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Monthly Archives: November 2015 − News


Sval­bard win­ter 2016: pho­to trip and a bal­loon adven­ture

Some new ide­as for exci­ting tra­vels to Spits­ber­gen in win­ter 2016: tog­e­ther with Spitz­ber­gen Adven­tures, we are doing a pho­to trip into the arc­tic win­ter. In March, the regu­lar chan­ge bet­ween sun­light and darkness is brin­ging con­stant­ly chan­ging light and colours into the arc­tic win­ter land­s­cape. Based in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Bar­ents­burg, we will spend a full week to enjoy and explo­re the sce­nic beau­ty of Spits­ber­gen, most­ly using snow mobi­les for trans­por­ta­ti­on, at a time when the light is often at its best, from gla­cial ice caves to wide val­leys and the cold coast (liter­al­ly: “Sval­bard”). Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on about this trip.

By snow mobi­le into Svalbard’s win­ter land­s­cape. Sun­sets can crea­te stun­ning light in March.

photo trip Svalbard winter

Addi­tio­nal­ly, Spitz­ber­gen Adven­tures has come up with some­thing real­ly new and spe­cial: the arc­tic bal­loon Adven­ture. Arc­tic sce­ne­ry enjoy­ed from a bird’s eye view. Sin­ce flight­see­ing using moto­ri­zed air­craft inclu­ding pla­nes and heli­co­p­ters is com­ple­te­ly ban­ned, this is a uni­que and envi­ron­ment­al­ly sound oppor­tu­ni­ty to see ama­zing sce­ne­ry from a total­ly new per­spec­ti­ve. The method has pro­ven to work spec­ta­cu­lar­ly during the solar eclip­se in Sval­bard in March 2015. Now, Spitz­ber­gen Adven­tures is offe­ring several depar­tures for tho­se who are keen on this adven­ture (click here for more info).

The Spits­ber­gen bal­loon adven­ture: A new idea by Spitz­ber­gen Adven­tures.

Spitsbergen balloon adventure

Hiking to Pyra­mi­den in the polar night

Hiking from Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Pyra­mi­den in the polar night does not sound like a good plan. Not having serious equip­ment does not make it bet­ter. If you start such a deman­ding jour­ney without at least a good slee­ping bag, solid win­ter hiking boots and a wea­pon (and a lot of other stuff), then you are eit­her cra­zy or sui­ci­dal.

So nobo­dy would even think of this? Wrong. Yes­ter­day (Novem­ber 23), the Sys­sel­man­nen (poli­ce; search and res­cue agen­cy) had to go out by heli­co­p­ter to search for a tou­rist from Eng­land who had left Lon­gye­ar­by­en and told peop­le befo­re that this was exact­ly what he inten­ded to do – on his own. Some locals he had been tal­king to had con­ta­c­ted the Sys­sel­man­nen.

As it tur­ned out, the many warning the man had recei­ved had alrea­dy been enough to make him chan­ge his mind: he had alrea­dy aban­do­ned his ide­as of a hike to Pyra­mi­den, ins­tead opting for a much more rea­son­ab­le walk to mine 7.

The distance to Pyra­mi­den is 50 km as the crow flies, but the distance over land is well over 100 km, espe­cial­ly as the fjords are still open. The­re are several crev­as­sed gla­ciers on the way: altog­e­ther, an impos­si­ble task in darkness for a sin­gle per­son.

The last part of the over­land rou­te to Pyra­mi­den: Nor­dens­kiöld­breen and Bill­efjord (fro­zen).

Route to Pyramiden

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Tougher bor­der con­trols bet­ween Nor­way and Sval­bard

While Euro­pe is deba­ting tougher bor­der regimes, the Nor­we­gi­an government has imple­men­ted stric­ter bor­der con­trols on flights bet­ween Nor­way and Sval­bard. Pass­port con­trols in Oslo or Trom­sø have to be expec­ted now, whe­re ID cards had been suf­fi­ci­ent so far for non-Nor­we­gi­an Euro­peans.

It is important to make sure that the name on the ticket is exact­ly the same as it is in the pass­port, other­wi­se air­line web­site will not allow online check-in. Staff at check-in coun­ters may deny check-in and boar­ding if the name on the ticket devia­tes from the one in the pass­port.

