ted at 1200 hours. Exact­ly 50 % of us had signed up. As expec­ted, Harold quick­ly took the lead and did hard­ly touch the ground befo­re he reached the goal at an impres­si­ve just under 45 minu­tes. Ever­y­bo­dy else fol­lo­wed in due time, well wit­hin the frame­work accord­ing to regu­la­ti­ons, so we could all later recei­ve our diplo­ma from the hands of the „høv­din­gen“ (chief), as the sta­ti­on com­man­der is infor­mal­ly cal­led. Not too bad, con­si­de­ring the many kilo­me­tres of the pre­vious days as well as today’s gent­le wind, the slo­pes and the fog. And best of it, we were offi­cial­ly invi­ted to take a sho­wer after­wards!

The­re was still some time left until the offi­cial sta­ti­on visit at 4 p.m., so we made a litt­le walk to Kapp Traill south of the sta­ti­on. Litt­le tracks led bet­ween lava sculp­tu­red over­grown with lichens and mos­ses, a tru­ly haun­ted land­s­cape. Rocky pen­in­su­la were sti­cking out into the sea, and count­less Litt­le auks were laug­hing in the slo­pes high up in the fog. Qui­te some of the essence of Jan May­en was con­cen­tra­ted in this place.

At 1600 hours, we were wel­co­med by Roy, the friend­ly sta­ti­on com­man­der. A litt­le speech was fol­lo­wed by the usu­al pro­ce­du­re of a sta­ti­on visit. We made hap­pi­ly use of the chan­ce to spend some money on sou­ve­nirs and enjoy­ed the lar­ge and cosy salon, very Nor­we­gi­an, on this island which was so unco­sy other­wi­se. Ano­t­her high­light was the very kind offer by Roy to per­so­nal­ly give us a ride back to Kval­ross­buk­ta – takk skal du ha!

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

The rest of the day? Just had to be done. Squee­ze stuff into bags. Pre­fer­a­b­ly water­tight, the rest didn’t mat­ter. Spend some time with hip waders in the surf to get ever­ything on board. Try to give all the wet stuff some air, or even let it dry during the days to come. Some good food. And then, Jan May­en slid past us. Some last warm evening light on red ash cliffs and bizar­re lava flowers, cove­r­ed with green mos­ses, and then the last cra­ters disap­peard so quick­ly in the fog behind us that nobo­dy could be sure the island real­ly exists.

The way back

Some of us deci­ded after com­ing back down from Bee­ren­berg to return to Kval­ross­buk­ta the very same evening. As far as I was con­cer­ned, I was not keen on ano­t­her 18 km for today and the­re is so much to see on the way that I felt some rest would be more than appro­pria­te first.

Of cour­se, the wind was picking up as soon as we were lying in our slee­ping bags on the black sand, which found its way any­whe­re. Tho­se who are respon­si­ble that we may not set up a pro­per camp out­side from Kval­ross­buk­ta should be hap­py they were not around tonight. Nevertheless, for me it was the best sleep sin­ce we had left Ice­land. I guess I was just tired enough.

After some hours bre­ak­fast and a bre­ak­fast of some kind of green con­cre­te, based on pies, the four remai­ning ones of us squee­zed ever­ything into the ruck­sacks and went off. A short detour up a litt­le cra­ter pro­vi­ded some very nice views of fresh­ly appearing vol­ca­nic land­s­capes, which must have been acti­ve later than ca. 1820 (Scoresby’s visit).

Most of us did not have the right com­bi­na­ti­on of ener­gy and moti­va­ti­on left to make any unavo­ida­ble detours, so it was a very small group that first went to Elds­te Met­ten. Remains of Jan Mayen’s oldest wea­ther sta­ti­on, from the days when the island was still no man’s land. Bar­ren rocks and wild surf on a black sand beach under a blue sky.

A second excur­si­on took us into Jøs­sing­da­len and the nort­hern lagoon, whe­re meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal sta­ti­on and gar­ri­son were sta­tio­ned during and after the Second World War. Cer­tain­ly one of the more sce­nic pla­ces of the island, one could easi­ly spend more time the­re, hike to the water­fall in Desem­ber­da­len and up onto one of the many hills … so many beau­ti­ful litt­le pla­ces, so many his­to­ri­cal sites.

The local air for­ce in shape of a Gre­at skua atta­cked us in Wilc­z­ek­da­len to defend a nest. In Maria Musch­buk­ta, we saw the remains of the Aus­tri­an sta­ti­on from 1882-83 with the gra­ve of the sailor Vis­co­vich-Stur­la. All the­se old sto­ries.

