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Home → July, 2015

Monthly Archives: July 2015 − Travelblog

Wal­rus­ses, ice and curr­ents – 30th July 2015

An incre­di­ble day. It star­ted quite ear­ly in den­se fog and with a group of wal­rus­ses, who were in good shape and pret­ty acti­ve. It con­tin­ued in fog and with more and more ice. The ice stay­ed, the fog went, and so we con­tin­ued through an extre­me­ly plea­sant after­noon, crui­sing under a bright sun through the most beau­tiful ice, wat­ching seals and birds. Pure high arc­tic.

Then the­re was the ques­ti­on if it would be pos­si­ble to pass through Heley­sund. Wat­ching the fields of drift ice, which were get­ting lar­ger and lar­ger and den­ser and den­ser, one would hard­ly have pla­ced a bet on a suc­cessful pas­sa­ge. But wait and see. The cur­rent increased, and final­ly we had rea­ched a point whe­re a return would have been dif­fi­cult and then even impos­si­ble. Unfort­u­na­te­ly I can’t send a video at this time (later!), and it is hard to descri­be this pas­sa­ge. A rol­ler­co­as­ter ride in strong curr­ents, tog­e­ther with a lar­ge field of drift ice. The indi­vi­du­al ice floes were all drif­ting here and the­re and ever­y­whe­re, pure cha­os. Skip­per Pål maneou­vred fran­ti­cal­ly, try­ing not to bump too much into ice, but that was hard to avo­id. Lucki­ly, the Arc­ti­ca II is built to take some bea­ting in the ice. Any other sai­ling boat with a hull made from any other mate­ri­al than good, strong steel would have been crus­hed to pie­ces. The views of the near­by ice­f­loes see­med to indi­ca­te a tur­bu­lent, but sta­tio­na­ry posi­ti­on, a look towards the rocky shores made clear that we were actual­ly drif­ting with some ama­zing speed, far bey­ond the capa­bi­li­ty of the engi­ne alo­ne.

Gal­lery Wal­rus­ses, ice and curr­ents – 30th July 2015

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

Now we are through, a very impres­si­ve expe­ri­ence richer, and loo­king for­ward to a calm ancho­ra­ge, a litt­le late evening walk on Barent­søya, and defi­ni­te­ly some hours og good sleep.

Lom­fjord & Hin­lo­pen – 29th July 2015

Yes, good wea­ther, that’s what we want and what we need. The wind had lar­ge­ly cal­med down and even the sun was coming out at times. So on we went, with sand­wi­ches and ther­mos bot­t­les, into the tun­dra and up the moun­ta­ins. Gre­at views of the land­scape near and far, bizar­re shapes of wea­the­ring snow on the banks of litt­le rivers, ptar­mi­gans and reinde­er, flowers and erra­tic bould­ers, lar­ge val­leys with gla­ciers and morai­nes. Six hours exact­ly as we want them.

Pho­to Faks­eva­gen – 29th Juli 2015 – 1/2


Hin­lo­pen Strait its­elf, howe­ver, is less hos­pi­ta­ble, but bet­ter than yes­ter­day, less wind. And the lively acti­vi­ty of hundred thou­sands of Brünich’s guil­l­emots at Alkef­jel­let is always extre­me­ly impres­si­ve, also when the sky is grey.

Pho­to Faks­eva­gen – 29th Juli 2015 – 2/2


Now we are curious about the near future. We have good hopes for less wind, wal­rus­ses, a visit to the gre­at ice cap of Nord­aus­t­land and drift ice. Enough to be inte­res­t­ing, but not too much, so we may suc­cessful­ly sail into Storfjord, the most important step to turn this trip into a cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ti­on of the main island of Spits­ber­gen.

