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Home* News and Stories → Nord­aus­t­land cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ted by sea kaya­kers

Nord­aus­t­land cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ted by sea kaya­kers

The main island of Spits­ber­gen has been cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ted by sea kaya­kers alrea­dy in 1990. But the second-lar­gest island, Nord­aus­t­land, has so far withs­tood all attempts. Not that the­re have been a lot, but the­re were a few, which never real­ly took off due to hea­vy ice con­di­ti­ons.

Next to dif­fi­cult ice and wea­ther con­di­ti­ons, it is the long ice cliff of the ice cap Aus­t­fon­na on the east and south coast of Nord­aus­t­land, which makes any attempt to kayak this coast a very deman­ding ven­ture. The cal­ving gla­cier front is about 160 kilo­me­tres long and does not afford any oppor­tu­ni­ty to land for a rest or to sit out bad wea­ther.

This sum­mer, two groups have been suc­cess­ful with their attempts to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te Nord­aus­t­land. The Nor­we­gi­an group “Nord­aus­t­land” reached Kinn­vi­ka on August 14, whe­re they had star­ted their kaya­king expe­di­ti­on. A crui­se ship pro­vi­ded safe and com­for­ta­ble trans­por­ta­ti­on from Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Kinn­vi­ka and back, the goal of the expe­di­ti­on was kaya­king around Nord­aus­t­land and this has been achie­ved. Congra­tu­la­ti­ons!

But “Nord­aus­t­land 2015” were not the first group. Just about one day befo­re, a group of three kaya­kers, two from New Zea­land and one from Nor­way, had com­ple­ted their kayak-cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ti­on of Nord­aus­t­land suc­cess­ful­ly. Congra­tu­la­ti­ons also to this group! But they have not yet com­ple­ted their expe­di­ti­on, as it is their ambi­tious plan to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te the who­le archi­pe­la­go, from Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. But they have done the lar­gest step, Nord­aus­t­land, with impres­si­ve suc­cess.

Both groups met on the way, kept good con­ta­ct and sup­por­ted each other with infor­ma­ti­on. “Nord­aus­t­land 2015” wro­te in their blog “If we reck­on that Nord­aus­t­lan­det is 800 mil­li­on years old, 24 hours dif­fe­rence is insi­gni­fi­cant.” Only a quib­bler would chal­len­ge this 🙂

Both groups have made an ama­zing achie­ve­ment with years of pre­pa­ra­ti­on and trai­ning. The New Zea­land-Nor­we­gi­an group com­ple­ted the 160 kilo­me­ter ice cliff coast wit­hin 40 hours without any major rests. Cam­ping on Isi­søya­ne (ear­lier cal­led Isis­pyn­ten) was not pos­si­ble becau­se of the pre­sence of a num­ber of polar bears. Vibe­buk­ta was the next place whe­re put­ting up a tent was an opti­on. Drift ice and fog slo­wed the trip down. Fri­dt­jof Nan­sen, who in 1895 and 1896 made an incredi­ble kajak adven­ture north of and wit­hin Franz Josef Land tog­e­ther with Hja­l­mar Johan­sen during his Fram Expe­di­ti­on, would be impres­sed.

Gla­cier front on the south coast of Nord­aus­t­land behind den­se drift ice, July 2015.

Glacier front Nordaustland

Sources: Nord­aus­t­land 2015 (Face­book), Ice bears and Islands

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last modification: 2015-08-21 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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