Then the curtain clo­sed. But the timing could hard­ly have been bet­ter. We had just packed the came­ras away, when the wind came up and the clouds down. Many good memo­ries from times when only the wea­ther kept us from lan­ding whe­re­ver we wan­ted, but not the law. The pho­to archi­ve is now fil­led with many images far bet­ter than what I had from befo­re.

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

We could well have done without the remai­ning bit. A bus would have been qui­te nice. But the­re was no bus, all we had were our feet and still qui­te a few kilo­me­tres along that dus­ty road. The ruck­sacks were get­ting noti­ce­ab­ly hea­vier and the feet made them­sel­ves felt qui­te easi­ly, but in the end we reached the camp in Kval­ross­buk­ta. How good it felt to drop the ruck­sacks final­ly after 32 kilo­me­tres! And the­re was inde­ed still some lamb stew left … life can be good on Jan May­en!


So today is the day. I guess that all of us are qui­te exci­ted. I am cer­tain­ly loo­king for­ward to the pro­spect of get­ting up Bee­ren­berg, but I can’t deny that I have a lot of respect for this tour. The long hike yes­ter­day and the limi­ted rest in the bivac add up to it.

Here, in Ekerold­da­len, the­re is the last chan­ce to turn around indi­vi­du­al­ly. From now on it is all of us or no one. Just befo­re we start, we make this clear again, and then we fol­low the GPS up into the fog. Rocks and mos­ses, stone fiel­ds and snow patches.

After 2 hours, the fog is clea­ring. Wide moss fiel­ds around us, and the peak of Bee­ren­berg ahead! Cer­tain­ly a majes­tic view. Hard to belie­ve it is still several kilo­me­tres and more than 1700 metres of alti­tu­de to the top, it seems so near. But it isn’t.

A litt­le dripp­le of meltwa­ter is the last chan­ce to re-fill the bot­t­les. Water is important now, as we start to hike across the gent­ly slo­ping snow fiel­ds towards the top.

The sky is now beau­ti­ful­ly clear, the gla­cier-cove­r­ed cra­ter shi­ning white with a deep-blue back­ground. Just grand! A huge, impres­si­ve land­s­cape, seen by few from such a clo­se distance.

Kilo­met­re is fol­lowing upon kilo­met­re. Gud­jon, who is gui­ding groups in simi­lar ter­rain in Ice­land, is get­ting the rope out. A short intro­duc­tion – not ever­y­bo­dy has been on a gla­cier befo­re – and then we con­ti­nue as a rope team. Soon we see the first, small cracks, which are then get­ting wider, tur­ning into crev­as­sed ter­rain. Direct­ly next to us, Sør­breen is flowing down as a more hea­vi­ly crev­as­sed gla­cier, wide gaps yaw­ning not far away.

We are aiming at a small group of rocks cal­led Nunat­ak­ken. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, the wea­ther luck does not hold, and it beco­mes more and more clear that we won’t make it to the top today. The sky is tur­ning from blue to grey, and a cloud is sud­den­ly han­ging at the cra­ter rim, disap­pearing again only to come back lar­ger and thi­c­ker soon. The wind is also picking up, some of us are almost loo­sing their balan­ce for seconds. My opti­mism is for the peak going down.

Soon, Gud­jon stops the group, and I know what he wants to say. Alt­hough his rea­son is a dif­fe­rent one at this moment: one group mem­ber is exhaus­ted, the ascent is too long, he won’t con­ti­nue. It does not mat­ter, the result is the same, both rea­sons good enough: we have to turn around here, in an alti­tu­de of 1600 metres. It is only about 2 kilo­me­tres to the top as the crow flies, but it would take 4-5 hours. Mother natu­re is just clo­sing the door.

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

This is, of cour­se, disap­poin­ting, and for a moment, the­re is ten­si­on and a dis­cus­sion which I don’t like, cer­tain­ly not here and now. It des­troys the impres­si­on this uni­que land­s­cape makes on me. After all the effort we have taken to get here, I would rather enjoy the view for the few minu­tes we spend here, than poin­ting out that we are not going up in poor visi­bi­li­ty and incre­a­sing wind for ano­t­her 4-5 hours through crev­as­sed ter­rain.

We turn around. After a rather quick descent, we reach our bivac in Ekerold­da­len after a total of just over 12 hours up and down.

