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Home → September, 2015

Monthly Archives: September 2015 − Travelblog


From Raudfjord to Krossfjord – 29th Sep­tem­ber 2015

Final­ly with Zodiacs into inner Hamil­ton­buk­ta, haven’t been the­re for a while! And things the­re have chan­ged, mea­ning the gla­ciers have retrea­ted con­si­der­ab­ly. I have to find some old pho­tos to com­pa­re. A lot of rocks now whe­re the­re used to be gla­ciers 10 years ago.

Hamil­ton­buk­ta 29th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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This doesn’t mean that it is not nice any­mo­re. Qui­te the oppo­si­te, the gla­ciers are still stun­nin­gly beau­ti­ful. A lot of ice drif­ting in the bay. And on the­se small islands, you can still enjoy life in gene­ral and the beau­ty of the sce­ne­ry. Very nice.

The next low pres­su­re was alrea­dy on the way. We had deci­ded to make a quick jump down to Kongsfjord, esca­ping befo­re desas­ter would strike. A swift crui­se through Nord­ves­tøya­ne and Smee­ren­burgfjord. Watching the baro­me­ter was inte­res­ting. In 3 days, it had drop­ped by 54 hPa. A simi­lar drop on the finan­cial mar­kets would send shock­wa­ves around the glo­bes. But this was only the baro­me­ter.

Hamil­ton­buk­ta 29th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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The­re was qui­te a bit of swell off the coast, swell from hell, that was not so gre­at, and some were not seen for a cou­p­le of hours. But at least, final­ly the nort­hern wind came and up went the sails, making the move­ment more sta­ble and com­for­ta­ble. In the late evening, we reached Krossfjord and a rea­son­ab­ly well shel­te­red ancho­ra­ge.

The nor­thwest shows off, part II – 28th Sep­tem­ber 2015

As men­tio­ned, this was not all this day should bring. We were thin­king about a litt­le late after­noon lan­ding, hoping to find a rea­son­ab­ly shel­te­red spot. We for­got about that quick­ly. The wind was one aspect. Admit­ted­ly, when I saw the wind blowing out of the bay and on to the shore of our envi­sa­ged lan­ding site, I was alrea­dy thin­king how to get out of it again. But that was not even necessa­ry. Sud­den­ly a polar bear was seen wal­king on the slo­pe not far from the place and that attrac­ted of cour­se ever­y­bo­dies atten­ti­on. It wal­ked along the coast, we inde­ed a lone­so­me wal­rus was lying, pas­sing it wit­hin a few metres initi­al­ly without paying atten­ti­on (is it real­ly pos­si­ble that he was not awa­re of it to begin with?). Then he reco­gni­zed it, made some steps towards it, pro­bab­ly hoping for a big meal, but the wal­rus demons­tra­ted with a quick move­ment of its migh­ty tusks that this might be a bad idea.

Pho­to Fla­thu­ken 28th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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The bear con­ti­nued and it was kind enough to do so in an area whe­re Joa­chim could mane­ouvre the Anti­gua rea­son­ab­ly clo­se to the shore. It was cer­tain­ly clo­se enough for me, other­wi­se I would have had to remo­ve the tele con­ver­ter … the final high­light of the day was a stun­ning set of sun­set colours abo­ve an ama­zing sce­ne­ry. So now the day is over. The second day of the trip, and it could not have been bet­ter!

Pho­to Raudfjord 28th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Now we are curious about tomor­row. Even more wind is expec­ted – we shall see.

The nor­thwest shows off, part I – 28th Sep­tem­ber 2015

As men­tio­ned befo­re, we were curious what the day would bring. Essen­ti­al­ly, we were pre­pa­red for a lot of wind. Which we got. And a lot more.

We had done the who­le stretch from sou­thern For­landsund to the nor­thwest during the night under sails, nice­ly with the squa­res, calm and no strong lis­ting, very plea­sant.

Pho­to Virgo­ham­na 28th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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Con­si­de­ring the strong sou­ther­ly wind, Virgo­ham­na was a natu­ral choice. Star­ting with tel­ling the rele­vant sto­ries the­re in some details, other­wi­se all you see the­re is a pile of rub­bish. With the sto­ries of the expe­di­ti­ons of Andrée and Well­man on your mind, it is sud­den­ly a Mek­ka of polar histo­ry. Also some har­bour seals were pre­sent.