Pho­to Alkef­jel­let – 29th Juli 2015


Wind & Ice – 28th July 2015

It is as if someone had pushed a but­ton in the wea­ther sys­tem of the far north some days ago. After the calm weeks that we had until mid July, we have now got the second peri­od with strong winds in Spits­ber­gen. The first one wasn’t much of a bother to us, as we had spent some very enjoya­ble days in the shel­ter of inner Kongsfjord, as the rea­der may remem­ber. Right now, we have heard that a full-grown storm is raging around Sør­kapp (the south cape), and sai­ling boats wait in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for the wind to calm down befo­re they lea­ve.

Last night, the anchor was drag­ging in Murch­ison­fjord, Arc­ti­ca II was vigo­rous­ly pul­ling on the chain in the gusts. It was kind of ok until the mor­ning, but it was clear that this was no place to spend more time than neces­sa­ry. A bay that pro­vi­des shel­ter not only from the sea but also from the wind, that would be good now.

Pho­to Hin­lo­pen – 28th July 2015


Addi­tio­nal­ly, we have got the infor­ma­ti­on that the­re is move­ment in the ice off the eas­tern tip of Spits­ber­gen. So far, the pas­sa­ge from sou­thern Hin­lo­pen to Heley­sund had been blo­cked by den­se drift ice, but now it seems to be open. This pas­sa­ge is not very long, but curr­ent­ly the cru­cial bit with regards to a poten­ti­al cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ti­on of Spits­ber­gen. Now we are half-way through the voya­ge, time-wise. If we want to sail around Spits­ber­gen, then we have to keep an eye on time.

Pho­to Faks­eva­gen – 28th July 2015


Enough reasons altog­e­ther to lea­ve Murch­ison­fjord and set cour­se sou­thwards in Hin­lo­pen Strait, even if that invol­ves rough sea for a cou­ple of hours. But not for too long. It was nice to walk on solid tun­dra ground later in Lom­fjord.

Murch­ison­fjord – 27th July 2015

Inner Murch­ison­fjord is teasing with its wide-open land­scapes, bar­ren but then so rich in detail, and the vici­ni­ty of the inland ice. So we went out, equip­ped with ther­mos bot­t­les and sand­wi­ches, fol­lo­wing litt­le val­leys inland. A moon land­scape, but so colourful, may­be rather a Mars land­scape? Pre­cam­bri­an colours turn some of the hills deep­ly red. Thanks to the stroma­to­li­thes, who initi­al­ly pro­du­ced all that free oxy­gen.

Pho­to Trioda­len – 27th July 2015 – 1/2


Even the rivers seem to hide from the harsh cli­ma­te some­ti­mes, as they build some beau­tiful snow bridges and tun­nels. Good views of the inland ice, Ves­t­fon­na. Only the begin­ning des­truc­tion of a hiking boot keeps us from wal­king the last bit to the ice. But to app­re­cia­te the great­ness of a moun­tain (or ice cap), you have to keep a distance any­way.

Pho­to Trioda­len – 27th July 2015 – 2/2


And seven hours of fresh air don’t lea­ve much to be desi­red. The­re is ple­nty of fresh air today, the air seems to be in a rush. We hide in a small side bay with the boat, try­ing to get a litt­le bit out of the wind. The ropes are ban­ging against the mast, making a lost of noi­se, and the anchor is audi­bly working to keep Arc­ti­ca II in posi­ti­on. Hop­eful­ly the wind goes down a bit.

Pho­to Far­gefjel­let – 27th July 2015 – 1/2


Mos­sel­buk­ta – 26th July 2015

In inner Mos­sel­buk­ta, the land­scape does not real­ly know if it wants to be land or sea. A num­ber of bea­ches sepa­ra­te smal­ler and lar­ger lagoons, pen­in­su­las reach out into the bay, a num­ber of litt­le rivers is run­ning across the tun­dra. It is nice to hike in this diver­se and varied envi­ron­ment. Remains of an old hut show whe­re Rus­si­an hun­ters used to live cen­tu­ries ago, two gra­ves show that not all of them made it back home.

