fb  Spitsbergen Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  nb  Spitsbergen Shop  
Home → August, 2016

Monthly Archives: August 2016 − Travelblog

Bellsund, Isfjord – 17th-19th August, 2016

17th-19th August, 2016 – We made lar­ge steps back towards Isfjord, but not without an exten­si­ve stop in Bellsund. The­re, we star­ted with a rela­xed after­noon in the pan­ora­ma lounge of the Arc­ti­ca II, watching how wind, low clouds and rain tur­ned the arc­tic into some­thing very grey. Later that day, it clea­red up a bit and we went out for a walk in Recher­chefjord.

Things got bet­ter next day when we went for a lon­ger hike in Van Keu­len­fjord. After a few hund­red metres over fos­sil beach rid­ges we were gree­ted by a lar­ge male rein­de­er. Having as much time as we would need or want is so good. Not having to keep an eye on the watch, just taking things as they come. It does not yet get dark here at night­time … it took some time, but then the rein­de­er had real­ly come clo­se to us, just being curious and friend­ly befo­re it went its way again.

We fol­lo­wed a small river with lovely litt­le water­falls to that gla­cier cave that we hap­pen­ed to find in July. When you are lucky enough to find some­thing like that, then you have to make use of it! So we did, we went into the won­der­ful insi­de world of that gla­cier and enjoy­ed (you can do this now also online, with a 360 degree pan­or­amic view, just by cli­cking this link).

Final­ly it was time for the last open sea pas­sa­ge to Isfjord. It tur­ned out to be a bit of a pas­sa­ge due to a stiff bree­ze which was fil­ling the sail, so we went up north with excel­lent speed. The friends of sai­ling cer­tain­ly had a gre­at evening! This was noti­ced also insi­de the ship, as some gusts made the ship lean over qui­te stron­gly befo­re we ent­e­red Grønfjord to find a shel­te­red ancho­ra­ge.

Gal­le­ry – Bellsund, Isfjord – 17th-19th August, 2016

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

As the wind kept blowing in Isfjord the next day, we deci­ded to spend the last day of the trip in Grønfjord, which was com­pa­ra­tively shel­te­red. Anyo­ne who thought Grønfjord does not have nice natu­re and sce­ne­ry was posi­tively disap­poin­ted during a litt­le moun­tain hike respec­tively tun­dra walk. Final­ly, we had our first mee­ting with civi­li­sa­ti­on again in Bar­ents­burg, befo­re we enjoy­ed Heinrich’s gre­at final din­ner and then made the last miles (of 1192 in total) back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Horn­sund – 16th August 2016

Due to the night shift on the wheel, I miss the first lan­ding in Horn­sund, but later I hear of a litt­le hike, rein­de­er, arc­tic skuas and a gla­cier as I join group life again around mid day.

Hard­ly anyo­ne has real­ly slept well last night becau­se of the move­ments of the boat, so a rela­xed litt­le walk at Gnå­lod­den is the per­fect choice for the after­noon. It is pure plea­su­re to lie on dry tun­dra near the bird cliff – the kit­ti­wa­kes are still the­re, making a lot of noi­se – and let the eye wan­der over the arc­tic land­s­cape.

What a life, what a land!

We also have a look at Wan­ny Woldstad’s home in Horn­sund, name­ly in Hyt­tevi­ka. She is the one who wro­te the pre­vious sen­tence in her book about her adven­tur­ous life as a fema­le hun­ter here in the 1930s. The hut in Hyt­tevi­ka, built in 1907, got some serious main­tai­nan­ce ear­lier this som­mer. Good job. Now she is rea­dy for ano­t­her 100 years. (the­re is a pan­ora­ma tour of this hut on this web­site).

Gal­le­ry – Horn­sund – 16th August 2016

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

Then we are loo­king for­ward to a calm night at anchor. But some of the swell is still rol­ling in here, so it is not as calm as we had been hoping for. As also the wind is picking up and the anchor alarm is going for the third time, Hein­rich lifts the anchor in the ear­ly morning hours and we start stea­ming north.