Oppo­si­te in Smee­ren­burg, a group of wal­rus­ses were hau­led out on the beach, but the wind did not lea­ve a chan­ce for a lan­ding. We had to make do with a rea­son­ab­ly clo­se pas­sa­ge by ship, which tur­ned out to be fine.

Pho­to Virgo­ham­na 28th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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Then, we con­ti­nued into Fuglefjord. Grand pan­ora­ma, moun­tains, gla­ciers. Spits­ber­gen has got its name for a rea­son, this beca­me clear again here.

Svit­jod­breen has retrea­ted stron­gly in recent years. A rock that came out under the gla­cier some years ago is now an island. First mate Moritz was so kind to put me ashore for a moment to take a 360 degree pan­ora­ma pho­to – may­be I am the first one to have set foot on the island? You should never say or even think that you are the first one to have done some­thing in Spits­ber­gen. The­re has always been someo­ne who was ear­lier out, it won’t be any dif­fe­rent here. But the pos­si­bi­li­ty as such is a nice thought.

Pho­to Fuglefjord 28th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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But that was not the point. Taking the 360 degree pan­ora­ma was the thing for me. To the delight of ever­y­bo­dy on board, as they had me for sca­le on the island in front of the gla­cier. Mean­while, Moritz was biding his time in the Zodiac by rea­ding my Spits­ber­gen book! That is hard to see in the pan­ora­ma, but I loved the idea. The result can soon be seen on this web­site. I am pret­ty sure it is the first 360 degree pan­ora­ma taken the­re. Not a bad thing. Click here to see the result.

The­re was more to come today. More about that later.

For­landsund – 27th Sep­tem­ber 2015

A day in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which can at least par­ti­al­ly be spent with doing not­hing, is always a good thing. So yes­ter­day we could start again with fresh moti­va­ti­on and ener­gy.

A calm day in For­landsund, with light snow­fall we walk over the coas­tal plain bet­ween Isfjord and St. Jonsfjord. Lovely coas­tal sce­ne­ry, rein­de­er ant­lers, ever­ything cove­r­ed with a thin fresh white lay­er.

Pho­to Eidem­buk­ta 27th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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The Poole­pyn­ten Swim­ming Club is some­whe­re else, but Dah­l­breen pres­ents its­elf with colours that somehow dis­play an ama­zing com­bi­na­ti­on of soft­ness and inten­si­ty. Beau­ti­ful, clear light.

Pho­to Dah­l­breen 27th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Spits­ber­gen seems to switch from autumn to win­ter now. We will pro­bab­ly get qui­te a bit of wind for some days, star­ting tonight. Could be good sai­ling wind. We are qui­te curious what the upco­m­ing days will bring.

Isfjord – 24th Sep­tem­ber 2015

The last day of this trip with lan­dings, incredi­ble. For a while, you think you still have got the who­le voya­ge ahead of you, and then the days are sud­den­ly fly­ing.

Today, first thing is to find a good play­ground for the gla­cier group. Ide­al­ly some crev­as­ses in easy ter­rain, so Falk can install some ice screws and ropes and peop­le can rope down. We find a good spot on Esmark­breen and it works well, ever­y­bo­dy is later com­ing back with a smi­le on their face.

The tun­dra group is taking a more silent approach, hiking 6-7 kilo­me­tres over morai­nes, wet­lands and tun­dra on Erd­mann­flya, enjoy­ing the pan­ora­ma, some rein­de­er encoun­ters, the soft colours of the autumn tun­dra and thin­king a bit about the immense time sca­le of earth histo­ry. A 46 m long rope makes it easy to get a good idea of it.

We cross Isfjord under full sail. What a beau­ti­ful view! Com­pa­red to that, some other ships look like floa­ting green­houses …

For our last lan­ding in Cole­s­buk­ta, natu­re has tur­ned the light on again, full power, tur­ning the old, long-aban­do­ned Rus­si­an sett­le­ment into an arc­tic red light quar­ter. Too beau­ti­ful for a lot of tal­king. I wan­ted to talk about the histo­ry of the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments in Spits­ber­gen and the Spits­ber­gen trea­ty, but that does not real­ly work. Colours and light are just too breath­ta­king.

