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Home → April, 2015

Monthly Archives: April 2015 − News & Stories


Pyra­mi­den

This year’s win­ter sea­son will not be long any­mo­re, Lan­gøy­sund is alrea­dy sai­ling again, the good, old day trip boat that will take tou­rists to Bar­ents­burg and Pyra­mi­den from now on throughout the sum­mer. Well, Pyra­mi­den is not yet acces­si­ble by boat, the­re is is still ice in inner Bill­efjord – and that’s how it should be. Hope­ful­ly it lasts for ano­t­her while.

We have to make use of that. Once again enjoy­ing the view from upper Nor­dens­kiöld­breen across inner Bill­efjord to Pyra­mi­den … a long trip, if done in one day, but we can’t afford a night in Pyra­mi­den now, time-wise.

The ice in Tem­pel­fjord has bro­ken up at Fred­heim, the­re is only a nar­row rim of ice atta­ched to the shore whe­re it is actual­ly still pos­si­ble to pass, but we deci­de to opt for a steep slo­pe down from a moun­tain deeper in the fjord, whe­re the ice is safer. Noor­der­licht is still the­re in the ice and will pro­bab­ly stay the­re for ano­t­her cou­p­le of weekd, but for how long will it be pos­si­ble to visit her?

The trip through sce­nic Bün­sow Land is always a high­light, espe­cial­ly in wea­ther like today. And then we have got it, this view from Nor­dens­kiöld­breen, whe­re you stand 500 m abo­ve the fjord, under Urm­s­ton­fjel­let, to enjoy the view descri­bed abo­ve.

If you have been to Pyra­mi­den last year, then you will know the local gui­de Sascha. He is back again this year, a plea­sant mee­ting. And same for an equal­ly plea­sant, but much more sur­pri­sing mee­ting with a friend from the sai­ling boat Anti­gua. Ismail is here now with ano­t­her boat, the Bør, which is along­side at the ice edge, not too far from Pyra­mi­den so they could walk here. So snow mobi­le expe­di­tio­nists and sailors meet in one and the same place.

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

The­re are even more remar­kab­le mee­tings on this beau­ti­ful day. As we have a rest on the ice on our way back to Nor­dens­kiöld­breen, a polar bear fami­ly is wal­king not too far from us. The arc­tic can­not be more beau­ti­ful than this. They walk past us, and as they have left, we start again and con­ti­nue our long trip back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. This was the last win­ter trip for us for this year. It won’t be long any­mo­re and then we will con­ti­nue under sail.

East coast

25th-26th April 2015 – I can repeat the text of the last blog ent­ry here with just some minor adap­ti­ons without fee­ling bad about it. Some­ti­mes it is so easy. Life does not have to be com­pli­ca­ted up here, it does not have to be dif­fe­rent every day. The arc­tic is beau­ti­ful. Enjoy­ing it is the main point. That’s it.

Of cour­se it is nevertheless nice to dis­co­ver new pla­ces. Such as Mos­kus­da­len on the eas­tern side of Sas­senda­len. Many dri­ve past Mos­kus­da­len on the way to the east coast, few bother to have a look. But it is a beau­ti­ful place. Not big and spec­ta­cu­lar. Small, silent, beau­ti­ful. It has even got an old hut, ano­t­her secon­da­ry hut built by the famous Hil­mar Nøis, pro­bab­ly in the 1920s or 1930s.

And now, as pro­mi­sed, the slight­ly adap­ted repe­ti­ti­on of the last blog’s text ☺

The sce­nic beau­ty of Sas­senda­len and Mohn­buk­ta can­not be prai­sed too often. The bet­ter if you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy this arc­tic para­di­se not just for a few hours, but for some days. You don’t have to do a lot, the polar cine­ma is play­ing an end­less film of sheer beau­ty. Just watch natu­re through the win­dow of a cou­sy cabin for a while. You will con­stant­ly dis­co­ver new details and be ama­zed by the chan­ging light and atmo­s­phe­re. Gre­at mid­ni­ght sun­sets.

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

Rus­si­an Vice pre­mier Rogo­zin in Spits­ber­gen

The sud­den sur­fa­cing of the power­ful Rus­si­an poli­ti­ci­an Dmi­try Rogo­zin, vice pre­mier and lea­der of the Rus­si­an government’s new Arc­tic Com­mis­si­on, stir­red Nor­we­gi­an offi­cials up. Rogo­zin is on an EU sanc­tion list and not wel­co­me in Nor­way, as was sub­se­quent­ly made clear by the Nor­we­gi­an government.