Pho­to Mos­sel­buk­ta – 26th Juli 2015 – 1/3


We found remains of woo­den ship wrecks near the shore. May­be from the cata­stro­phic win­ter in 1872-73, when the famous Swe­dish explo­rer Adolf Erik Nor­dens­ki­öld win­tered in Mos­sel­buk­ta? His ship was also forced to win­ter, as an ear­ly win­ter storm pushed ice into the bay. The ship made it well through the win­ter, but other ones that were also trap­ped were cra­s­hed and lost. The win­ter storms can be bru­tal here, as the immense amounts of drift­wood make clear. The­re are also immense amounts of pla­s­tic rub­bish, con­stant­ly coming in over long distances with sea curr­ents, unfort­u­na­te­ly. Mos­sel­buk­ta is defi­ni­te­ly on the list for a clean-up.

But away from the pla­s­tic, the­re is so much beau­ty on the­se coasts. Oyster­leaf is flowe­ring, pro­tec­ted by some lar­ge drift­wood logs.

Pho­to Mos­sel­buk­ta – 26th Juli 2015 – 2/3


Later in the day: fish soup with fresh, local­ly caught arc­tic char, the crossing of 80 degrees, roun­ding Ver­le­gen­hu­ken and crossing nor­t­hern Hin­lo­pen Strait towards Nord­aus­t­land, some­thing that does invol­ve some rock and roll as the­re is a bit of wind against us.

Pho­to Mos­sel­buk­ta – 26th Juli 2015 – 3/3


Later, Murch­ison­fjord brought shel­ter from wind and waves and a love­ly late evening walk in the polar desert of Nord­aus­t­land in the most beau­tiful evening light.

Pho­to Kval­ross­hal­voya – 26. Juli 2015


Land of polar bear and wha­lers – 25th July 2015

While con­ti­nuing fur­ther nor­thwest, we dis­co­ver­ed ano­ther fema­le polar bear which was wal­king over some small islands in Fuglefjord. This is good polar bear coun­try at the time being, always some­thing going on.

Foto Fug­le­hol­ma­ne – 25. Juli 2015


Loo­king for remains of 17th cen­tu­ry wha­ling sta­ti­ons that are less well known and not as fre­quent­ly visi­ted as Smee­ren­burg, I quick­ly che­cked two small, but pro­mi­sing islands. Howe­ver, they tur­ned out to be less pro­duc­ti­ve, from a wha­ling histo­ry point of view, than I had been hoping for. So we rea­li­zed plan A, which meant Ind­re Nor­skøya. Still quite unknown, which is good. This trip is „advan­ced Spits­ber­gen“, so we have to find some places which not ever­y­bo­dy has alre­a­dy been to.

Foto Ind­re Nor­skoya – 25. Juli 2015


Which does not mean that visi­ting well-known places is not an opti­on. Of cour­se, we have got some Chris­tia­ne Rit­ter fans on board, so we made a litt­le detour to Gråhu­ken. The oppor­tu­ni­ty is good, given the very calm sea that we have got here today, and a late after­noon walk is a very wel­co­me oppor­tu­ni­ty to break up the long trip to the east. Espe­ci­al­ly as we con­tin­ued the walk to the nor­t­hern­most tip of Andrée Land, Gråhuk­pyn­ten, whe­re the coas­tal flat is ending in lagoons and nice­ly struc­tu­red rocky out­crops. And as we rea­ched the shore, skip­per Pål had alre­a­dy caught seve­ral fresh, nice arc­tic char J (simi­lar to sal­mon).

Nor­thwards – 24th July 2015

Now it was get­ting time to move nor­thwards. The wind was not com­ple­te­ly gone, but it had cal­med down con­sider­a­b­ly, com­pared to two days ago, when we had tur­ned into Kross­fjord rather than going out. But the­re was still some sea and wind going, so some stay­ed out­side, others insi­de, all enjoy­ed the views of the coast, slept a bit, read, and ever­y­bo­dy was loo­king for­ward to shel­te­red waters, which were to come in just a few hours.