Storfjord – 15th August 2016

Now we have to move one, we still have many miles to go to the west coast, up to Isfjord, and to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. We are pas­sing Mohn­buk­ta. The over­land trip from the­re to Lon­gye­ar­by­en would just take a few hours, but that’s ano­t­her sea­son, ano­t­her way of get­ting around … Agardhbuk­ta fol­lows, from here it would be a hike of 4-5 days for strong wal­kers. That is about the amount of time that we still have for the long trip around the south cape.

My per­so­nal memo­ries of the fol­lowing two days are not qui­te com­ple­te, as we keep stea­ming through two nights. Initi­al­ly, Hein­rich, Kers­tin and I take shifts, which we then redu­ce to Hein­rich and me during the second night so Kers­tin can take care of lan­dings, which I am mis­sing. A stran­ge expe­ri­ence for me, but this way we can keep moving, which is important now. How did we make this work until last year, without a second gui­de? I don’t know.

But we do make lan­dings. In Isbuk­ta, we make an unusu­al obser­va­ti­on: a Harp seal on a pie­ce of gla­cier ice! Very clo­se to us, the cha­rac­te­ris­tic fur pat­tern is clear­ly visi­ble. Then the group makes a hike on shore.

Gal­le­ry – Storfjord – 15th August 2016

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

We pass the infa­mous south cape during the night. Calm seas and rea­son­ab­le wea­ther allow Hein­rich to exe­cu­te a nau­ti­cal mas­ter­pie­ce as he is navi­ga­ting Arc­ti­ca through through a nar­row and shal­low pas­sa­ge north of the small islands, saving a good 20 nau­ti­cal miles on our way to Horn­sund. Good thing, as it starts rol­ling as we reach the west coast.

Straum­s­land – 14th August 2016

The Nor­we­gi­an wea­ther fore­cast is cur­r­ent­ly not worth the paper it is writ­ten on (and we don’t even print it). We should have been able to sail and make lan­dings com­for­ta­b­ly in calm con­di­ti­ons. In real life, we have had qui­te strong winds last night and today morning, enjoy­ing some real sai­ling. But even in a lee side posi­ti­on, it was too win­dy to make a lan­ding today morning.

So we con­ti­nued sou­thwards out of Hin­lo­pen Strait in order to make use of the pre­cious time, even though it was a bum­py road on the way to Heley­sund. So gre­at the­re is this well-shel­te­red bay the­re, what would we do without it? Even the­re, we spent the after­noon on board, wai­t­ing for the wind to sett­le down, but we did that in all com­fort and safe­ty. In the evening, it cal­med down and we enjoy­ed a nice hike around Straum­s­land, the arc­tic showing herself in peace and beau­ty again.

Gal­le­ry – Straum­s­land – 14th August 2016

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

We are stea­ming sou­thwards in Storfjord through the night. The remai­ning days are get­ting fewer and we have to make sure we are get­ting back to the west coast now. Skip­per and gui­des are taking shifts, pas­sen­gers act as co-pilots during the night hours. See whe­re we end up tomor­row. Cur­r­ent­ly we have Mohn­buk­ta in the most beau­ti­ful mid­ni­ght sun light on our star­board side.

Hin­lo­pen Strait II – 13th August 2016

Mira­cles of Hin­lo­pen Strait! Today was a day of wild­life. Brünich’s guil­lemots in ama­zing num­bers – you know the place, we have been the­re befo­re, more than once. But Alkef­jel­let is and remains exci­ting. It is dif­fe­rent every time. This time, a lot of the chicks were alrea­dy on the water, rea­dy to start the long trip to south Green­land tog­e­ther with their fathers.

It is pro­bab­ly less well known whe­re you can find puf­fins in Hin­lo­pen Strait 🙂

We saw four polar bears today. A mother with a cup up on a hill slo­pe, qui­te distant. We got a bit clo­ser to this well-fed guy who was spen­ding the after­noon on a very green slo­pe. The veg­gie food see­med to to him well. Of cour­se we don’t know what else he may have had recent­ly.

