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Yearly Archives: 2016 − News & Stories

Horn­sund – 28th/29th May 2016

28th/29th May 2016 – Final­ly Spits­ber­gen is rai­sing from the sea ahead of us, and we are cer­tain­ly all loo­king for­ward to shel­te­red waters after the crossing. The swell is actual­ly rea­ching a bit into Horn­sund, making the first ancho­ra­ge a bit lively.

Gal­lery Horn­sund – 28th/29th May 2016

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

The first landing brings gre­at views of the near­by gla­cier and of the migh­ty surf poun­ding on the outer shore of our litt­le pen­in­su­la. Horn­sund­tind is still hiding in clouds, but not for long any­mo­re. After a cou­ple of hours, Bau­taen and Horn­sund­tind are both free of clouds, rising maje­s­ti­cal­ly into the blue sky. We enjoy the pan­ora­ma of gla­ciers, ice and moun­ta­ins for ano­ther day. Alt­hough it is obvious­ly far less ice than it should be. No drif­ti­ce any­whe­re near, only ice­bergs from the local gla­ciers. Hard­ly any trace of fast ice, only some lose, drif­ting, wea­the­ring floes. Sad.

Barents Sea – 27th/28th May 2016

Just 24 hours from Bear Island to Horn­sund – not bad at all. The wind was blo­wing with some force, and even from the right direc­tion, around Beau­fort 5-6 from the west, sails up and off we go. Life on board is a bit spor­ti­ve. Real sai­ling 🙂 but dif­fi­cult to find wha­les under the­se con­di­ti­ons, we saw 2 or 3 blows, but who knows how many wha­les the­re real­ly were …

Pho­tos Barents Sea – 27th – 28th May 2016


Barents Sea & Bear Island – 26th and 27th May 2016

26th and 27th May 2016 − We left Nor­way too soon behind as always. A day in Trom­sø, full of impres­si­ons, peo­p­le and a bit of a to-do-list, makes a day go by very quick­ly. Fugløya was, in the late evening of the same day, rather devo­id of birds, it did not do jus­ti­ce to its name at all. Who knows whe­re they were that night.

The Barents Sea: not real­ly calm and not real­ly wild. A bree­ze, good sai­ling wind, the engi­ne can have a day off. Lec­tures replace the wha­les, which are any­whe­re today but not whe­re we are.

Bear Island: not real­ly in good mood but not real­ly bad eit­her. Win­dy, grey, wet. But we did mana­ge to make a landing, in a small, hid­den bay on the sou­the­ast coast. This is as much as you can rea­li­sti­cal­ly expect on a nor­mal day up here. A stiff bree­ze, lively swell, low clouds, rain show­ers. This is not unhe­ard of at Bear Island. The only thing to do is to find a coast with as much shel­ter as pos­si­ble and to make the best of it. This is exact­ly what we did, and it was good.

But it wasn’t good enough to visit the sta­ti­on, unfort­u­na­te­ly. Just too much wind, waves and swell coming around the coast. A shame, we had been loo­king for­ward to the sta­ti­on, and the peo­p­le the­re were very fri­end­ly on the radio, alre­a­dy loo­king for­ward to the fresh news­pa­pers Bir­git had bought for them in Nor­way.

Gal­lery – Barents Sea & Bear Island – 26th and 27th May 2016

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

Fresh wind is again fil­ling the sails now as we are making our way north now, towards Horn­sund. Up and down the waves. Acti­vat­ing the brain to recy­cle the memo­re and the sto­mach to do prin­ci­pal­ly the same with recent meals, in some cases. So we are all loo­king for­ward to Spitsbergen’s shel­te­red bays now.

Har­stad, Sen­ja – 24th May 2016

Now we have to start making miles, as the­re is quite a lot of them left on the way nor­thwards. We could do a good bit today nice­ly under sail. And still had time for two stops. In Har­stad, I did not have time to take any pho­tos. Some­ti­mes the­re are inde­ed other things to do. But later, when we saw tho­se sea eagles, I just had to get the came­ra out.