Rogo­zin pro­vo­ked the Nor­we­gi­an government by men­tio­ning that the Nor­we­gi­an sov­er­eig­n­ty is limi­ted in Sval­bard (the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty makes undis­pu­ta­b­ly clear that Nor­way has full sov­er­eig­n­ty over the Spits­ber­gen archi­pe­la­go, but it does inde­ed put some limits to the exe­cu­ti­on of the sov­er­eig­n­ty). Accord­ing to Rogo­zin, nobo­dy could be kept from visi­t­ing Sval­bard.

It is not known how Rogo­zin, who made his arri­val known via twit­ter, arri­ved at the air­port at Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but it is safe to assu­me that he did not tra­vel trough main­land Nor­way. Rogo­zin soon con­ti­nued to the Rus­si­an drift ice sta­ti­on Bar­neo near the north pole, whe­re he made fur­ther pro­vo­ca­ti­ve comments in an inter­view to Rus­si­an sta­te TV: “Last year, we had the his­to­ri­cal reuni­fi­ca­ti­on of Sevas­to­pol and the Cri­mea. This year, we pre­sent a new view and new power­ful stress on the deve­lo­p­ment of the Arc­tic. Basi­cal­ly, its is all about the same …” and he con­ti­nued: Rus­sia is now “star­ting to get more con­scious about ter­ri­to­ry, its inte­rests and bor­ders”. Rus­sia is known as natio­na­list and expan­sio­nist.

Norway’s for­eign minis­ter Bør­ge Bren­de did not lea­ve any doubts that “peop­le on the sanc­tions list, peop­le that have been cen­tral in breaching inter­na­tio­nal law in Ukrai­ne, are not wel­co­me to the main­land or to Sval­bard”.

It is, howe­ver, unli­kely that this will make of an impres­si­on on the Rus­si­an vice pre­mier.

Rus­si­an vice pre­mier Dmi­triy Rogo­zin at the Rus­si­an drift ice sta­ti­on Bar­neo near the north pole (twit­ter pho­to)..

Rogozin

Source: Bar­ents­ob­ser­ver

Vin­dod­den

20th-22nd April 2015 – Vin­dod­den – The sce­nic beau­ty of Sas­sen­fjord and Tem­pel­fjord – both are one con­ti­nuous fjord sys­tem – can­not be prai­sed too often. The bet­ter if you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy this arc­tic para­di­se not just for a few hours, but for some days. You don’t have to do a lot, the polar cine­ma is play­ing an end­less film of sheer beau­ty. Just watch natu­re through the win­dow of a cou­sy cabin for a while. You will con­stant­ly dis­co­ver new details and be ama­zed by the chan­ging light and atmo­s­phe­re. Some­ti­mes a fox will visit the hut. Gre­at mid­ni­ght sun­sets, the last ones of the spring. In a few days, the­re won’t be any sun­sets any­mo­re until late August.

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

Arc­tic voya­ges 2015: Jan May­en, Spits­ber­gen

Two tickets have beco­me avail­ab­le again on the expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en 2015 (15th-27th June) due to a can­cel­la­ti­on. Demand is high, the Jan May­en expe­di­ti­on in 2016 is alrea­dy ful­ly boo­ked.

In June 2015 we are sai­ling to Jan May­en

Jan Mayen: Beerenberg

The­re is also still the oppor­tu­ni­ty to join us on the voya­ge in Spits­ber­gen (15th-25th Sep­tem­ber) 2015 with SV Anti­gua, with focus­ses on gla­cier hikes and pho­to­gra­phy, next to the “more usu­al” lan­dings and walk, which we will cer­tain­ly also do. This voya­ge will be Ger­man spea­king.

… and in Sep­tem­ber 2015 with SV Anti­gua to Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers.

Spitzbergen September 2015 mit SV Antigua: Gletscher

Ant­arc­tic pan­ora­ma: Cape Ada­re

The­re is a new pan­ora­ma tour (vir­tu­al tour) from Ant­arc­ti­ca, name­ly from Cape Ada­re in the Ross Sea. Cape Ada­re is one of the most famous, but rare­ly visi­ted pla­ces in Ant­arc­ti­ca: in 1895, it was the site of the first well-docu­men­ted lan­ding on the con­ti­nent, and in 1899 it was the site of the very first win­te­ring on the con­ti­nent, by an expe­di­ti­on led by Kars­ten Borch­g­re­vink. The­se sto­ries are short­ly sum­ma­ri­zed in the new pan­ora­ma tour, and so is the visit of the nort­hern par­ty under Camp­bell during Robert F. Scott’s final expe­di­ti­on with Ter­ra Nova.

