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Home → April, 2015

Monthly Archives: April 2015 − Travelblog


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.

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.

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.

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.

Eas­ter wee­kend in Bjørn­da­len

(4th/5th April 2015) After some calm ear­ly April days, it is time to get out again when the Eas­ter wee­kend is approa­ching. Ever­y­bo­dy here who has some means of trans­por­ta­ti­on and pos­si­b­ly even access to one of the nowa­days much sought-after huts is abs­con­ding from zivi­li­sa­ti­on, and I am hap­py to be part of that. It does not have to be far and adven­tur­ous. That is one of Longyearbyen’s nice aspects: the arc­tic wil­der­ness starts as soon as you have pas­sed the last house.

For many here, Bjørn­da­len is some­thing like a city park in a wider sen­se. It is easy to get the­re by car or snow mobi­le, and the­re is a num­ber of huts in local owners­hip near the Isfjord coast. This is whe­re I spend this lovely wee­kend. All inclu­si­ve! Sce­nic views of the wide Isfjord, good food in good com­pa­ny, and small things are sear­ched for by tho­se who still belie­ve in the Eas­ter bun­ny, hid­den by tho­se who know bet­ter. At least in this case.

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

The­re is no Eas­ter bun­ny in Bjørn­da­len, but Arc­tic fox and ptar­mi­gan are at home the­re. I will have to spend some more time here, soon.

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