Gal­lery – Har­stad, Sen­ja – 24th May 2016

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

In the evening, the­re was the oppor­tu­ni­ty for a litt­le walk on the sou­thern end of the island of Sen­ja. But when I take not­hing but the water­pro­of GoPro ashore and start taking pho­tos of the fuel sta­ti­on, then this may also tell a sto­ry. Well, stret­ching legs was the point, and so we did.

Skro­va, Troll­fjord – 23rd May 2016

The nicest pho­to of Skro­va was pos­si­bly the last one from last night (see pre­vious blog). This per­spec­ti­ve is often just hard or impos­si­ble to beat.
But you have to expe­ri­ence the white sand bea­ches and the colourful bea­ches on the spot, you have to feel the sand under your feet. The towel stay­ed in the ruck­sack, though, due to a lack of sun.

Gal­lery – Skro­va, Troll­fjord – 23rd May 2016

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

The sky got dan­ge­rous­ly dark, but the sun almost bro­ke through again in Troll­fjor­den. Stun­ning!

Kabel­våg, Tjeld­berg­tin­den – 22nd May 2016

How gre­at does it feel, hot sun rays as you get out befo­re break­fast! What a con­trast to the grey, wet wea­ther last night!

The locals in Lofo­ten can be very crea­ti­ve and artis­tic. You enter a public pho­ne and you find a libra­ry. I guess the­re are not too many libra­ri­es in the world that are smal­ler.

Kabel­våg used to be the capi­tal of the Lofo­ten islands in medieval times, this is whe­re it star­ted more than a thousand years ago. You can get an idea of life, eco­no­my and power through the cen­tu­ries in the open air muse­um, which can only be recom­men­ded.

More recent tracks lead us away from Kabel­våg and into the beau­tiful natu­re, along a like and up the moun­tain Kjeld­berg­tin­den. A first class 360 degree pan­o­r­amic view in the finest suns­hi­ne. The beau­tiful coast­li­nes with many bays and sker­ries, the snow cover­ed, rug­ged moun­ta­ins, wood- and wet­lands, sett­le­ments … ever­y­thing is shi­ning under and around us.

Gal­lery – Kabel­våg, Tjeld­berg­tin­den – 22nd May 2016

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

After a cou­ple of hours we con­ti­nue with Anti­gua again, until we can enjoy a calm evening and night in the litt­le port of Skro­va.

Rei­ne & Nusfjord – 21st May 2016

Rai­ny day, dream away, let the suns­hi­ne take a holi­day … I guess Jimi Hen­drix did not think of Lofo­ten when he wro­te that. Or may­be he did? On some days, it would cer­tain­ly fit. Today was one of the­se days.

This did not keep us – well, some of us – to climb up to an alti­tu­de of 438 m abo­ve Rei­ne to enjoy the view. And it was worth it! Initi­al­ly, it was just grey, but then the clouds ope­ned up for some pre­cious minu­tes. The view of Rei­ne from the moun­tain is ama­zing.

Gal­lery – Rei­ne & Nusfjord – 21st May 2016

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

Then the curtain went down again, and so did we.
After an after­noon visit to Nusfjord, we con­tin­ued to Kabel­våg.

Bodø – 20th May 2016

It is a rapid chan­ge from win­ter to sum­mer. It is not long ago that we went to Barents­burg by snow mobi­le, and today is the start of the nor­t­hern sum­mer for me. Quite a spe­cial sum­mer, my 20th one, coun­ting Spits­ber­gen sum­mers. I am a bit proud of it, but it makes me feel a bit old at the same time. Well, that is just how it is.
Yes­ter­day I came to Bodø, crossing the arc­tic cir­cle at an alti­tu­de of 30000 feet (give or take a few, I did not check). I have not seen the arc­tic cir­cle, but I know it was the­re, far below us.