Gal­le­ry Isfjord – 24th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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

In the later evening, we go along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Kongsfjord – 23rd Sep­tem­ber 2015

I was curious what the day would bring. The first view through the port­ho­le, just befo­re 6 a.m., was not too pro­mi­sing. Litt­le but low clouds.
But what the day brought can easi­ly live up to the seri­es of memo­r­able days that we have had. The wild ice land­s­cape of one of few advan­cing gla­ciers in the area; crev­as­sed ice and a young morai­ne land­s­cape.

At the same time, a polar bear was roa­ming around on Blom­strand; not an ever­day event. Later, it went into the water, cir­cling around and obvious­ly loo­king for seals – a polar bear hun­ting in the water is not an ever­y­day sight eit­her, alt­hough it did not get anything. Later, it went ashore again, so we could see it in all its power­ful beau­ty from a good distance. A male bear in good shape, without any marks from sci­en­tists, which is qui­te a tre­at.

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

A visit to one of the small islands in Kongsfjord was to round the day up. A lan­ding the­re is some­thing spe­cial in its­elf; the islands are a bird sanc­tua­ry and clo­sed during the sum­mer. A silent fire­work of calm colours and details and an asto­nis­hin­gly beau­ti­ful view on the sur­roun­ding pan­ora­ma of moun­tains and gla­ciers in evening light.

Krossfjord – 22nd Sep­tem­ber 2015

The bad wea­ther day that we had been anti­ci­pa­ting the who­le time tur­ned out to be not too bad. Time for some lec­tures to start with. Later, we got both a lan­ding – not the season’s lon­gest one, but a nice litt­le walk – and even some good wha­le watching. A fin wha­le, fee­ding in Krossfjord. I can ima­gi­ne a worse bad wea­ther day!

Pho­to Fjor­ten­de Juli­buk­ta – 22nd Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Pho­to Krossfjord – 22nd Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Krossfjord – 21st Sep­tem­ber 2015

The long trip from Woodfjord to Krossfjord went quicker and smoot­her than expec­ted, we were mental­ly pre­pa­red for some wind and sea, which did not hap­pen, but who would mind? Alt­hough, the wea­ther did chan­ge. The clouds were low abo­ve Lil­lie­höök­breen, with some fresh snow on the sur­roun­ding moun­tains. A com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent atmo­s­phe­re.

Pho­to Lil­lie­hook­breen 21. Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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The­re was also fresh snow on the car­pet of lichens and mos­ses in Signe­ham­na. A rein­de­er skull with big ant­lers was lying on the tun­dra, the for­mer owner pro­bab­ly now spread over a wide area. The remains of the war wea­ther sta­ti­ons Knos­pe and Nuss­baum almost in twi­light under fog-like clouds and light snow­fall, which is qui­te appro­pria­te, con­si­de­ring this dark chap­ter of the regio­nal histo­ry, and qui­te aes­the­ti­cal at the same time.

Pho­to Lil­lie­hook­breen 21. Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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Also the many ber­gy bits in Fjor­ten­de Juli­buk­ta have their aes­the­ti­cal value. We are curious what tomor­row will bring. Accord­ing to the wea­ther fore­cast, it might be a cosy day on the ship.

Pho­to Signe­ham­na 21. Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Mona­co­breen – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2015

The shared gla­cier front of Mona­co­breen and Seli­ger­breen does not exist any­mo­re. It has retrea­ted so much that the moun­tain Storting­spre­si­den­ten reaches the shore and sepa­ra­tes the form­er­ly shared gla­cier front into two sepa­ra­te ones. Which does not make the who­le sce­ne­ry less impres­si­ve. High ice walls, thun­de­ring cal­vings, count­less ice­bergs with shapes and colours no human being could invent. Young kit­ti­wa­kes con­fu­se novice bird­wat­chers. Mean­while, the gla­cier hikers are play­ing in the crev­as­se fiel­ds of Mona­co­breen.

Pho­to Horn­baek­pol­len 20. Sep­tem­ber 2015

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A polar bear in Ler­nerøya­ne makes a pro­mi­sing appearan­ce just to disap­pe­ar behind a rocky ridge as we get clo­ser. So now we are calm­ly sai­ling – yes, under sail – up Woodfjord in beau­ti­ful evening light.

Pho­to Mona­co­breen – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Pho­to Woodfjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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Pho­to Woodfjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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Wal­rus-mad­ness on Mof­fen – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015

Mof­fen is this small, for­bid­den island north of Spits­ber­gen. Not much more than a gra­vel bank, a beach atoll around a lagoon whe­re wha­lers used to anchor in their days. The ent­ran­ce to the lagoon does not exist any­mo­re today.