Pho­to – Nor­thwards – 24th July 2015 – 1/3


We pas­sed the slight­ly smal­ler sis­ter ship Arc­ti­ca I and exch­an­ged some goods, an inte­res­t­ing ope­ra­ti­on at open, modera­te­ly rough sea. With a rope and water­pro­of bags, we got some rea­ding mate­ri­al for our skip­per and black tea, while pea­nut but­ter went the oppo­si­te way.

The pas­sa­ge south of Dan­s­køya brought the first polar bear sight­ing of the trip. A litt­le fami­ly, mother with cub of the year, about seven months old.

Pho­to – Nor­thwards – 24th July 2015 – 2/3


Now the anchor is down on the bot­tom in Vir­go­ham­na, and it is calm around the ship and on board. The arc­tic aero­nauts Andrée and Well­man add some his­to­ri­cal fla­vour to the day, in theo­ry in here and out­side.

Pho­to – Nor­thwards – 24th July 2015 – 3/3


The polar fox that did obvious­ly not care about pro­tec­ting cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge, wal­king straight across the remain from Wellman’s acti­vi­ties, was defi­ni­te­ly a high­light.

Kongsfjord III – 23rd July 2015

All good things are three­fold (I am sure that doesn’t trans­la­te, but that is what the Ger­man ori­gi­nal says), so we spent a third day in Kongsfjord. Well, it wasn’t quite like that. In Kross­fjord, it was so win­dy that we quick­ly deci­ded to return to Kongsfjord, whe­re it is curr­ent­ly cal­mer. So we went to Ny Lon­don on Blom­strand­hal­vøya to have a look at the old marb­le mine with the huts, steam drill, quar­ry and loa­ding cra­ne. Nice to see how natu­re is taking her ter­rain back again slow­ly. Flowers are gro­wing through holes in the old ste­al machi­nery, like the the Dro­o­ping saxif­ra­ge.

Pho­to – Kongsfjord III – 23rd July 2015 – 1/3


Later we also went for the hike to the top of Blom­strand. Fine views of the famous Kongsfjord pan­ora­ma, and a very acti­ve gla­cier cave in Blom­strand­breen. Con­stant­ly fal­ling ice and thun­der pro­vi­ded excel­lent enter­tain­ment while we had a rest on the peak.

Pho­to – Kongsfjord III – 23rd July 2015 – 2/3


Com­ple­te silence now on the boat, it is calm out­side, ice­bergs drif­ting ever­y­whe­re. Tomor­row, the wind should also calm down at sea, so we can con­ti­nue nor­thwards.

Pho­to – Kongsfjord III – 23rd July 2015 – 3/3


Kongsfjord II – 22nd July 2015

Ossi­an Sars­fjel­let has got more to offer than a bird cliff and flowers. On the eas­tern side, it has some impres­si­ve gla­ciers in the direct neigh­bour­hood, and as it is not far to that side, we went for a hike acros Ossi­an Sars­fjel­let, over tun­dra and rocky washout plains, stop­ping whe­re we saw some reinde­er, and then up a morain ridge, behind which we rea­ched a gre­at pan­ora­ma plat­form in shape of a gla­cier-polished marb­le sur­face.

Pho­to Ossi­an Sars­fjel­let – 22nd Juli 2015 – 1/2


Count­less small folds and faults, with very clear gla­cial stria­ti­on, this alo­ne would be a remar­kab­le site and cer­tain­ly under pro­tec­tion any­whe­re near civi­liza­ti­on. But then the­re was the view over the gla­cier-framed bay Rød­vi­ka with ice cliffs forming lar­ge parts of the shore and wide ice fields in back coun­try.

Pho­to Ossi­an Sars­fjel­let – 22nd Juli 2015 – 2/2


After a litt­le, sun­ny crui­se along ice­bergs and gla­ciers in inner­most Kongsfjord, we deci­ded to have a look at the outer coast as we want to get fur­ther north at some stage. But as it tur­ned out, the­re was a strong bree­ze blo­wing at open sea, tur­ning many waves white, so we deci­ded to chan­ge cour­se and spend a day in Kross­fjord, which should be shel­te­red.