Good old Anti­gua was wai­ting along­side in the har­bour of Bodø. Or rather, good new Anti­gua. The ship has chan­ged quite a bit sin­ce I have seen her for the last time in Novem­ber. Same place, by the way, but quite dif­fe­rent. Back then, it was dark and cold. Now, it is warm and sun­ny, very plea­sant. I was quite curious to see her now, 8 m lon­ger. And inde­ed, the midd­le deck resem­bles a foot­ball field. Well, in com­pa­ri­son. The new cab­ins are also quite impres­si­ve.

Old fri­ends and new faces, good spi­rits, a hap­py start into a new sea­son. Ves­t­fjor­den is also in good shape, the 40 nau­ti­cal miles (give or take a few, I did not check) are pure plea­su­re, sit­ting on deck in the sun. The famous Lofot­veg­gen, the chain of moun­ta­ins that makes up the islands which are rising from the sea like a wall, are slow­ly coming clo­ser, the out­liers Mos­ken and Værøy in the beau­tiful light of the evening sun.

Gal­lery – Bodø – 20th May 2016

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

It is late as we get­ting near the har­bour of Rei­ne, and just as we are about to enter, we meet a pod of Orca. We stay with them for a litt­le while. A big male with an impres­si­ve dor­sal fin and seve­ral smal­ler ones, inclu­ding a calf or two.

It could stay like this for the who­le sum­mer 🙂

Sval­bard­mel­ding: new Nor­we­gi­an white paper for Spits­ber­gen-poli­tics

The Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment publishes a stra­tegy paper to defi­ne a frame­work for Spits­ber­gen-rela­ted poli­tics every cou­ple of years. The last one came in 2009 and the new one had been announ­ced a while ago. Local play­ers were eager­ly wai­ting for it, hoping for new and posi­ti­ve impacts for the local deve­lo­p­ment espe­ci­al­ly in times whe­re one of the major local eco­no­mic dri­ving forces, the coal mining indus­try, is lar­ge­ly col­lapsing.

Now it is the­re, the new Sval­bard white paper was published this week and it is now wide­ly dis­cus­sed in regio­nal media.

Most com­men­ta­tors are dis­ap­poin­ted, all in all. The new Sval­bard­mel­ding is a descrip­ti­on of obvious deve­lo­p­ments rather than a packa­ge of impul­ses to dri­ve future deve­lo­p­ment. Comm­ents are quick­ly drif­ting into the details of local eco­no­mic poli­cy, and may­be that is what is new about it: eco­no­my is more important than it was in the 2009 paper. But it is no news that coal mining is of decre­asing importance. More year-round full time jobs are to be crea­ted, pre­fer­a­b­ly in the pri­va­te sec­tor, but public insti­tu­ti­ons may just as well increase their local pre­sence. The future fate of the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske remains unclear, and so does the ans­wer to the ques­ti­on who will fill the gap that Store Nor­ske has left in Longyearbyen’s eco­no­my as a major indus­tri­al actor. Local ide­as to deve­lo­p­ment Longyearbyen’s indus­try as a fishery port are not taken much fur­ther by the new Sval­bard­mel­ding. The­se are among­st the ques­ti­ons that locals want to have ans­we­red.

Neither is the­re much cla­ri­ty about flight traf­fic. Due to his­to­ri­cal con­tracts and Spitsbergen’s spe­cial poli­ti­cal situa­ti­on, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is curr­ent­ly not open as desti­na­ti­on for sche­du­led flights from non-Nor­we­gi­an air­ports. Recent­ly, Finn­air has can­cel­led flights alre­a­dy sche­du­led and in sale for this sum­mer, much to the reg­ret of the local tou­rism indus­try.

Ano­ther important issue is local power sup­p­ly. It is not a secret that the coal power plant, ori­gi­nal­ly built in 1983, is not going to last fore­ver. The ques­ti­on of the future elec­tri­ci­ty sup­p­ly is going bey­ond the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of how power is get­ting into sockets in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: the visi­on of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, a small and elec­tri­cal­ly iso­la­ted com­mu­ni­ty, as a labo­ra­to­ry for tech­no­lo­gy for the ener­gy sup­p­ly of the future, has been dis­cus­sed for quite a while alre­a­dy. A cle­ver rea­liza­ti­on of this visi­on might crea­te know­ledge of glo­bal importance and local jobs. The new Spits­ber­gen white­pa­per does not make much of a con­tri­bu­ti­on to the­se ide­as. Important impul­ses for the­se deve­lo­p­ments are not expec­ted from the new paper.