Gal­le­ry – Hin­lo­pen Strait II – 13th August 2016

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

We do know, howe­ver, that peop­le are sup­po­sed to keep some distance from wal­rus­ses. But nice that the wal­rus­ses don’t always know that 🙂

Hin­lo­pen Strait I – 12th August 2016

After the „ner­ve-wre­cking pas­sa­ge“ (accord­ing to the pilot book, Den Nor­ske Los) of Fran­klin­sund, which is lar­ge­ly shal­low and most­ly unchar­ted, and some win­dy miles down into Hin­lo­pen Strait, we made Murchi­son­fjord our first stop in this area. It is, of cour­se, at the same time still part of Nord­aus­t­land. One good rea­son for going the­re was mee­ting the smal­ler sis­ter ship Arc­ti­ca I, which had brought some sought-after goods from Lon­gye­ar­by­en inclu­ding fresh fruit and yoghurt.

The polar desert around Murchi­son­fjord is made up of very old rocks, which gives tho­se with some back­ground in geo­lo­gy insight in some of the very ear­ly chap­ters of the histo­ry of life on earth. Colo­nies of algae that around 800 mil­li­on years ago con­tri­bu­t­ed to the con­tent of free oxy­gen of today’s atmo­s­phe­re, which we use for breat­hing and bur­ning fuels and cand­les. The­re is a group of geo­lo­gists on Arc­ti­ca I doing rese­arch on this, and they kind­ly gave us a short, but very inte­res­ting intro­duc­tion into their work.

Gal­le­ry – Hin­lo­pen Strait I – 12th August 2016

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

We got fur­ther insight into geo­lo­gy, a snow cave crea­ted by a meltwa­ter river and a beau­ti­ful litt­le can­yon as we ven­tu­red out on land.

Nord­aus­t­land – 10th-12th August 2016

10th-12th August 2016 – Exci­ting days on the north coast of Nord­aus­t­land. To the south, the­re are the lar­ge ice caps, and to the north, the Arc­tic Oce­an. Bet­ween them, a nar­row stri­pe of bar­ren, ice-free land. It has ple­nty of rocks and lichens. Anything else is rare or absent.

And yet, the­re is so much. Impres­si­ons that are hard to squee­ze into words. Land­s­capes that have a lot of NOT­HING. I don’t mean the absence of anything that could catch the eye or mind. Qui­te the oppo­si­te: the­re is a lot of some­thing that might be descri­bed as NOT­HING. May­be empty­ness is ano­t­her term that makes the point. Any attempt to descri­be this would soon get bog­ged down in a long list of stones and rocks, shore­li­nes and gla­ciers, bays and fjords. Every flower, no mat­ter how small, beco­mes an attrac­tion, any chan­ge of rock cat­ches our atten­ti­on. It pro­bab­ly doesn’t sound very exci­ting unless you have expe­ri­en­ced the gre­at NOT­HING yourself. Many could pro­bab­ly stand in this land­s­cape and wouldn’t expe­ri­ence the gre­at NOT­HING, but just see – not­hing.

Gal­le­ry – Nord­aus­t­land – 10th-12th August 2016

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

We hap­pen­ed to visit the Hau­de­gen sta­ti­on, the last out­post of Ger­man sol­di­ers during the second world war. A mili­ta­ry wea­ther sta­ti­on that was not relie­ved befo­re Sep­tem­ber 1945, when a ship came from Nor­way. Ano­t­her place we visi­ted was inner Bren­ne­v­insfjord, whe­re the Glen expe­di­ti­on from Oxford had a base for their rese­arch on the ice cap Ves­t­fon­na in 1935-36. The edge of the ice cap is just a few minu­tes wal­king away from the shore and it is easi­ly acces­si­ble.

Now we are on our way into Hin­lo­pen Strait.

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.

Nort­hern Spits­ber­gen – 7th/8th August 2016

7th/8th August 2016 – The day did not just start grey and wet, it also remai­ned grey and wet. We adjus­ted our day in Raudfjord, which today was a Gråfjord, by making it shor­ter, just making a litt­le moun­tain hike to have a view of a cloud from the insi­de and to stretch our legs a litt­le bit. Then we pushed on to the nor­the­ast, the best thing one can do with such a day is enjoy­ing a rela­xed after­noon on board while making miles. We reached Sjuøya­ne after mid­ni­ght and drop­ped anchor for some calm hours.