Mof­fen is known and pro­tec­ted becau­se of its wal­rus colo­ny, each sum­mer it is for­bid­den to land the­re until mid sep­tem­ber. Good for tho­se last mohi­cans who are still around in the late sea­son. Espe­cial­ly when the wea­ther is as coope­ra­ti­ve as today. Calm air, calm water, the lan­ding on the expo­sed island is a pie­ce of cake. Soon, we get a visit from some curious wal­rus­ses, and that is how a good part of the morning goes. A group of them is swim­ming up and down the beach clo­se to us, some­ti­mes busy with them­sel­ves, some­ti­mes focus­sing their atten­ti­on on us, curious­ly com­ing out of the water and approa­ching us to an ama­zin­gly clo­se distance. Ano­t­her big group, surely around a hund­red ani­mals, is res­ting on shore near the sou­thern tip of the island. Near­by, the­re is a wal­rus gra­vey­ard, whe­re they were slaugh­te­red in huge num­bers in ear­lier cen­tu­ries for their ivory tusks, the blub­ber and the strong skin.

Pho­to Wal­rus-mad­ness on Mof­fen – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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As we lea­ve Mof­fen, the­re are several big bags of plastic gar­ba­ge less on the island than befo­re. Amongst others, we have found an electri­cal coo­ling box, may­be from the Eng­lish yacht that went on rocks north of Ytre Nor­skøya (may­be it was near­by Fugle­s­an­gen, doesn’t mat­ter) and went down? The two sailors sur­vi­ved, but it was qui­te clo­se. And unne­cessa­ry, the shal­lows the­re are well char­ted.

Pho­to Wal­rus-mad­ness on Mof­fen – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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Some hours later, we have reached Lief­defjord. To our gre­at plea­su­re, we find a polar bear that is res­ting on the tun­dra on a small island, just occa­sio­nal­ly lif­ting its head, stan­ding up once just to lay down again soon. Cap­tain Joa­chim mane­ouvres the Anti­gua ama­zin­gly clo­se to the shore. A beau­ti­ful encoun­ter, and as we lea­ve, the bear is lying and res­ting the very same way as when we came.

Pho­to Andoya­ne – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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We take the time for a litt­le late after­noon stroll on one of the neigh­bou­ring islands, and then we sail to a nice, pro­tec­ted bay to anchor for the night.

Wal­rus­ses and Har­bour seals – 18th Sep­tem­ber 2015

It would be nice to see some wild­life today. Spits­ber­gen is not a zoo, but it is allo­wed to have some hopes. And some­ti­mes one is lucky. So were we today. The wal­rus­ses on Ams­ter­damøya were the­re just as we had been hoping for. The fox the­re was even bet­ter. It had been hiding and slee­ping under a big old whalebo­ne, and I had been stan­ding next to it for a while without see­ing it – and sud­den­ly it was the­re and went its way.

Pho­to Smee­ren­burg – 18th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Also the har­bour seals were at home just as we had been hoping for. Spits­ber­gen can be a friend­ly place.

Pho­to Virgo­ham­na – 18th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Ytre Nor­skøya can also be friend­ly, but usual­ly it isn’t. Usual­ly, the­re is a strong wind blowing, low clouds, a polar bear on the beach, or some­thing like that.

Pho­to Ytre Nor­skoya – 18th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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Not that we would mind see­ing a polar bear, but the­re was none today. So we went up Zeeus­sche Uyt­kyk, the old wha­lers’ loo­kout point with a free view to the north pole.

Pho­to Ytre Nor­skoya – 18th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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Mag­da­le­n­efjord – 17th Sep­tem­ber 2015

The day begins as beau­ti­ful­ly as the last one ends. Mag­da­le­ne­jord in morning light, belts of drif­ting gla­cier ice in the sun, you have to have seen that. Did I wri­te some­thing like that befo­re recent­ly? Doesn’t mat­ter, it is just right. Sun­beams com­ing like spot­lights through the gaps bet­ween moun­tains, pain­ting dots of light on moun­tain slo­pes, gla­ciers and the pen­in­su­la Grav­ne­set, lovely.

