fb  Spitsbergen Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  nb  Spitsbergen Shop  
pfeil THE Spitsbergen guidebook pfeil
Home → June, 2015

Monthly Archives: June 2015 − Travelblog

Crossing to Ice­land – 25th-27th June 2015

(25th-27th June 2015) – Three days dif­fe­rent from tho­se on the way up. Of cour­se still a long time for other­wi­se non-oce­an-going peo­p­le who just want to get from A to B. The sail­ors among­st us have, howe­ver, a good num­ber of enjoya­ble miles under sai­les. Start­ing with motoring from Jan May­en, as it is initi­al­ly calm and the wind which is then coming up is blo­wing against us (as always … but not too hard). But then the wind turns east, the sails go up and we don’t need the engi­ne for good parts of the remai­ning way. The oce­an-going souls seem to be glued to the stee­ring wheel while we are making good speed of up to around 10 knots on the way sou­thwest. Under a blue, sun­ny sky! Two times, dol­phins come to visit the boat.

And we are fas­ter on the way up, going along­side in Ísaf­jörður on Satur­day mid day alre­a­dy. The end of an inten­se, suc­cessful, good voya­ge. Thanks to all who were part of it, and good fur­ther tra­vels, home or onwards!

Gal­lery – Crossing to Ice­land – 25th-27th June 2015

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

For me, the next two days are the usu­al sequence of pack­ing, flights, air­ports … a bor­ing neces­si­ty, but soon life is going on in Spits­ber­gen, on board SV Anti­gua ☺

Fare­well Jan May­en – 24th June 2015

Pack­ing tog­e­ther is never gre­at, but at least it all went smooth­ly, thanks to wind and waves or rather the absence of both. So we had time to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te the island, pas­sing the gla­ciers on the north coast and final­ly Jan May­en offe­red a fri­end­ly fare­well with some glim­p­ses of the top of Bee­ren­berg.

Gal­lery – Fare­well Jan May­en – 24th June 2015

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

Jan May­en tri­ath­lon – 23rd June 2015 – St. Hans

Today we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­ple­te the Jan May­en tri­ath­lon. This includes ascen­ding Bee­ren­berg, the famous Jan May­en naked swim­ming and the Kval­ross run.

We had done Bee­ren­berg the days befo­re, other­wi­se it might actual­ly have been a bit tight today, time-wise. So we star­ted the hap­py event with the naked swim­ming in Kval­ross­buk­ta. The rules are simp­le: wit­hout any clo­thes com­ple­te­ly under water, offi­ci­al­ly super­vi­sed by the sta­ti­on com­man­der, who had brought a life ring and the nur­se. You never know. The exer­cise was com­ple­ted by all par­ti­ci­pan­ts to satis­fac­tion.

The Kval­ross run is not to be unde­re­sti­ma­ted: nine kilo­me­t­res along the road, with seve­ral hills, from Kval­ross­buk­ta to the sta­ti­on, that can be quite a bit after the events of the pre­vious days. As I had done this for my part alre­a­dy last year, I focus­sed on the pho­to­gra­phic docu­men­ta­ti­on of the event. I was quite hap­py with that.

A gre­at coin­ci­dence (or good plan­ning on Siggi’s behalf?) brought our last evening on the island tog­e­ther with the Scan­di­na­vi­an mid­sum­mer par­ty St. Hans. We had hard­ly finis­hed our spor­ti­ve pro­gram­me, when the Jan May­en sum­mer games were ope­ned in Båt­vi­ka near the sta­ti­on. Guests and hosts for­med teams to com­pe­te in various disci­pli­nes inclu­ding rope pul­ling, net­ball thro­wing and so on. The pile of drift­wood pre­pared for the fire show­ed that things were taken very serious­ly on this island. It was defi­ni­te­ly the big­gest fire within hundreds of miles, and any pas­sing ship or air­plane would have repor­ted a vol­ca­nic erup­ti­on.

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

Enjoy­ing various goo­dies from the buf­fet and a com­ple­te pig from the grill, visi­tors and sta­ti­on crew enjoy­ed a love­ly evening and have various chats about life on Jan May­en and in gene­ral, some­thing that was enjoy­ed by ever­y­bo­dy as the impres­si­on was. Many thanks to the com­man­der and crew of the Jan May­en sta­ti­on for a gre­at fare­well evening!

Slett­fjel­let, Kval­ross­buk­ta, Kval­ros­sen – 22nd/23rd June 2015

(22nd/23rd June 2015) – After the events of the pre­vious days we cle­ar­ly deser­ved a cal­mer start into the day. Only our Aus­tri­an Pas­cal went off for a long hike, a pil­grimage to the remains of the Aus­tri­an sta­ti­on im Maria Musch­buk­ta, from the first Inter­na­tio­nal Polar Year (1882/83). Pro­ba­b­ly to fly the Aus­tri­an colours once again.