The only con­cre­te task that is heral­ded by the Sval­bard­mel­ding is 10 mil­li­on NOK (curr­ent­ly just abo­ve 1 mil­li­on Euro) for new accom­mo­da­ti­on, also as a reac­tion to the loss of 11 hou­ses during the ava­lan­che in Decem­ber 2015.

The new Spits­ber­gen white paper (Sval­bard­mel­ding) does not bring any sur­pri­ses or major unex­pec­ted impul­ses to the local deve­lo­p­ment.

Longyearbyen: New Svalbardmelding (Spitsbergen white paper)

Sources: among­st others. highnorthnews.com, Sval­bard­pos­ten, regjeringen.no.

Jan May­en 2016: one seat available

One fle­xi­ble and deter­mi­ned expe­di­tio­ner can join us in June 2016 on our expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en on short noti­ce – one seat has beco­me available again due to a can­cel­la­ti­on. This is your chan­ce to join us on 13th June 2016 in Ísaf­jörður, when we set sail for Jan May­en to spend an exci­ting (rough­ly) 6 days the­re, poten­ti­al­ly inclu­ding the opti­on to climb Bee­ren­berg or to hike all over the island, as far as you can and want to.

For more infor­ma­ti­on about this ama­zing as well as deman­ding trip, click here or get in touch.

Click here for some pho­tos and pan­ora­mas from Jan May­en. The­re is also a link to the web­cam of the Nor­we­gi­an sta­ti­on on Jan May­en.

Jan May­en: view to Bee­ren­berg. One per­son can join us again in June 2016 on our sai­ling, hiking and clim­bing expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en.

Expedition Jan Mayen 2016: one seat available

Polar bear near Lon­gye­ar­by­en anaes­the­ti­zed and flown out

The Sys­sel­man­nen has deci­ded to anaes­the­ti­ze the polar bear and to fly it out and far away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. This was prompt­ly done in coope­ra­ti­on with the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, which is rou­ti­ne­ly doing simi­lar ope­ra­ti­ons in con­nec­tion with field work. The polar bear is now flown out towards the east, to be released some­whe­re safe and far away from the sett­le­ments.

Accor­ding to Sys­sel­man­nen and Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, this ope­ra­ti­on was more gent­le for the polar bear than sca­ring it away with heli­c­op­ters.

Two pho­tos from the ope­ra­ti­on

The polar bear in Advent­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en short­ly after anaes­the­tiza­ti­on. Bio­lo­gists are doing some inves­ti­ga­ti­ons befo­re it is loa­ded into the heli­c­op­ter.

polar bear Longyearbyen

The heli­c­op­ter with the polar bear on its way to the east.

polar bear Longyearbyen

Polar bear near Lon­gye­ar­by­en

A polar bear in the clo­se vici­ni­ty of Lon­gye­ar­by­en is not an ever­y­day event, it is the first time sin­ce Octo­ber 2014. The poli­ce is out with heli­c­op­ter and snow mobi­le to make sure the situa­ti­on is kept under con­trol, while many onloo­kers are gathe­ring on the rim of Lon­gye­ar­by­en near Advent­da­len.

The bear is on the shore­li­ne in Advent­da­len, may­be (rough esti­ma­te) 2 km away from town. And he (or she?) is the only one who does not care about all the exci­te­ment: he is lying, slee­ping and doing not­hing so far.

Polar bear in Advent­da­len, may­be 2 km away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The pho­to was taken from Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Polar bear near Longyearbyen

Polar bear shot at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken

A polar bear was shot on Satur­day at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken, on the north coast of Spits­ber­gen.