Towards Bee­ren­berg

Bee­ren­berg is cer­tain­ly more dif­fi­cult than the alti­tu­de of a mere 2277 m sug­gests. Only on a hand­ful of days in a year the wea­ther is good enough to allow an ascent. And the logistics, dif­fi­cult any­way, are a night­ma­re sin­ce the new regu­la­ti­ons were intro­du­ced in 2010: no tents any­whe­re but Kval­ross­buk­ta. If this bene­fits the envi­ron­ment (or sci­ence, for that sake), is ano­t­her ques­ti­on, I guess I’ll return to that later.

This means that any attempt to climb Bee­ren­berg will start for nor­mal peop­le (that is ever­y­bo­dy unless you work at the sta­ti­on or you are offi­cial­ly sup­por­ted by Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties) with a hike of almost 20 km. And then you start the long ascent over rocky slo­pes and crev­as­sed gla­ciers. Surely not ever­y­bo­dies cup of tea.

We have had our share of wea­ther of all kinds both during the cros­sing and the first 24 hours on Jan May­en, which was not too encou­ra­ging. Actual­ly qui­te deman­ding. So for today, we had agreed with the sta­ti­on to pay them a visit to get a nice, not too long hike for the first real day here.

But Sig­gi (Sigur­dur, the skip­per) had got new wea­ther infor­ma­ti­on, which spo­ke a clear lan­guage. If an attempt on Bee­ren­berg was to be made, it had to be tomor­row. If it was pos­si­ble at all.

But the­re was only one way to find out. So we could not afford a rather rela­xed day to get accli­ma­ti­zed, which would have been good. Ins­tead, packing again. Equip­ment and food for bivac and gla­cier.

Gusty winds and rain sho­wers were still hit­ting the tents, so we took it with time. We clear­ly did not have any desi­re to start wet into such an under­ta­king. We deci­ded to make good use of the advan­ta­ges of the mid­ni­ght sun.

Final­ly it was time to start. Fol­lowing the road for the first bit, we then went nor­thwards over Puk­kel­ryg­gen, a chain of mos­sy hills, old vol­ca­nic cra­ters, one after ano­t­her. Land­s­cape in dark black, rus­ty read and strong mos­sy green, all threa­tened to be drow­ned in the hea­vy grey of today’s low clouds. We took a breath at a litt­le stream, Pur­p­le saxif­ra­ge and Alpi­ne moun­tain sor­rel ever­y­whe­re, flowers well-known from Spits­ber­gen, which appears as such a friend­ly place from the Jan May­en per­spec­ti­ve. Pas­sing an old figh­ter air­pla­ne wreck from the mad days of WWII, behind it a fog­gy view to the nort­hern lagoon. A shame just to walk past it today, but we still have many kilo­me­tres to go, the long way makes its­elf alrea­dy felt, and so does the weight of the ruck­sacks.

Some of us turn back at Jøs­sing­da­len. Tho­se who hope to climb Bee­ren­berg con­ti­nue into the fog nor­thwards. The remai­ning four fol­low the road south. A last, easy chan­ce to make a decisi­on and turn one’s back to the vol­ca­noe. Some of us are cer­tain­ly con­si­de­ring, then a quick good­bye and on we go, disap­pearing into a moon-like land­s­cape of black vol­ca­nic sand desert and lava fiel­ds, fol­lowing the road which is win­ding its way bet­ween rocky out­crops. They have even set up a few road signs of drift­wood.

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

After a long 18 kilo­me­tres, we have reached Ekerold­da­len. Quot licet iovi, non licet bovi – for some pri­vi­le­ged indi­vi­du­als, this is the par­king place, other may not even set up a camp. So we roll our slee­ping bags out on vol­ca­nic sand. A snow patch deli­vers some water, so we can turn dried food into some­thing like a hot meal and tea. I hope, the next cou­p­le of fog­gy hours here in Ekerold­da­len bring some rest. We’ll need it tomor­row.

Jan May­en wea­ther

We had gone into the slee­ping bags with high expec­ta­ti­ons for a rest­ful night and exci­ting days to come, but the­re would be no rest and exci­te­ment was to come in a slight­ly dif­fe­rent way than expec­ted. Strong gusts came over the hills from the north to remind us whe­re we real­ly were, just in case anyo­ne had for­got­ten. The noi­se of flap­ping can­vas  and worries about the sta­bi­li­ty of the tents kept most, if not all, of us awa­ke, cer­tain­ly my fel­low tent mate Gud­jon, our helms­man and gla­cier spe­cia­list and me.

And inde­ed, next morning the tents made a mixed impres­si­on at best. Wet ever­y­whe­re out­side and most­ly also insi­de, inclu­ding items that you would real­ly pre­fer to have dry. One tent part­ly bro­ken for the time being. To sta­bi­li­ze the other ones, again we car­ri­ed tons of stones. Rain run­ning down insi­de the clothes, sand grin­ding off the skin from wet hands, but at least the tents stay whe­re they are. Black humour insi­de the kit­chen tent, whe­re we warm our cold fin­gers with hot tea cups.