The others opt for smal­ler walk in the sur­roun­dings of Kval­ross­buk­ta or for a medi­um-sized walk towards some cra­ters and smal­ler moun­ta­ins, which do, howe­ver, not pro­tru­de through the clouds, though.

Gal­lery – Slett­fjel­let, Kval­ross­buk­ta, Kval­ros­sen – 22nd/23rd June 2015

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

The evening is sur­pri­sin­gly cosy, much more than usu­al for Jan May­en stan­dards, with a fire on the beach and good Ice­lan­dic cui­sine chez Hau­kur.

Bee­ren­berg – 20th-21st June 2015

(20th-21st June 2015) – Bee­ren­berg – this famous, infa­mous moun­tain, towe­ring 2277 met­res abo­ve the sea in the midd­le of the north Atlan­tic, with its gla­cier-crow­ned cra­ter sum­mit, is a peak that one should be careful to hope for. Too much has to fit, too many fac­tors that you just can’t con­trol, main­ly the wea­ther, of cour­se. How many times did I wri­te emails to peo­p­le who were thin­king about this trip empha­si­zing they shouldn’t be focus­sed on Bee­ren­berg too much. And quite right so. This would main­ly increase the risk for frus­tra­ti­on. Nevert­hel­ess, be pre­pared. The­re might sud­den­ly be an open door.

But of cour­se, most of us here have got this desi­re. And for me, it was this ima­gi­na­ti­on of this peak that made me search for opti­ons some years ago, which resul­tet in the trips with Sig­gi and his boat Auro­ra. So, yes: I want to get up the­re, too.
Today might be the day. Ever­y­thing is loo­king good, start­ing with the wea­ther fore­cast. It is sup­po­sed to be most­ly calm for seve­ral days, and the low cloud lay­er that is cove­ring Jan May­en should give way to the blue sky as soon as one has rea­ched an alti­tu­de of some hundred met­res, accor­ding to the Nor­we­gi­an meteo­ro­lo­gists. This could be our win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty, our gol­den moment.

And ever­y­bo­dy in this group who wants to join the climb is fit and expe­ri­en­ced. There’s eight of us who dream of the Bee­ren­berg sum­mit. All of us have got simi­lar expe­ri­ence from arc­tic or alpi­ne envi­ron­ments. You should not unde­re­sti­ma­te Bee­ren­berg. The distances, the alti­tu­de, the ter­rain … it is easy to think, it can’t be much of a pro­blem, I have been to 3000 met­res in the Alps. No, Bee­ren­berg is more deman­ding, alt­hough 2277 met­res don’t sound like much.

We have got yet ano­ther advan­ta­ge: sta­ti­on com­man­der Viggo, who would love to join us if duty was not cal­ling else­whe­re, offers us a very wel­co­me ride to the north lagoon, which saves us from a hike of 13 kilo­me­t­res with full lug­ga­ge, saving important ener­gy reser­ves that we will need later. Not a big deal for Viggo, but a huge advan­ta­ge for us, that we could never have asked or hoped for – such are the rules here.


Jan May­en

Admit­ted­ly, a crossing 3.5 days is a new nega­ti­ve record. Three days would have been nor­mal, and even less with a bit of luck.

But for the moment ever­y­bo­dy seems to be hap­py to have solid ground under their feet again. Soon ever­y­thing is on shore and car­ri­ed up the black sand beach, tents are put up and slee­ping bags rol­led out. We have cho­sen the per­fect moment for our landing, as it turns out: as soon as the tents are more or less stan­ding, strong gusts are fal­ling from the lava-black, moss-green, fog-grey moun­ta­ins, so we hur­ry up to car­ry tons of stones and drift­wood beams tog­e­ther to secu­re ever­y­thing.

Then the wind is cal­ming down again, and after some refresh­ments ever­y­bo­dy is going for some explo­ra­ti­on, some first litt­le excur­si­ons into this new envi­ron­ment. Actual­ly, Jan May­en can make a rather inhos­pi­ta­ble first impres­si­on, with low clouds as today. With Kval­ros­sen, we have got a nice moun­tain right next door, with some impres­si­ve coas­tal rock stacks, and this migh­ty beach Hau­gen­st­ran­da with its end­less amounts of drift­wood. More than enough stuff to wan­der and drift around with feet, eyes, thoughts and came­ra for a while.