Also Sjuøya­ne were anything but fog-free today, but visi­bi­li­ty was enough for a lan­ding, to visit some wal­rus­ses and to make a walk in this high-arc­tic land­s­cape. We finis­hed the tour a bit ear­lier, as it tur­ned out that the ter­rain was occup­pied by a polar bear.

Ves­le Tav­leøya asnd Ros­søya are Europe’s nort­hern­most islands, rocks in this sea of fog that does not real­ly want to be an ice sea any­mo­re. But the islands are home to puf­fins. We saw also some of last year’s juve­ni­les.

Gal­le­ry Nort­hern Spits­ber­gen – 7th/8th August 2016

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

We made good use of a bree­ze by con­ti­nuing under sail towards the 81st par­al­lel, sai­ling bey­ond the edge of most maps on board. Kind of lea­ving the world behind, for while.

Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen – 6th August 2016

The day star­ted a bit fog­gy, which is not necessa­ri­ly a bad thing. You can give it a gent­le start, slow­ly kreep out of the slee­ping bag and have a peace­ful bre­ak­fast without mis­sing anything.

But then the day real­ly took off. The sun star­ted to burn holes into the fog, alt­hough the remai­ning fog banks were lar­ge­ly very deco­ra­ti­ve. The har­bour seals on Dans­køya tur­ned out to be reli­able, and so did the 17th cen­tu­ry gra­ves and blub­ber ovens on Ams­ter­damøya. Well, they tend to be less mobi­le than the seals any­way.

Gal­le­ry Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen – 6th August 2016

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

The litt­le auks in their colo­nies here in nor­thwes­tern Spits­ber­gen are semi-mobi­le, with their sea­so­nal migra­ti­ons, but still more mobi­le than a blub­ber oven that has been sta­tio­na­ry for about 400 years. Now in August, most of them were gone (the litt­le auks, not the blub­ber ovens). But even if the­re hadn’t been a sin­gle one at all: the two blue foxes would have been more than worth making that lan­ding alo­ne!

Mag­da­le­n­efjord – 5th August 2016

Around mid-day we had reached Mag­da­le­n­efjord. Going into Mag­da­le­n­efjord was not even part of the plan, but as we don’t real­ly have a plan, it didn’t real­ly mat­ter … we keep making decisi­ons as we go along the way, and as it was qui­te fog­gy fur­ther north, but clear in Mag­da­le­n­efjord, this decisi­on was an easy one.

During a first litt­le walk on a nice sand beach (no, not Grav­ne­set), we saw arc­tic turn chicks, may­be flap­ping their wings today for the first time, doing their first metres in flight … the first of many mil­li­on more to come, they will spend most of their life migra­ting back and forth bet­ween the Arc­tic and the Ant­arc­tic. So litt­le ani­mals, such an ama­zing life. Some wal­rus­ses were swim­ming around, with a gla­cier front pro­vi­ding a good back­ground.

Not far away, a polar bear was res­ting on the shore. We had a good, rea­son­ab­ly clo­se look at it. It just lifted its head, not giving a sh… about our pre­sence. Or any­bo­dy else’s pre­sence. The­re was about half a dozen of boats drif­ting or ancho­ring in that bay, crow­ding the place. Not that it bothe­red the bear much. But the place was over­crow­ded, well, it has been very crow­ded for more than a 100 years the­re, it is not­hing new. But not­hing we would want to be part of, so we left soon and hea­ded on.

Gal­le­ry Mag­da­le­n­efjord – 5th August 2016

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

We left Mag­da­le­n­efjord in good style: hiking. Hund­reds of thousands of tou­rists have been the­re over the deca­des, but few have done that, lea­ving not on a ship, but on foot. We made a nice gla­cier pas­sa­ge to the north. On the way to the gla­cier, we pas­sed a polar bear just a few hund­red metres from us. We could only see it when we had alrea­dy pas­sed it. It was lying fur­ther up on the slo­pe, watching us for a moment, then lay­ing its head down again, not taking any fur­ther noti­ce of us at all. Good. We went our way up on the gla­cier, up into the fog, the moun­tains occa­sio­nal­ly com­ing out bet­ween fog banks … a mys­te­ry atmo­s­phe­re, small meltwa­ter streams run­ning down the gla­cier, disap­pearing into the ice in lar­ge holes. The com­bi­na­ti­on of a gla­cier, a polar bear and fog made this tour qui­te unf­or­gett­able.