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

In the after­noon, the wind calms slow­ly down. Litt­le walks bring back warm­th and good spi­rits. I real­ly hope we won’t get ano­t­her wea­ther front like this too soon, we have had more than our share of it, as we all agree. Lack of sleep sin­ce we left Ice­land. A calm night is what I real­ly need. Sure I am spea­king for all of us.

First impres­si­ons

It took over four years from the first thought of an expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en going more in-depth than the „usu­al“ few hours of a ship-based visit, but now, final­ly, the­re we were! The first impres­si­ons were just over­whel­min­gly beau­ti­ful. A most­ly sun­ny sky cas­ting gre­at light over a bizar­re sce­ne­ry. Impres­si­ve rock stacks on the outer coast. An end­less beach with immense amounts of drift­wood. Bee­ren­berg towe­ring behind and abo­ve it all. How gre­at is it to spend some days wit­hin this land­s­cape! Here! Final­ly!

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

Jan May­en – arri­val

2014, 03rd/04th July Of cour­se it was qui­te a reli­ef to reach Jan May­en after this cros­sing. As we went clo­ser to land, the move­ment of the boat decre­a­sed and heads pop­ped brief­ly up to get the first glim­p­ses of Jan May­en and Bee­ren­berg, which was towe­ring abo­ve the clouds. We ancho­red in Kval­ross­buk­ta on Thurs­day in the late evening, almost at mid­ni­ght. The shel­ter of the bay made life much more enjoya­ble again, some­thing we all appre­cia­ted great­ly. None of us had enough ener­gy to go ashore. It was gre­at to get some food again, a need that had lar­ge­ly been igno­red for several days, and Sigur­dur was quick to put some­thing very enjoya­ble tog­e­ther, which chee­red ever­y­bo­dy up great­ly.

Some had to dis­co­ver that things often don’t stay dry on a small sai­ling boat in bad wea­ther. It was not nice to arri­ve at Jan May­en with wet stuff and damp slee­ping bags. More water­pro­of bags would be on the list next time.

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

After a good cou­p­le of hours of well-deser­ved rest and a hear­ty bre­ak­fast, it was time to go ashore. The hours went quick­ly by sor­ting gear out, dry­ing wet things, car­ry­ing per­so­nal belon­gings, tents and all the rest of it from the beach to the camp, collec­ting tons of stones to secu­re the tents … I don’t think I had ever car­ri­ed so many stones befo­re in my life.

The cros­sing

What a cros­sing! 470 nau­ti­cal miles from Ísaf­jörður to Jan May­en. On a 60 foot yacht against the wind.

For weeks, we could have had pret­ty calm wea­ther, but just in time for our depar­tures, storm warning were issued in Ice­land. So the case was unmistaka­b­ly clear. The begin­ning was beau­ti­ful, sai­ling out of Ísaf­jörður, pas­sing the outer Nor­thwes­t­fjords such as Aðal­vik and Horn­vik … good memo­ries com­ing up again. Nice evening light, just a bit of swell. We cros­sed the arc­tic cir­cle around mid­ni­ght.

Ever­ything was pret­ty much ok on Tues­day, hard­ly any wind, just a bit of swell. Well, some of us were hard­ly seen, but some weird sounds made it clear they were still the­re, but I don’t want to go into fur­ther detail. That’s part of life on boat of this size.

But the head­winds star­ting Wed­nes­day morning, they were real­ly not necessa­ry. We could well have done without. It was sim­ply not nice. Not at all. Save you from fur­ther details.

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

But now we have got Jan May­en next to us. Pas­sing Sør-Jan, the sou­thern part of the island, in the most beau­ti­ful evening light. Storm clouds are rus­hing over the island, pain­ted pink by the evening sun. Lava streams com­ing down green slo­pes, fro­zen rivers of mol­ten rocks, cove­r­ed with mos­ses and lichens. What a view!

The­re is still a strong wind blowing over the island, white hor­ses ever­y­whe­re, more than at open sea. But it sup­po­sed to get bet­ter the next days. Fin­gers cros­sed!