The pan­ora­ma tour docu­ments the his­to­ric huts at Cape Ada­re and gives impres­si­ons of the ama­zing sce­ne­ry of the place at the nort­hern­most end of Vic­to­ria Land, being part of the famous Tran­s­ant­arc­tic Moun­tains. Cape Ada­re is also home to the lar­gest colo­ny of Adé­lie pen­gu­ins in Ant­arc­ti­ca, which means in the world.

In ear­ly Febru­a­ry, I was lucky to spend a rare good wea­ther day at Cape Ada­re. On this occa­si­on, I shot the pan­ora­mas which are now assem­bled to this new pan­ora­ma / vir­tu­al tour (click here to get to the tour). Enjoy a vir­tu­al trip to Cape Ada­re!

Vir­tu­al tour of Cape Ada­re, site of the first lan­ding and win­te­ring in Ant­arc­ti­ca and home to the lar­gest colo­ny of Adé­lie pen­gu­ins.

Kap Adare Panorama-Tour

The arc­tic blog con­ti­nued

The arc­tic blog is now con­ti­nued! Sin­ce mid March, I am back in Spits­ber­gen and fre­quent­ly out on tour. Came­ra, an open eye and eager­ness to see and expe­ri­ence arc­tic sce­ne­ry, wild­life and histo­ry are always with me, and this results in pho­to gal­le­ries and litt­le sto­ries from tra­vels out in the arc­tic wil­der­ness, publis­hed in my arc­tic blog, which will be con­ti­nued for most of the year. A trip to Tem­pel­fjord makes the begin­ning, fol­lo­wed by the event of the year in Spits­ber­gen, the solar eclip­se. Enjoy some vir­tu­al high lati­tu­de tra­ve­ling!

Click here for the over­view of the blog.

The arc­tic blog is con­ti­nued: pho­tos and sto­ries from tra­vels in Spits­ber­gen, Jan May­en and Green­land.

arctic blog

Almost doub­ling of snow mobi­le acci­dents

Emer­gen­cy ser­vices and hos­pi­tal have got a record-high num­ber of mis­si­ons and pati­ents from snow mobi­le acci­dents this year. Until late March, the hos­pi­tal had 38 pati­ents in tre­at­ment with inju­ries rela­ted to acci­dents from snow mobi­le dri­ving. In 2014, the equi­va­lent num­ber was 21. Inju­ries often inclu­de frac­tures.

The data base is not suf­fi­ci­ent to ana­ly­ze rea­sons, but this season’s ins­ta­ble wea­ther may have con­tri­bu­t­ed with bad visi­bi­li­ty at times and icy sur­faces.

The pro­por­ti­ons of locals and tou­rists is also not known. Several serious acci­dents inclu­ded local dri­vers, such as the young man who died in an avalan­che in Janu­a­ry and the exten­si­ve search and res­cue mis­si­on on the east coast. In late March, a young man from Lon­gye­ar­by­en fell into a 6 m deep snow who­le with his snow mobi­le and recei­ved hea­vy head inju­ries. He is still in hos­pi­tal in Trom­sø, not in a life-threa­tening con­di­ti­on any­mo­re but he his being kept in an arti­fi­cial coma.

The num­bers of par­ti­ci­pants on orga­ni­zed tours have not reached the levels of the record years of 2007 and 2008 again, but the num­bers of indi­vi­du­al snow mobi­le ren­tals have incre­a­sed, indi­ca­ting a lar­ger num­ber of tou­rists indi­vi­du­al­ly in the field. Tho­se who are out on indi­vi­du­al trips with limi­ted expe­ri­en­ced and without local know­ledge have to remem­ber that they are tra­ve­ling with a strong vehi­cle that can quick­ly reach high speed in ter­rain that has all the poten­ti­al traps and dan­ge­rous that the win­ter arc­tic may have. Uneven ter­rain, wind­ho­les in the snow etc. can be dif­fi­cult to see in bad wea­ther or poor light con­di­ti­ons, which may quick­ly result in dan­ge­rous acci­dents.

Enjoya­ble evening on tour with snow mobi­les. But the wea­ther is not always as nice as here.

Snow mobile, sunset

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten (14, 2015)

Lars­breen

Lars­breen is clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, kind of a city park in a wider sen­se, a popu­lar area for ski­ing. As soon as you start to climb up, not far from Nyby­en, you have the arc­tic silence all around you, as Lars­breen is a snow mobi­le free area.

As most gla­ciers, Lars­breen is also chan­ging. The ascent is dif­fe­rent than it used to be. We clim­bed up through the cen­tral meltwa­ter chan­nel, some­thing that pro­vi­ded a very inte­res­ting land­s­cape expe­ri­ence. A litt­le can­yon cut into the gla­cier, with various morai­ne depo­sits nice­ly visi­ble in the gla­cier ice. A cross sec­tion wit­hin an acti­ve gla­cier, how often do you get that?

