A tent night just under the 80th parallel, sounds like a dream, doesn’t it 🙂 and that was exactly our plan, at least for a part of the group. While landing, the thought of spending the night in a camp was a slightly mixed one, as we had a stiff breeze and the occasional little rain coming from low clouds straight into our faces.
At least these clouds were quite impressive, real storm clouds. Several steams forced most of us to change to some kind of suitable footwear for the occasion. A strong wind kept blowing out of Mosseldalen, and I sensed it wouldn’t be a good place to put up a camp, so we used the first and last nice opportunity before we got that far.
After a while, the tents were standing, reasonably well sheltered from the wind, a little stream with crystal clear water just a few metres away. Lovely place! After a simple but good dinner, the wind fell asleep and so did we, apart from the polar bear watch who stayed outside, walking around and keeping a watchful eye open for any traffic, while enjoying some beautiful light and the occasional bird or reindeer.
Next day, the weather was slowly improving. Mosseldalen turned out to be a very arctic route with scree slopes and a river plain with several channels. Very scenic and impressive.
The next excitement was the question if there was a good way over to Sorgfjord. According to the map, which isn’t exactly very detailed, this should be the case, but in reality ..? Steep rocky slopes to both sides of the valley, a nice glacier, Tåbreen, on the southern side, but that was not our way.
Behind the final bend, however, as expected and hoped for, a nice snow field and then a slope that we could negotiate rather easily. Great views over upper Mosseldalen and Tåbreen, then some low hills and snow fields and soon a little valley leading down to Sorgfjord.
An easy snow field, feeding a torrential meltwater river coming out of a snow cave at the lower end, a walk through the lower valley and then it was just a few final kilometres across the low-lying tundra to reach the shore, where good old Antigua was at anchor, waiting for us. Calm atmosphere an board, everybody had completed their various landings and we just in time for dinner 🙂
Gallery Mosselhalvøya – 18th/19th July, 2016
Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.
It is still impossible to say if this is the route used by various members of the Schröder-Stranz-expedition in 1912 and 1913, as they travelled between Sorgfjord, where their ship was trapped in ice, and Wijdefjord, trying to get through to Longyearbyen. It may as well have been a bit further north, which is also possible, as I could try a couple of years ago.
I guess it will never be possible to identify their exact route, just as their leader and 3 more comrades got lost on Nordaustland, most likely forever.