Ber­lin Reykja­vik Ísaf­jörður

Exci­te­ments are rising and rising. A mix­tu­re of being exci­ted and loo­king for­ward to Jan May­en, but I am also almost fee­ling a bit ner­vous about it, some­thing I haven’t known befo­re ven­tu­ring on arc­tic trips for years. But this time, it’s dif­fe­rent. It will be deman­ding, a tough trip, an expe­di­ti­on if you want. No easy walks, but long, tough hikes. No upper limit to the shit wea­ther sca­le. And 2 days riding the waves befo­re we even get the­re. But that’s all part of the fun. The fasci­na­ti­on that is drag­ging us to Jan May­en does not come for free.

I plan­ned an inten­se trip to Jan May­en alrea­dy in 2012, but one of the two ships invol­ved in the logistics then had pro­blems some mon­ths befo­re, and that kil­led the who­le plan. May­be the plan was just too com­pli­ca­ted, invol­ving two ships, get­ting the­re with one, lea­ving with the next one, rather than having one small sai­ling yacht that is real­ly dedi­ca­ted to our voya­ge during that time and not­hing else. So it wasn’t to hap­pen in 2012. But it is may­be just per­fect as it is, becau­se Jan May­en was dis­co­ve­r­ed exact­ly 400 years ago. Pro­bab­ly. Nobo­dy knows exact­ly. But we know that the first docu­men­ted visit was on 28th June 1614 by the Eng­lish wha­ling Cap­tain John Clar­ke. The 28th June 1614. To the day exact­ly 400 years befo­re I packed my stuff to tra­vel in Clarke’s wake! How ama­zing is that! Is that coin­ci­dence? I guess it was meant to hap­pen like that. Some­ti­mes things hap­pen for rea­sons that we don’t qui­te under­stand. Let’s assu­me it is all a good sign!

Of cour­se, the last days were hec­tic. How else could it have been. Spent too much time run­ning around, spen­ding money on things that I thought I would need or things I know I will need but can’t find or wha­te­ver.

While the wea­ther on Jan May­en is almost sus­pi­cious­ly well – 11 degrees, almost no wind, even lar­ge­ly sun­ny – it is all almost sus­pi­cious­ly easy here. Neit­her a traf­fic jam causing cata­stro­phic delays, nor does the car break down. I am sus­pi­cious. And the cheap Ice­lan­dic air­line does not even com­p­lain about my over­weight. Tal­king about my lug­ga­ge, of cour­se! I have done my bit to make sure my own weight is in rea­son­ab­ly good shape, rea­dy for Bee­ren­berg, hope­ful­ly. Run­ning, hiking with hea­vy ruck­sack, bicy­cling, some extra trai­ning. In the end, get­ting to the top of Bee­ren­berg or not is not life important to me, it will be exci­ting whe­re­ver we get on Jan May­en. But if we have a chan­ce, if the wea­ther Gods are friend­ly and ever­ything works well, then it would be too annoy­ing if my legs don’t want to car­ry me up.

And while I am han­ging out ano­t­her 2 hours at the domestic air­port, I have the unex­pec­ted oppor­tu­ni­ty to watch foot­ball. Mexi­co against the Nether­lands. I have alrea­dy met Gudo, a fel­low tra­vel­ler from the Nether­lands. Of cour­se he is watching clo­se­ly. And the Dut­ch team has just got the ball into the net … hope that isn’t going over his mood … but it isn’t. Nobo­dy real­ly keen on foot­ball would tra­vel some­whe­re as remo­te as Jan May­en the­se days any­way.

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

And, by the way: the fact that we return to Ice­land one day befo­re the final is coin­ci­dence. Real­ly. I rea­li­zed it just a few days ago.

Did anyo­ne real­ly read this far, or was it alrea­dy too much? Apart from sit­ting in a pla­ne for some hours, not­hing has real­ly hap­pen­ed so far. Time to finish for the moment. I’d bet­ter read a bit in the Jan May­en book, polish my histo­ry know­ledge a bit. Yes, I am star­ting to read my own books. May­be weird, but … not bad … J and my last visit to Jan May­en was alrea­dy several years ago. Admit­ted­ly.

Infos for tra­vel tho­se inte­res­ted: Some thoughts about the Jan May­en tour that you should read if you con­si­der to par­ti­ci­pa­te in the future.

Arc­tic blog: Jan May­en, Spits­ber­gen

Join voya­ges to Jan May­en and Spits­ber­gen from the sofa! Rolf Stan­ge will publish impres­si­ons and adven­tures from his polar tra­vels more or less regu­lar­ly through the arc­tic sum­mer. Litt­le sto­ries and expe­ri­en­ces, first-hand from the far north. More here in the blog.

Approach to Isafjor­dur: Begin­ning of the Jan May­en adven­ture.

Arktis Blog: Anflug Ísafjörður


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