Hig­her up, the gla­cier is get­ting wider, and next to it, the­re is Troll­stei­nen, offe­ring a lovely view over cen­tral Nor­dens­kiöld Land. With a nice­ly deve­lo­ped Halo as a crown, kind of a rain­bow, but based on ice crys­tals rather than water dro­p­lets.

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

Good down­hill ski­ing, fol­lo­wed final­ly by a visit to Coal Miners’s Grill, the new fee­ding place in Nyby­en. What else could you ask for from a good day in the Arc­tic ☺

Tem­pel­fjord

It is such a thing with Tem­pel­fjord this year. Not too long ago, it was clear and easy: the tran­si­ti­on from solid ground in Sas­senda­len to fjord ice in Tem­pel­fjord at Fred­heim was con­ve­ni­ent and as safe as fjord ice can ever be. This had been the case until 2013. In 2014, waves were lap­ping against the beach at Fred­heim for the who­le win­ter! This year, it was, well, not per­fect, but bet­ter. At least. It was pos­si­ble to get onto the ice at Fred­heim, alt­hough the ice edge was not far and the ice its­elf was not always as solid as one might have wis­hed. But it worked. Of cour­se, we did not miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pay the gla­ciers in inner Tem­pel­fjord a visit.

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

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Eas­ter brain­tea­ser: the mys­te­ry sol­ved

The Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Eas­ter brain­tea­ser – what does the pho­to at the bot­tom show? – has got a lot of nice replies. A selec­tion of ans­wers (my own trans­la­ti­on of tho­se that were sent in Ger­man):

  • Clo­se-up of Hump­back wha­le skin
  • Clo­se-up of Wal­rus skin in black & white
  • Ice sur­face. It loo­ks like some­thing has ground it (like the sur­face at a cur­ling court (Swe­den beco­me world champs yes­ter­day!)). So that has to be my guess. Not a cur­ling court, but a ice cove­r­ed sur­face that been groun­ded in some way. May­be from dog sledge skids?
  • Ice struc­tures
  • Is it fro­zen water from below with trap­ped air bub­bles?
  • A warm item (e.g. a warm kett­le) put on fro­zen water.
  • An aeri­al pho­to of fro­zen mud flats at low tide.
  • I thought fro­zen water at first, but I don’t think that’s right.
  • Not polis­hed con­cre­te?
  • Iced-over stroma­to­li­thes that got a gla­cio­lo­gi­cal hair­cut
  • Nega­ti­ve imprint of a fos­sil fern
  • think it is water over some fro­zen soil or some­thing….
    actual­ly i have no clue even after sta­ring for 30 minu­tes at the pic­tu­re!
    in any case: it is beau­ti­ful! 🙂
  • A true conch in shal­low water?
  • May­be a shoe sole
  • A rather rare iron struc­tu­re on a geo­de (or part of it)
  • Pro­fi­le of a snow mobi­le belt
  • Clo­se-up of ice struc­tu­re
  • A dog in a river bed / ice sur­face

A num­ber of inte­res­ting and sur­pri­sin­gly varied ans­wers! It seems to have been more dif­fi­cult than I had thought, and this shows how much came­ra and lens may help to see things that other­wi­se are hid­den or that we see, if at all, in a dif­fe­rent way. All tho­se who have seen gla­cier ice have had this phe­no­me­non near them (but not necessa­ri­ly seen it and paid atten­ti­on to it).

This is how the pic­tu­re was taken:

What is this? Gla­cier ice!

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Easter brainteaser: What is this? Glacier ice!

A macro pho­to of gla­cier ice in an ice cave in a gla­cier, with tri­pod and macro lens, to make smal­lest details visi­ble. The brain­tea­ser pho­to shows very small air bub­bles in gla­cier ice. The indi­vi­du­al bub­bles and chan­nels are smal­ler than 1 mm. The area shown on the pho­to is, in rea­li­ty, an esti­ma­ted 4×6 mm lar­ge, or rather: small. This net­work of air bub­bles was ori­en­ted in a plain par­al­lel to the very clear ice sur­face, about 2-3 cm deep in the ice, which altog­e­ther made it pos­si­ble to pho­to­graph it. Plea­se don’t ask me how exact­ly this pat­tern of air chan­nels comes into exis­tence, I don’t know. Plea­se tell me if you know.

The first pri­ce for “Clo­se-up of ice struc­tu­re” goes to Ste­pha­nie in Scot­land! Ste­pha­nie, the choice is yours!