Pho­to Kongsfjord – 22nd Juli 2015


Kongsfjord – 21st July 2015

What a day. Long, full and beau­tiful. And as it is time to finish it, this blog ent­ry won’t be ter­ri­bly long.

The sce­ne for the day is not unknown. Kongsfjord is a clas­sic, espe­ci­al­ly Ny Åle­sund will be known to many, if not all, rea­ders. It is, howe­ver, less com­mon to lea­ve the town with a hike into the fjord, rather than a walk to the har­bour. The coas­tal tun­dra plains near Ny Åle­sund are very invi­ting for some good walks.

Pho­to Kongsfjord – 21st Juli 2015


The gla­ciers in Kongsfjord must have been very acti­ve recent­ly. It has been quite warm the last days, the arc­tic sum­mer is at its peak. The­re is a lot of gla­cier ice drif­ting in the water.

Pho­to Ossi­an Sars­fjel­let – 21st Juli 2015 – 1/2


The arc­tic flowers are in their busie­st sea­son. The vege­ta­ti­on is strong and ple­ntyful here in inner Kongsfjord, with flowers in many colours.

Pho­to Ossi­an Sars­fjel­let – 21st Juli 2015 – 2/2


Also the sea­birds are in their peak brea­ding sea­son. Brünich’s guil­l­emots and kit­ti­wa­kes are taking care of their chicks. The­re is an immense level of acti­vi­ty in the steep bree­ding cliffs.

Now we are calm­ly ancho­red, enjoy­ing the evening with its beau­tiful light that is get­ting warm again, as late July isn’t far any­mo­re.

Prins Karls For­land – 20. Juli 2015

Small ships and boats nor­mal­ly stay bet­ween Spits­ber­gen and Prins Karls For­land, kee­ping to the bet­ter shel­te­red waters of For­lands­und rather than the expo­sed west coast of Prins Karls For­land, whe­re the sea can be roug­her. So tho­se who can stay insi­de, and tho­se who stay out­side usual­ly do so becau­se they don’t have any other choice. That is the big­ger ships with too much draft for the shal­low part in the nor­t­hern For­lands­und.

Con­side­ring the good wea­ther and calm seas that we had, we deci­ded, howe­ver, to head for the west coast of Prins Karls For­land any­way, taking the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty of a clo­ser inspec­tion of the outer side of the island. First of all, it was time to catch some sleep when the anchor went down near Ait­kenod­den last night, befo­re we went ashore the­re today. Untouch­ed natu­re, almost nobo­dy is going the­re. Most ships don’t have time to stop at a place like this, and if you have time, you will usual­ly stay in For­lands­und. Bet­ter shel­ter. But today it was sim­ply an oppor­tu­ni­ty too good to be missed. Advan­ced Spits­ber­gen. Stay­ing away from the trod­den path.

The­re is an old trap­per hut at Ait­kenod­den, near a lake cal­led Nesun­gen. The hut was built in 1909, now it is just a ruin, but in scenic sur­roun­dings, a wide coas­tal plain with small bays and rocky out­crops along the shore­li­ne.

Pho­to Ves­t­flya – 20th Juli 2015


After a bit of sight­see­ing near the hut, we ven­tu­red across the flat tun­dra away from the coast. Dry moss and lichen tun­dra ever­y­whe­re, and flat rid­ges of expo­sed shist. A reinde­er mother and her calf kept a careful distance while working their way in a cir­cle around us. After a rest, we clim­bed up Per­sis­kam­men which rea­ches an ele­va­ti­on of 334 met­res abo­ve the sea. High enough for gre­at views over the tun­dra and the coas­tal land­scape, both very rich in detail and struc­tu­re despi­te of being flat. We took a long rest at a cairn mar­king the hig­hest point, rela­xing in the sun which was shi­ning from the blue arc­tic sky with an ama­zing strength, befo­re des­cen­ding to the eas­tern side of the island. Mean­while, Pål had lifted anchor and gone around the sou­thern point of Prins Karls For­land to meet us here in Sand­buk­ta, so we all met the­re again after a love­ly long hike, inclu­ding the rare oppor­tu­ni­ties to climb the iso­la­ted sou­thern moun­tain on Prins Karls For­land and crossing the island at the same time.

