The end of the world! Yeah! Remote, little islands are always something special. There is always something to discover, and you never know what will happen. There are often polar bears on small islands in this area. And, of course, the weather. You need some luck to make things work here.
They could never quite agree if Karl XII Island is one island or two. It was described as two islands after its discovery in the 19th century. Later in the 20th century, both islets grew together, it is said. Now it is definitely two islands. We could have gone through between them by Zodiac. If you cannot get from one end to the other with rubber boots without getting you feet wet, even at low tide, it cannot be just one island. Period.
After having a good look around for polar bears and deciding that the only bear around, which way lying up on a slope several hundred metres away from our prospected landing site, was not too much of a bother, we went ashore. Under these conditions, you can’t walk far from the boat, but there was not much space on level ground anyway, and the one and only hill was obviously already occupied. The number of kittywakes breeding up there is remarkable, there is a constant noise and the slopes under the colony are very lush and green. Together with the dark, rugged rocks and the overall shape of the islands, which is long and narrow, with the only real elevation at the northern end and some lower hill at the southern, it makes a nice miniature version of Jan Mayen.
A dead polar bear and some spread bones are silent but clear witnesses of how hard a bear’s life can be. But the strong one up on the hill is obviously doing well, however exactly he is doing it.
Karl XII Øya and especially Foynøya became famous in 1928 when Nobile’s airship Italia crashed in their vicinity. The famous „red tent“ that housed the 9 survivors of the crash – 6 men disappeared together with the airship – drifted for a while on the ice in this area. Amongst many relief expeditions was a dog sledge party with the Dutchman Josef van Dongen and the Italian Gennaro Sora, who nally became stuck on Foynøya on 04 July; they were rescued on 13 July by a Swedish seaplane. (With this last sentence, I copy myself from my Spitsbergen book, I was too lazy to write a new sentence.)
That brings us to Foynøya, which we explored in the afternoon. The northern end, to be precise. Some artefacts from 1928 are said to be still there, a box and a pistol or whatever. I guess you would need weeks to discover it, turning every stone around, if anything was actually really still there.
Gallery Karl XII Øya, Foynøya – 09th August 2016
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And there are a lot of stones. Foynøya has got its very own charme. It is obviously a high arctic island, with lots of granite rocks, weathered and broken into large boulders. Black guillemots are sitting and screaming on high cliffs. Some fog banks add to the atmosphere, without obscuring too much of the scenery.