Sval­bard is under Nor­we­gi­an sov­er­eig­n­ty, but with limi­ta­ti­ons as defi­ned by the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty of 1920. Due to the trea­ty regu­la­ti­ons, Sval­bard is not trea­ted as part of Nor­way by cus­toms. Flights from Oslo to Lon­gye­ar­by­en start at the inter­na­tio­nal part of the air­port Oslo Gar­der­mo­en. Nor­way is part of the Schen­gen trea­ty area, Sval­bard is not, and this means that you are cros­sing a Schen­gen bounda­ry when tra­ve­ling to or from Sval­bard.

The recent tigh­tening has pro­bab­ly litt­le to do with the cur­rent deba­te about Schen­gen bor­ders, refu­gees and secu­ri­ty. It is more likely that the sur­pri­se visit of the Rus­si­an vice pre­mier Rogosin in spring made the Nor­we­gi­an government take the­se steps. If Nor­way would legal­ly have been able to deny Rogosin access to Spits­ber­gen is con­tro­ver­si­al.

No check-in for flights to Lon­gye­ar­by­en without pass­port now. This app­lies also to moo­se.

Pass control

Oil and gas from the Arc­tic? Test dril­lings nor­the­ast of Sval­bard

During Sep­tem­ber and Octo­ber the Nor­we­gi­an Petro­le­um Direc­to­ra­te (Olje­di­rek­to­ra­tet) arran­ged seven test dril­lings nor­the­ast of Sval­bard. The finan­cing for the­se dril­lings was appro­ved by the Nor­we­gi­an Par­lia­ment (Stor­ting).

Such acti­vi­ties are high­ly con­ten­tious, par­ti­cu­lar­ly becau­se Nor­way clear­ly defi­ned that the­re should be no dril­ling for oil or gas bey­ond the sea ice edge, the line of maxi­mum sea ice expan­si­on in spring. This time the dril­lings were done along Svalbard´s east side, up to the island Kvi­tøya and were going down to 200 meters below the seaf­loor. This area lies out­side the pro­tec­tion zone of the archi­pe­la­go but it lies far north of the sea ice edge. In accordance with this fact, the Petro­le­um Direc­to­ra­te decla­red that the dril­lings had not­hing to do with the oil and gas indus­try. They were just sur­veys of the geo­lo­gi­cal struc­tu­re in this area.

The dis­sen­ting oppo­si­ti­on par­ties in the par­lia­ment, the social libe­ral Venst­re and the green MDG, con­dem­ned this ope­ra­ti­on shar­ply. If so far in the north, oil and gas extrac­tion is not inten­ded any­way and is not even allo­wed, at least so far, this ope­ra­ti­on was sim­ply a was­te of money, a spea­ker of the Venst­re said.

In recent years Nor­way pushed for­ward the explo­ra­ti­on of oil and gas fiel­ds in the North Atlan­tic – off Lofo­ten and Ves­terå­len – and in the Bar­ents Sea. But not even the­re extrac­tion is appro­ved ever­y­whe­re, and it is still con­tro­ver­si­al. It is rejec­ted among others by parts of the local popu­la­ti­on, envi­ron­men­tal asso­cia­ti­ons and by the fishing indus­try. Howe­ver, when lar­ge oil and gas fiel­ds are dis­co­ve­r­ed and explo­red con­ti­nuous­ly, as recent­ly hap­pen­ed in the Bar­ents Sea nor­thwest of Ham­mer­fest, this will obvious­ly crea­te facts, regard­less of the cur­rent legal situa­ti­on. Poli­ti­cal decisi­ons will be influ­en­ced by the pro­spect of eco­no­mi­c­al pro­fit. In 2012 the for­mer for­eign minis­ter Espen Barth Eide of the social demo­cra­tic Arbei­der­par­tiet alrea­dy made clear that eco­no­mic con­si­de­ra­ti­ons are prio­ri­ti­zed when it comes to the Nor­we­gi­an oil and gas resour­ces. Envi­ron­men­tal poli­tics can be adjus­ted, if necessa­ry (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news Nor­we­gi­an for­eign minis­ter about arc­tic oil and gas from Novem­ber 2012).

Nor­the­as­tern Sval­bard: a place for polar bears, ice and wil­der­ness, not for oil and gas.

Northeastern Svalbard

Source: TV2

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