The second pri­ce goes to Leip­zig and the third one to Swe­den. Congra­tu­la­ti­ons to all win­ners and a big thanks to all who sent their ans­wers! It was fun, and that was the who­le pur­po­se of it.

What is this? Very small bub­bles and chan­nels of air trap­ped in gla­cier ice

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Easter brainteaser

Bjørn­da­len

As men­tio­ned, we just had to return to Bjørn­da­len. The pho­tos show why ☺

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

Mohn­buk­ta

The spell that the east coast has on some is strong. Magne­tic. For many, coast is coast. East, west, who cares. Buth for others, the east coast is some­thing spe­cial. A mani­fes­ta­ti­on of remo­teness. It may help when the first visit the­re took place on a trek­king tour and not by snow mobi­le. Then, the distance has a total­ly dif­fe­rent mea­ning. Shor­ter legs of the who­le trip requi­re days and not hours or just minu­tes. Whe­re the land­s­cape appears as a con­ve­ni­ent high­way in the win­ter, you have got end­less tun­dra in the sum­mer, swam­py wet­lands, tor­ren­ti­al meltwa­ter rivers, morains, gla­ciers, … the who­le lot. Just read Mar­tin Conway’s „First cros­sing of Spits­ber­gen“. Recom­men­ded!

And when the east coast is qui­te easi­ly acces­si­ble, it does not necessa­ri­ly loo­se that charme. Qui­te the oppo­si­te. It is a gre­at plea­su­re not to resist the tempt­ati­on as often as pos­si­ble. Ice, wide­ness, silence …

Enough writ­ten for today. The pho­tos will do the rest.

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

Advent­top­pen

Advent­top­pen had been on the wish­list for qui­te some time alrea­dy. The pro­blem: it is on the nort­hern side of Advent­fjord. A few kilo­me­tres only from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, just on the other side of the fjord – on the other side of the fjord. That is exact­ly the pro­blem.

But as so often in the Arc­tic, the win­ter is making life easier. Lower Advent­da­len, near the fjord, is pret­ty much impos­si­ble to cross in the sum­mer. The river the­re is huge. But in win­ter? A high­way. Flat and dry.

A bit of appren­ti­ce­ship due had to be paid on the first attempt. The upper slo­pe of Advent­top­pen is qui­te steep and the snow sur­face was hard as con­cre­te. So the boots, nice­ly warm but too soft, tur­ned out to be not good enough for this pur­po­se. The risk of slip­ping and sli­ding down a steep 200 m slo­pe was just too big, so it was not to hap­pen that day.

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

Ano­t­her attempt. Equip­ped with har­der boots and light wal­king cram­pons, it sud­den­ly was an easy thing. So Advent­top­pen was defi­ni­te­ly due that Tues­day. With 786 m, it is obvious­ly not the hig­hest moun­tain in Longyearbyen’s neigh­bour­hood, but that is not the point. The point is that the top is a point. Not a pla­teaux, as is so often the case in this area. No, on Advent­top­pen, the­re is one point that has got a sple­ndid 360 degree view ☺ guess what hap­pen­ed the­re. Of cour­se I had to cap­tu­re it with 360 degree pan­ora­ma tech­ni­que. And as I am a bit behind with this blog, the result is alrea­dy online: Click here for Pano­Tour.

spitsbergen-svalbard.com Eas­ter brain­tea­ser

Update: I haven’t got an ans­wer so far that real­ly hits the nail on the head. The ques­ti­on will remain open and ent­ries can be filed until the ans­wer appears as a new spitsbergen-svalbard.com news ent­ry.

An Eas­ter brain­tea­ser on spitsbergen-svalbard.com? Yes, why not. I took the pho­to recent­ly here in Spits­ber­gen. And the first one who can tell me what it shows will recei­ve any item (your choice) of the books, post­cards or calen­dar on this web­site (see right side or click here). The second and third inco­m­ing ans­wers – being cor­rect – have the choice wit­hin post­cards or calen­dar. Ent­ries by email (con­ta­ct).

Not dif­fi­cult, is it?

The ans­wer has to be cor­rect and con­cre­te. Ever­ything that is not wrong is cor­rect, unless it is wrong. I (Rolf Stan­ge) deci­de if it is con­cre­te (someo­ne has to do it). It is not enough to wri­te that it is a bit of Spits­ber­gen. This would be cor­rect, but not con­cre­te.

To make it easier, you can down­load a lar­ger file of the same pho­to by cli­cking here.

Good luck – and hap­py Eas­ter!

What is this?

spitsbergen-svalbard.com Easter brainteaser: what is this?

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