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Yearly Archives: 2015 − Travelblog

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


Pho­to Krossfjord – 22nd Sep­tem­ber 2015


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


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


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


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


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


Pho­to Woodfjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2


Pho­to Woodfjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Bjør­ne Øer­ne & Char­cot Havn – 07th Sep­tem­ber 2015

Jyt­tes Havn in Bjør­ne Øer­ne (Bear Islands) is one of the most beau­ti­ful natu­ral har­bours in Scores­by­sund. Grundt­vigs­kir­ke and other moun­tains around eas­tern Øfjord, almost 2000 metres high, have per­fect mir­ror images on the calm water in the morning sun. The hike up the rocky hills is a bit deman­ding, but easy for strong hikers and the views are extre­me­ly rewar­ding.

Fur­ther south, Char­cot Havn is the only use­ful bay on the eas­tern side of Mil­ne Land. In con­trast to the very old crystal­li­ne bed­rock that makes up most of inner Scores­by­sund, the­re is some sedi­ment rock on the sou­thern side of the bay, a wes­tern out­lier of the Jame­son Land Basin, and some fos­sils would be inte­res­ting for a chan­ge. The slo­pe does not look too pro­mi­sing, the lower part cove­r­ed with morai­ne rem­nants, all crystal­li­ne base­ment rock, whe­re no Meso­zoic frut­ti di mare would have got lost. Fur­ther up, the­re are coar­se sand­stone blocks. And they have got it all: bival­ves, bra­chio­pods, coral frag­ments, belem­ni­tes, the who­le lot. Juras­sic wad­den sea, pre­ser­ved in the rocks for more than 150 mil­li­on years, brought to day­light by gla­ciers and frost action.

Gal­le­ry Bjør­ne Øer­ne & Char­cot Havn – 07th Sep­tem­ber 2015

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

Huge ice­bergs are drif­ting every here and the­re in the late evening light, while Ópal is sai­ling through Hall Bred­ning, the wide-open midd­le part of the Scores­by­sund. The water is flat calm, a beau­ti­ful evening.

Nort­hern light – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2015

The late night brought ano­t­her high­light: a nort­hern light. The sky was glowing with green colours abo­ve the sou­thwes­tern moun­tains when a beau­ti­ful auro­ra star­ted to shi­ne, com­ing and going a cou­p­le of times. That was defi­ni­te­ly ano­t­her wish that all of us here on board had.

Pho­to Nort­hern light – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2015


Tun­dra land & Island fjord – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2015

The coun­try in inner Scores­by­sund is most­ly steep and rather alpi­ne, and it is not easy to find a place for a lon­ger hike. No ques­ti­on that we had to go out once for a good walk to get lost in the arc­tic natu­re with body and soul. Today was the day, both the ter­rain and the wea­ther were per­fect for it.

Pho­to C. Hof­mann Hal­vo – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 1/2


The tun­dra is glowing in all autumn colours: the Arc­tic wil­low in green and yel­low, the Dwarf birch in red and brown and the Crow­ber­ry with a red so inten­se as if they had an light­bulb inbuilt. The hike is taking us from one hill crow­ned with a huge erra­tic boul­der to the next one, every sin­gle one invi­t­ing for shor­ter or lon­ger breaks to let the eye wan­der over the wide tun­dra and the colour­ful moun­tains. A first class arc­tic expe­ri­ence, fault­less polar plea­su­re. A sno­wy hare and some musko­xen are the icing on the cake.

Pho­to C. Hof­mann Hal­vo – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2015 – 2/2


The pas­sa­ge through Øfjord makes the round trip through the inner fjords of Scores­by­sund com­ple­te. 40 nau­ti­cal miles through this migh­ty sound, whe­re near-ver­ti­cal rock­walls drop a kilo­met­re below sea level and rise simi­lar­ly high abo­ve. A feast for tho­se inte­res­ted in geo­lo­gy and in aes­the­ti­cal struc­tures in rocks, and tho­se who want to be impres­sed by the dimen­si­ons of a huge land­s­cape, will find their hea­ven here any­way.

Pho­to Ofjord – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2015


Fjord of colours II – 05th Sep­tem­ber 2015

The dis­play of colours at Røde Ø was impres­si­ve, but even more impres­si­ve was the big­ger dis­play of the same colours in one of the can­yons fur­ther north. Nor­mal­ly, natu­re expe­ri­ence is not a mat­ter of get­ting the same thing big­ger, bet­ter or fas­ter, but in this case, refer­ring to the colours, this was the impres­si­on. We just went into one of the­se can­yons without knowing how far we would get. We got ama­zin­gly far. Hund­reds of metres of near ver­ti­cal rock­walls to all sides, screa­ming dark red, crow­ned by a deep blue sky. An explo­si­on of two colours, an ama­zing inten­si­ty.

Pho­to Rodefjord Can­yon – 05th Sep­tem­ber 2015


Fur­ther north, musko­xen are gra­zing not far from the shore, then we reach a smal­ler out­let gla­cier that comes down from the inland ice. After a litt­le climb, we get nice views down onto a crev­as­sed gla­cier. On the way, an unex­pec­ted, hap­py mee­ting with a small musko­xen fami­ly. Sur­pri­se on both sides, came­ras here, some moments of thin­king the­re, then they move away. Ama­zing how fast the­se arc­tic, ice-age-style goa­ts can climb up the steep slo­pes.

Pho­to Harefjord – 05th Sep­tem­ber 2015


A litt­le evening walk into the colours of the sun­set – again colours, that is just how Green­land is on a nice late sum­mer day. Ópal is alrea­dy ancho­red in a litt­le bay as we arri­ve.


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