A group of four ski tou­rists from Finn­land, on Spits­ber­gen for a 3 week trip, was on Ver­le­gen­hu­ken when the men were approa­ched by the polar bear. Initi­al­ly, they could sca­re it away with a signal pis­tol, but then the bear approa­ched again and a rif­le shot was fired from a distance of 35 met­res. The polar bear was woun­ded and went away. The group alar­med the Sys­sel­man­nen. Offi­ci­als arri­ving by heli­c­op­ter mana­ged to find the bear in a snow cave in a cliff and shot it.

The body of the polar bear was taken to Lon­gye­ar­by­en for a post mor­tem. Until now, it is only known that it was a male bear weig­hing 116 kg. The weight sug­gests that it was a young ani­mal, pos­si­bly mal­nu­tri­tio­ned in addi­ti­on. But this is not con­firm­ed infor­ma­ti­on.

The case will rou­ti­ne­ly be a mat­ter of poli­ce inves­ti­ga­ti­on to estab­lish wether or not it was a case of self defen­se. In case of care­less­ness, the law opens for fines or even impri­son­ment.

The last time a polar bear was shot was in March 2015 in Tem­pel­fjord.

Pho­to – Polar bear shot at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken

The polar bear at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken, which was shot on Satur­day (pho­to © Ire­ne Sæter­moen / Sys­sel­man­nen på Sval­bard).

polar bear Verlegenhuken

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Barents­burg – 16th April, 2016

April is show­ing off with the best of clear, sta­ble, cold win­ter wea­ther. A trip to Barents­burg often starts with a view over Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Dri­ving along the coast is a regu­lar part of fre­quent tou­rist tours to Barents­burg, but you may not like the short, but steep ascents, espe­ci­al­ly when the sur­face is fro­zen over, if you are not used to dri­ving a snow mobi­le.

Who would have expec­ted to see a wal­rus on a win­ter trip to Barents­burg? We also saw Reinde­er and even White wha­les (Belugas), but too far away to take pho­tos.

Gal­lery – Barents­burg – 16th April, 2016

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

Barents­burg its­elf looks part­ly like a big arc­tic ver­si­on of Lego­land after seve­ral years of refur­bish­ment. The choice of colours of some of the buil­dings might be a mat­ter of deba­te, but others are real­ly beau­tiful. Lenin is medi­ta­ting as always, the view direc­ted into the distance. Impos­si­ble to say what he would say about the colours.

Sur­ging gla­ciers in Spits­ber­gen

Seve­ral of Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers are on the move. A rather sud­den type of advan­ce cal­led gla­cial sur­ge is lin­ked to the inter­nal mecha­nics of ice move­ment. The­se gla­ciers are buil­ding up ice volu­me in the catch­ment area over deca­des to dischar­ge this within rela­tively short time (typi­cal­ly 1-2 years), some­thing that invol­ves rapid move­ment of up to an impres­si­ve 10 meters per day or even more. As a result, sur­ging gla­ciers are usual­ly stron­gly crev­as­sed.

This beha­viour has recent­ly been obser­ved at Penck­breen (Van Keu­len­fjord) and Aavaats­mark­breen. It is also curr­ent­ly known from other Sval­bard gla­ciers. Around 2014, the advan­ce of parts of the ice cap Aus­t­fon­na has attrac­ted atten­ti­on.

The sur­ge beha­viour is lin­ked to ice dyna­mics and not to a cli­ma­ti­cal­ly indu­ced posi­ti­ve mass balan­ce. Altog­e­ther, Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers are suf­fe­ring from a signi­fi­cant loss of ice volu­me, with a ten­den­cy to incre­asing speed of loss in recent years due to cli­ma­te chan­ge.

Sur­ging gla­ciers in Spits­ber­gen – Penck­breen Sur­ge

The sur­ging gla­cier Penck­breen (foto April 2016 © Stig Onar­heim, with fri­end­ly per­mis­si­on).

Penckbreen surge

Source: Felt­logg, Svalbardglaciers.org.


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