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

Later, the Nor­we­gi­an sta­ti­on com­man­der shows up. He also brings their nur­se, just in case, pro­ba­b­ly. Viggo is air force office and sur­pri­ses us plea­sant­ly with his ener­ge­tic cha­rac­ter. Not too long befo­re he gets a chain­saw out to cut some fire­wood for us, and he has also brought got some goo­dies to eat and to drink – a pro­mi­sing start for a very fine neigh­bour­hood!

Some­whe­re in the midd­le of nowhe­re bet­ween Ice­land and Jan May­en

We left Isaf­jör­dur on Mon­day evening, and today it is … let me think … Thurs­day. Had the wind been a bit more fri­end­ly, we should see Jan May­en now, but as it was, we still have about 150 nau­ti­cal miles bet­ween us and the island. The wind was not too strong (that was the good news), but exact­ly against us (that was the bad news). That did not make us fas­ter or life on board more com­for­ta­ble.

So 3 days will soon have gone. On the first day, the fee­ling of latent sea­sick­ness was never far away, and I was hap­py that I had alre­a­dy got some warm-up exer­cise on SV Anti­gua some weeks ago. Others who did not enjoy this advan­ta­ge, have … – no, no fur­ther details.

The wind has cal­med down con­sider­a­b­ly last night, and our speed has increased. Jan May­en is get­ting clo­ser and sea sick­ness seems to be a mat­ter of the past for the moment. Break­fast is cer­tain­ly enjoy­ing increased popu­la­ri­ty today.

As nobo­dy can tell when peo­p­le are able and wil­ling to eat some­thing, the­re are no set times for meals here at sea. When­ever you feel hun­gry, you go and get some­thing. Bread and Müs­li are always available, and in the after­noon Sig­gi is pre­pa­ring some­thing hot, which in the last two days invol­ved pas­ta and red sau­ce, a hear­ty mee­ting of Ita­ly and Mexi­co, good stuff. But as ever­y­bo­dy comes (or not) when he or she feels like it, you don’t real­ly meet peo­p­le the­se days. Some lea­ve their bunks only when they real­ly can’t avo­id it. Shared acti­vi­ties around the table are not an opti­on, emer­gen­cy exits need to be available for almost ever­yo­ne at any time. You don’t want to play cards with a bucket on the table, serious­ly. So at the moment ever­y­bo­dy is living a life on his own, enjoy­ing or suf­fe­ring, rea­ding, lis­tening to some music or a con­ver­sa­ti­on here and the­re. Sail­or Franz (we know him from Arc­ti­ca II, last August) spends most of the time on the stee­ring wheel. Other than that, the who­le spec­trum is repre­sen­ted. From a young Ame­ri­can cou­ple who didn’t know that Jan May­en exis­ted until they met Sig­gi a cou­ple of years ago to a Ger­man who has a map of Jan May­en on the wall sin­ce he was 12. So for some a long-time dream will come true now.

Enough for now. Con­side­ring that not much has hap­pen­ed so far, I have actual­ly writ­ten a lot.

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

I won’t take the lap­top ashore on Jan May­en, so most likely the­re will be silence for a good week. We will see. Fin­gers crossed.


10 short days later – warm­ing up under the sun of Sax­o­ny and get­ting rea­dy befo­re depar­tu­re today to Ice­land. Hard to belie­ve while I am sit­ting in tro­pi­cal suns­hi­ne even here in Reykja­vik that one of the poten­ti­al­ly toug­hest trips of the sea­son is just about to start. Tomor­row we will start in Isaf­jör­dur with Sigurður Jóns­son and his good polar-pro­of boat Auro­ra to Jan May­en. Three days at open sea, but the wea­ther fore­cast looks quite ok, and the sea should be reason­ab­ly calm.

I am high­ly curious what the next days will bring. I do cer­tain­ly have respect: the days on a small boat across a big, very open sea, the wild island Jan May­en and the many kilo­me­t­res that we will hike the­re … will we have the wea­ther to climb Bee­ren­berg? We will see. It will defi­ni­te­ly be exci­ting and beau­tiful in any case. I am loo­king for­ward to the migh­ty bea­ches cover­ed with immense amounts of drift­wood, bizar­re vol­ca­nic land­scapes, colourful mos­ses and lichens on black lava rocks …

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

I will pro­ba­b­ly not be able to send pho­tos to the blog from the trip befo­re I am back in Ice­land in 2 weeks, as the satel­li­te-based mail soft­ware does not sup­port attach­ments at the time being. But that will come in late June. And on Jan May­en, I won’t spend a lot of time with the lap­top any­way!