Pho­to Per­sis­kam­men – 20th Juli 2015


After a quick jump into the water to get fresh again, we con­tin­ued nor­thwards. We saw about 10 wal­rus­ses lazi­ly lying in the sun while pas­sing Poo­le­pyn­ten and enjoy­ed sun­ny views of the moun­ta­ins and gla­ciers to both sides of For­lands­und while hea­ding towards Kongsfjord.

Advan­ced Spits­ber­gen: Arc­ti­ca II – 19th Juli 2015

So far, it has been a gre­at sea­son, and we are about to con­ti­nue on a high level. A few hours ago we left Lon­gye­ar­by­en with Arc­ti­ca II. Twel­ve peo­p­le inclu­ding skip­per Pål from Lon­gye­ar­by­en and me on a robust 60 foot sai­ling boat to expe­ri­ence Spits­ber­gen in-depth, inclu­ding remo­te places off the trod­den path. All are very eager and curious what the next 18 days will bring. It will be inten­se, that is for sure. With a light eas­ter­ly bree­ze, we are now steam­ing through Isfjord towards the west coast to find an ancho­ra­ge for the first night.

Pho­to Advent­fjord – 19th Juli 2015


Pyra­mi­den – 16th Juli 2015

No Spits­ber­gen-trip would be com­ple­te wit­hout a visit to one of the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments, so we were in Pyra­mi­den today. Again, luck with the wea­ther: last night, we engi­ned against strong wind into Bil­lefjord, rain and sleet around mid­night, and as we star­ted our excur­si­on today – suns­hi­ne! Someone here seems to have excel­lent con­nec­tions to the hig­hest places.

So we could spend some very plea­sant hours with various, con­trast-rich impres­si­ons in the old ghost town. And as it tur­ned grey and wet again around noon, it just made the tea and other goo­dies in the bar in hotel Tuli­pan tas­te even bet­ter.

The wind in Bil­lefjord was not as strong any­mo­re as yes­ter­day, but enough to let us sail all the way to the ent­rance of Advent­fjord wit­hout the engi­ne. A nice, calm roun­dup for a very rich, inten­se Spits­ber­gen-trip, which was an impres­si­ve exam­p­le for a trip that was gre­at wit­hout having gone around the island alt­hough this had been the initi­al idea. It is the expe­ri­ence that counts, and that lea­ves not­hing to be desi­red. Add good atmo­sphe­re among­st pas­sen­gers and crew, and you have got all ingre­di­ents for the per­fect trip.

At the time of wri­ting, Anti­gua has alre­a­dy left Lon­gye­ar­by­en again – and again, under sail. And we are pre­pa­ring to board the local sai­ling yacht Arc­ti­ca II today: advan­ced Spits­ber­gen 2015. This will pro­vi­de ple­nty of stuff for this blog, so keep coming back!

Gal­lery Pyra­mi­den – 16th Juli 2015

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

Final­ly, a big thanks to all par­ti­ci­pan­ts of the Anti­gua-voya­ge and the crew of Cap­tain Joa­chim for a gre­at trip and good spi­rits!