Kongsfjord – 04th August 2016

After a quiet morning on board with gre­at views of the han­ging gla­ciers on Prins Karls For­land and a bit of geo­lo­gi­cal info­tain­ment (what a stu­pid word! It was a pre­sen­ta­ti­on, or a lec­tu­re, if you pre­fer that. Peri­od.) we reached Kongsfjor­den. Both Kongsfjor­dbu­tik­ken and air­s­hip mast have a remar­kab­le drawing power also for advan­ced Spits­ber­gen tra­vel­lers. And we want to re-fill die­sel any­way, to be able to reach the remo­test parts of the Sval­bard archi­pe­la­go should the oppor­tu­ni­ty ari­se. We will see what the wea­ther tells us to do.

The gre­at wea­ther with light exact­ly from the right direc­tion made an excur­si­on to the gla­ciers almost man­da­to­ry. Arc­ti­ca II under sail near Kong­s­ve­gen, some of Spitsbergen’s most impres­si­ve moun­tains in the back­ground, all in sunshi­ne, and then a big cal­ving just behind the boat. An ama­zing sce­ne, a specta­cle, almost too much for the sen­ses.

The wea­ther is still fine, but sup­po­sed to turn to the worse tomor­row. So we igno­re time and tired­ness but head of for some good hiking on Blom­strand­hal­vøya. Well-known ter­rain, you should think. But even here, the­re is always some­thing new to dis­co­ver. One group takes off for some moun­tain hiking, enjoy­ing fine views of the sur­roun­ding gla­ciers and moun­tains from an ele­va­ted posi­ti­on. The others do some caving. Not without suc­cess.

Gal­le­ry Kongsfjord – 04th August 2016

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

It is late as ever­y­bo­dy comes back on board. Bre­ak­fast is delay­ed next morning and not real­ly syn­chro­ni­zed. We are alrea­dy back to the west coast, hea­ding north, as we get up one by one.

Trygg­ham­na – 03. August 2016

So we are off again, this time with Arc­ti­ca II. Six­ty feet of steel, 12 souls insi­de, inclu­ding skip­per and boat owner Hein­rich from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Kers­tin Lan­gen­ber­ger as gui­de and me. Yes, this year we have got two gui­des on board.

Piz­za from the pub in Lon­gye­ar­by­en is the first high­light on board, and then we sail out of the har­bour. The­re is still a mode­ra­te bree­ze blowing in Isfjor­den, so we can get used to life at sea a bit. Not too much, but enough for some. Not too long though, it is get­ting cal­mer again as we approach the nort­hern side of Isfjord and it is calm as a lake as we are get­ting into the shel­te­red bay of Trygg­ham­na.

The hig­hest moun­tain tops are in clouds as we wake up next morning, but it is nice, clear and dry, so we start for a litt­le moun­tain hike. Knuv­len is a temp­t­ing litt­le top, just 325 metres high but with gre­at views of sur­roun­ding gla­ciers, moun­tains and the fjord. The view is worth every sin­gle one of the many rocky metres.

Gal­le­ry Trygg­ham­na – 03. August 2016

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

It is get­ting grey as we con­ti­nue into For­landsund. We enjoy views of the coast as we pass Daud­manns­od­den near­by, but then it is a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to rest a bit, to read, to sort pic­tures … until we drop anchor in a litt­le bay at Prins Karls For­land for a calm night. We took the oppor­tu­ni­ty for a litt­le evening walk, dis­co­vering the tun­dra with the colours of some late flowers and the remains of a hunter’s cabin, once solid­ly built with drift­wood logs, a mate­ri­al other­wi­se rare­ly used for that pur­po­se.


News-Listing live generated at 2021/December/08 at 04:13:39 Uhr (GMT+1)