Isfjord, Lon­gye­ar­by­en

This final day show­ed that win­ter still had the land in Isfjord in its firm grip, more so than fur­ther south. In Bell­sund, we had enjoy­ed easy walks over snow-free tun­dra and even the views of some first, ear­ly flowers (Pur­ple saxif­ra­ge). Here in Isfjord, the land is lar­ge­ly under deep snow down to sea level. And whe­re the tun­dra is snow-free, the­re are most­ly birds sit­ting – good reasons to keep excur­si­ons short at the time being. Nevert­hel­ess, very plea­sant stays on the arc­tic tun­dra and good round views over outer Isfjord.

It was not exact­ly a com­ple­te sur­pri­se that the­re was still a lot of ice in the bays, so we had to make do with views of a con­sidera­ble distance of the gla­cier front in Bore­buk­ta. But who cared after ever­y­thing that the last days had given us?

After a final, short crossing of Isfjord, we went along­side in the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en and thus finis­hed the trip. Well, not yet – the swell was quite unp­lea­sant, so soon we moved out again and drop­ped the anchor once more. Then it was time for a warm fare­well with ever­y­bo­dy.

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

To my gre­at plea­su­re, a lar­ge deli­very of books also finis­hed its trip on this day when it was moved onto dry arc­tic ground in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Always a gre­at and important event! I’d like to thank ever­y­bo­dy who has given a hand with the books on their way from nor­the­as­tern Ger­ma­ny to Lon­gye­ar­by­en!

Prins Karls For­land, Barents­burg

Today it was time to make fri­ends with some of Spitsbergen’s inha­bi­tants. We did so on Prins Karls For­land and in Barents­burg.

The For­lands­und was at home. Quite lazy, but one impres­si­ve wal­rus came slow­ly rol­ling out of the water, fee­ding the eyes and len­ses of hap­py tou­rists.

Barents­burg tur­ned out to be not just a strong visu­al con­trast, but also a very infor­ma­ti­ve les­son about Spits­ber­gen histo­ry and poli­tics. And a chan­ce to tas­te the local beer. To a good trip – na sda­rowje!

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


The pho­tos may speak for them­sel­ves. We did not have so many impres­si­ons of the diver­si­ty of this high arc­tic land so far, so it was time to catch up with some landings. A gla­cier, a lagoon with ice floes dri­ven by tidal curr­ents, tun­dra, sun abo­ve the blue sea.

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

But it was a slow start into this part of the day, after the polar bear visit in the ear­ly mor­ning.

Van Keu­len­fjord

Van Keu­len­fjord tur­ned out to be a tre­asu­re cham­ber of arc­tic impres­si­ons. Of cour­se, it was good to step out on solid ground again. Real arc­tic soil, per­ma­frost-based tun­dra. But what fol­lo­wed later will defi­ni­te­ly remain a tre­asu­red memo­ry well bey­ond this sum­mer.

Fur­ther in, the fjord was still fro­zen solid. Four polar beas were visi­ble in the distance, a mother with two cubs and a sin­gle bear, all res­t­ing at times and moving at others, even mee­ting occa­sio­nal­ly. All in a distance that redu­ced them to litt­le yel­low dots for us. Mean­while, a group of Belugas came into sight, with an excep­tio­nal high pro­por­ti­on of young ani­mals, distin­gu­is­ha­ble by their dark grey colour.

We had the good idea to moor the Anti­gua at the fast ice edge during the night. That is one of the beau­ties of tra­vel­ling with a sai­ling ship: you are not always in a rush. Some­ti­mes you have time, the most important thing during tra­vel­ling (and other­wi­se in life). We do not fol­low sche­du­les, we take oppor­tu­ni­ties. The wea­ther was fine, wild­life within view. So we did not save any cost or effort but went out to find a sui­ta­ble pie­ce of drift­wood, which was then put through a hole in the ice with gre­at enthu­si­asm by Cap­tain Joa­chim and some hel­ping hands. A rope bet­ween the drift­wood log and Anti­gua would keep the ship in posi­ti­on for some hours wit­hout wind. The self­ma­de port was rea­dy, and we could enjoy the evening.

The night was short. Around 4 a.m., the polar bear fami­ly deci­ded to visit this stran­ge ice­berg which had appeared at the ice edge. The two second year cubs, 1.5 years old, were as curious as polar bears can be. The wal­ked on the ice around the bow of the ship and stood up on their hind legs to get bet­ter views of us. They were biting into the ropes, which may have smel­led from many sail­ors’ hands which have hand­led them over years and many ports whe­re they have fixed Anti­gua to the pier.

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

No need to men­ti­on that this was an unfor­gettable expe­ri­ence ☺


News-Listing live generated at 2024/April/18 at 17:07:18 Uhr (GMT+1)