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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Karl XII Øya, Foynøya – 09th August 2016

Karl XII Øya, Foynøya – 09th August 2016

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

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

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.



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last modification: 2016-08-10 · copyright: Rolf Stange