Pho­to Grav­ne­set – 17th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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Later it is time to get the cram­pons out. The­re is this nice gla­cier in Smee­ren­burgfjord, gent­le and without crev­as­ses, easi­ly acces­si­ble, sur­roun­ded by jag­ged moun­tains, good stuff.

Pho­to Schei­buk­ta – 17th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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And it is just as good to stay at anchor, silent and calm, a fros­ty night, evening red glowing abo­ve Dans­køya in the north, the gla­cier rising to the south. Now we are curious if we get a nort­hern light tonight.

Pho­to Schei­buk­ta – 17th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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Kongsfjord – 16th Sep­tem­ber 2015

The day begins as beau­ti­ful­ly as the last one ends. Kongsfjord in morning light, belts of drif­ting gla­cier ice in the sun, you have to have seen that. Kings Bay has got its name for good rea­son.
We are wel­co­med by a big rein­de­er on the shore. Tun­dra and big erra­tic boul­ders, gla­cier-polis­hed marb­le, views over wide gla­ciers and ice caps, crow­ned by the Tre Kro­ner. A roy­al sce­ne­ry.

Pho­to Kongsfjord – 16th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2

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A short walk through Ny Åle­sund, sto­ries from mining, sci­ence and expe­di­ti­ons, Amund­sen in the sun, the air­s­hip mast is com­ing out of the shadow exact­ly in the right moment.

Pho­to Ny Åle­sund – 16th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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We lea­ve the pier under sail, hear the com­ple­te ver­si­on of the histo­ry of arc­tic explo­ra­ti­on from Rolf out­side on deck, in the sun, under sails, nice and quiet. Once we have left the fjord, the sea is picking up a bit, and the demand for din­ner is redu­ced, while we are making 6-7 knots under sail nor­thwards.

Pho­to Kongsfjord – 16th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2

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Unter Segeln ver­ließ die Anti­gua die Pier, noch im Fjord gab es von Rolf die aus­führ­li­che Fas­sung der Nord­po­l­ent­de­cker­ge­schich­ten, in der Son­ne an Deck, still unter Segeln. Vor der Küs­te mehr Dünung, die Nach­fra­ge beim Abend­essen ist redu­ziert, wäh­rend es mit 6-7 Kno­ten es nach Nor­den geht.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en – 15th Sep­tem­ber 2015

Reykja­vik, Oslo, Lon­gye­ar­by­en, some warm days in civi­li­sa­ti­on bet­ween Green­land and Spits­ber­gen. Swim­ming pools with natu­ral hot water. Muse­ums with relics from famous polar expe­di­ti­ons. Back to the arc­tic com­fort zone. Back home. Impres­si­ve amounts of equip­ment need to be sor­ted (too much, as always). Mean­while, SV Anti­gua is alrea­dy in port.

Pho­to Isfjord – 15th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/3

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A trip into the unknown begins with well-known rou­ti­nes. (Well, not real­ly into the unknown, of cour­se. But we don’t exact­ly know what the next days will bring, that is the natu­re of this way of tra­ve­ling).

Pho­to Isfjord – 15th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/3

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Peop­le have to get used to each other and to the ship, and then we are off. Cour­se west and then north. Mean­while, arc­tic autumn is showing off. A beau­ti­ful sun­set behind the west coast.

Pho­to Isfjord – 15th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 3/3

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Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it – 08th Sep­tem­ber 2015

Iceland’s first autumn storm has sent a bit of rus­hed air up to Scores­by­sund. As we are south of Jame­son Land, an eas­ter­ly wind is picking up, and the sails are going up – good stuff, and the­re may be one or the other on board who dis­co­vers his or her love for sai­ling. So we for­get about the idea of going to Kap Hope – not a bad exchan­ge, after all, for us.

Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it, or Scores­by­sund vil­la­ge, wha­te­ver you want to call it, comes accord­in­gly a bit grey and win­dy. An arc­tic late sum­mer day. Memo­ries from my lon­ger stay the­re in 2006 come to mind again (my God, 10 years ago!), the bay fro­zen over, dog sleds going over the ice whe­re Ópal is drif­ting now, in the posi­ti­on whe­re I got the Green­land shark … old sto­ries, fond memo­ries. The vil­la­ge has lost some inha­bi­tants, both humans (a few) and dogs (qui­te a lot) sin­ce then.

Gal­le­ry Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it – 08th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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

A nice fare­well to Green­land, with a din­ner at a pri­va­te home in good atmo­s­phe­re.

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