Ekm­anfjord – 15th Juli 2015

Isfjord is Spitsberge’s big­gest fjord. I’d quite like to do a trip once that is just focus­sing on Isfjord. It would be easy to spend a week the­re. The­re is almost ever­y­thing that you might want to see in Spits­ber­gen: a very diver­se land­scape and vege­ta­ti­on, flat tun­dra, nice moun­ta­ins, gla­ciers, wild­life, some very inte­res­t­ing his­to­ri­cal sites …

Our desti­na­ti­on for today was Ekm­anfjord. A wide tun­dra area offe­red as much space for various hikes as anyo­ne might have wan­ted, so we split up into three groups ven­ture out for a rela­xed walk, a hike and a long hike. The tun­dra? A sea of flowers: Pur­ple saxif­ra­ge, Moun­tain avens, Moss cam­pi­on on wide are­as, to men­ti­on just the main eye cat­chers. The moun­ta­ins? Deep pur­ple, gent­ly cur­ved slo­pes of Old Red in the north. Migh­ty steep slo­pes cut into ama­zin­gly regu­lar ero­sio­nal towers in the vici­ni­ty. The sun made the colours shi­ne and the fresh wind was not just a delight, but it also blew the mos­qui­tos away that you might other­wi­se actual­ly have in this tun­dra of the „inner fjord zone“ on a warm sum­mer day.

Gal­lery Ekm­anfjord – 15th Juli 2015

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

A late after­noon visit in Skans­buk­ta brought more bota­ni­cal high­lights inclu­ding the beau­tiful Nor­t­hern Jacob’s lad­der in full flower, a group pho­to and some indi­vi­du­al had been bit­ten by the polar bug so bad­ly that they couldn’t resist the tempt­a­ti­on of a bath in the cold waters of the bay. In the end, the ser­vice crew, chef Sascha, Jana, Nadia and Cla­ra, show­ed what they can actual­ly do and crea­ted a love­ly din­ner and evening to cele­bra­te a gre­at trip that is now coming to an end.

Recher­chefjord – 14th Juli 2015

You can dis­co­ver so much if you just take the time for it. With a small group, we went on a Zodiac trip to explo­re Recher­chefjord in some detail. Start­ing in Calyp­so­by­en, a litt­le aggre­ga­ti­on of old huts whe­re coal occur­ren­ces were inves­ti­ga­ted in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, we met some very fri­end­ly Polish sci­en­tists. Their lea­der Piotr Zagór­ski invi­ted us for some tea and cof­fee and explai­ned their work. Geo­mor­pho­lo­gi­cal fieldwork with some long-term data sets. The gla­ciers in the area are curr­ent­ly shrin­king at a rate of 10 met­res per year, which is a lot for gla­ciers that ter­mi­na­te on land, but are buil­ding up ice in their hig­her rea­ches. May­be pre­pa­ring a sur­ge? Inte­res­t­ing. The acti­ve lay­er is now 1.40 met­res thick, in con­trast to 1.20 met­res as in recent years in avera­ge. The sum­mer has been very warm so far in Bell­sund. At least, it has brought a lot of colourful flowers to the tun­dra.

Pho­to Recher­che­breen – 14th Juli 2015


After a rela­xed pic­nic on a morai­ne hill near Renard­breen (Fox gla­cier), whe­re colourful til­li­tes are silent wit­nesses of a more or less glo­bal gla­cia­ti­on about 600 mil­li­on years ago (snow­ball earth theo­ry), the lagoon at Recher­che­breen was the next tempt­a­ti­on. The oppor­tu­ni­ty was good, the tide high, making the pas­sa­ge into the lagoon easy, while ice­bergs were taking the same chan­nel out at an ama­zing speed with the cur­rent. Once insi­de, we enjoy­ed the views of the ice­bergs and the ice cliff of Recher­che­breen sil­ent­ly for a while. The other group, which came hiking to this lagoon a litt­le while later, even saw Belugas the­re.

Pho­to Calyp­so­by­en – 14th Juli 2015


A very wind-bat­te­red hut on the eas­tern shore of Recher­chefjord is the only lef­to­ver from the attempts of Ernest Mansfield’s Nor­t­hern Explo­ra­ti­on Com­pa­ny to turn the „moun­tain of iron“ into cash. As it tur­ned out, the moun­ta­ins is of rock and not iron. Bad for Mans­field and his Nor­t­hern Explo­ra­ti­on com­pa­ny, which lost a lot of money the­re in 1918-19. Good for the tun­dra, which is flowe­ring near the hut in the most beau­tiful colours.


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