spitzbergen-3
fb  Polar Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  
Marker
Home → September, 2017

Monthly Archives: September 2017 − News & Stories


Longyearbreen – 29th September 2017

We pay another little visit to Longyearbreen. How great is it to have this kind of playground so close to town? Meltwater is rushing down the channels, it is well worth to look for fossils in the moraine, and then there is ice, ice, ice. Also on the glacier, there are meltwater streams in deeply incised channels, which sometimes disappear down into black holes. The polished surface of the ice shows beautifully alternating patterns of clear, blue ice and dark layers with stones and (natural) dirt.

Gallery – Longyearbreen – 29th September 2017

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

A lovely way to finish the time that we can still, at least in a wider sense, call the arctic summer. Now, this arctic traveller will return to the office. Also there, mountain ranges have piled up on the rather recent geological history 🙂

Endalen – 27th September 2017

The following days in and around Longyearbyen show how much luck we have had on the last trip with Antigua. Now, we don’t see the smallest bit of blue sky for days on end, and usually only the lower half of the mountains surrounding us. The sun does not rise high anymore, and as it is constantly hidden behind the cloud cover, it seems pretty dark even at daytime. It is just over 4 weeks ago that the sun was shining bright for 24 hours a day, and in just about 4 weeks from now we won’t see any of it at all for some time!

Good days altogether to get things done inside. And there is of course more than enough to do after months out in the field 🙂 but still, we just have to get out, the tundra is calling, the lonely valleys … you don’t have to venture far from Longyearbyen to find natural beauty, silence and solitude. You don’t always have to go as far as Hinlopen Strait. Endalen and Fardalen have got their own charm.

It is pretty mild, with temperatures well abov the freezing point, so the rivers still have a lot of water. In other years, you could cross even larger rivers in hiking boots without getting wet feet when the frost was strong enough already at this time of year, but not this time. So we have to find our way, cross some meltwater streams and find a way around the waterfall in upper Endalen by climbing up the moraine of Bogerbreen. A huge landscape of stones, mud and ice, a real ice age world. You could spend a lot of time here, discovering amazing stuff, enjoying the ice, looking for fossils, but the days are getting shorter while the way does not. It is more than 20 km for today.

Gallery – Endalen – 27th September 2017

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

Most people will know Longyearpass with its steep slope that is leading from upper Longyearbreen down to Fardalen from the winter season. Many snow mobile groups take this route then, for example on the way to or from Barentsburg. The slope can be challenging, especially when there is soft snow and poor visibility, and it has brought snow mobile drivers regularly into troubles. Pieces of torn V-belts and other debris are silent witnesses of those events. It may not seem much of a problem when you drive past it at speed, but in the summer, the plastic seems – well, it is! – very much out of place and quite disgusting. Well, not too many people come here in summertime, although it is just about 6 km from Nybyen, the nearest part of Longyearbyen.

There is still Longyearbreen between Fardalen and Longyearbyen. Its icy surface is blank as a mirror now after the rain that we have had the last days, so we are more than happy that we carried the crampons all the way. Without them, it would be very dangerous to attempt the hike down the glacier now, but with them, it is actually great fun. During the last part of it, the clouds are coming down, together with the darkness that is setting in, so it is hard to see the way and the moraine with its meltwater streams actually looks a bit threatening. Good to know where to go. The last meltwater river, coming down from Larsbreen, is almost big enough now to give us a footbath in our hiking boots, but who cares, we have reached the road and soon, the frying pan is getting hot on the cooker …

Several polar bears observed near settlements

Several polar bears have been seen near Longyearbyen and other settlements in the past few weeks.

Polar bears look cute, but can be nasty when they are looking for food

Polar bears Longyearbyen

One of the bears – a 17-year-old male – had to be anesthetized and transported by helicopter to Nordaustlandet in the north-east of Spitsbergen, after devastating several huts at Kap Laila River between Longyearbyen and Barentsburg on 15 September. Polar bear expert Jon Aars from the Norwegian Polar Institute confirmed, that this was already the bears second flight with a helicopter. The polar bear was marked as a cub and already registered in 2001, when he destroyed a hut together with his brother and mother. The mother was also observed later in similar burglaries.

This is not an unusual behavior for a polar bear, says Jon Aars. Some polar bears even seem to have specialized in hut burglaries. But to stun the polar bears and fly them out can just be a short-term solution. Last year in April a polar bear from Longyearbyen was flown to the island of Nordaustland several hundred kilometers away. Only one year later he was back at the Isfjorden.

At the beginning of September, a female polar bear with two cubs was observed at Revneset – a few kilometers north of Longyearbyen. Three attempts have already been made to hunt them away by means of a helicopter. The three bears returned twice after a few days and reappeared near Longyearbyen. After the third attempt, the bears have not yet been seen again.

Another polar bear with two cubs was observed near Svea and several bears were seen near Isfjord radio at Kapp Linné the last month.

The fact that so many polar bears appear in the vicinity of human settlements in such a short time does not occur too often, but is probably coincidence. Jon Aars believes that such visits could occur more often in the future, as polar bears have been protected for many years. Genetic research shows that polar bears tend to visit the same areas for several generations. People in Longyearbyen will probably have to get used to frequent visits of polar bears. Or the other way around.

Polar bear mum with cub

Polar bear Longyearbyen

Source: Svalbardposten

Italian lost and found

After the search after a sailing boat last week, SAR (search and rescue) forces from Sysselmannen and Red Cross were, only a few days later, again out on a major mission. On Saturday afternoon at 16.20 hours, the local hospital in Longyearbyen received a call from an Italian person who was stuck on a steep slope and not able to move. The man said that he could see the airport, without giving further details about his position. Next to lack of local knowledge, language difficulties may have come in here. He finished the conversation without leaving his name or contact details, so it was not possible to contact him again later.

Hence, SAR forces had to move out in darkness and strong winds. The Red Cross searched Platåberget, which is situated near the airport, with about 30 people. Finally, a light signal was seen on a steep slope above the sea on Fuglefjella, between Bjørndalen and Litle Bjørndalen. Strong winds prevented SAR forces from reaching the area by helicopter, so the Red Cross had to walk a longer distance to get to the site. Shortly after 5 a.m. the man was finally rescued; he had spent at least about 13 hours in his position. All involved got back to Longyearbyen thereafter in good condition.

The incident shows how important it is to have at least basic local knowledge and means of orientation as well as the ability to make a proper emergency call if worst comes to worst. Next to some knowledge of a language used locally, or at least a contact who can provide that, this involves the correct local emergency contacts (the Sysselmannen), name and phone number. The man was in very steep terrain, in darkness, strong wind and without local knowledge and orientation. The incident provides a negative example in several ways.

The steep slope of Fuglefjella between Bjørndalen and Litle Grumantdalen on a nice summer day, where an Italian tourist was rescued early Sunday morning in darkness and wind.

Italian Fuglefjella

Source: Svalbardposten

Isfjord – 21st September 2017

This days comes as a contrast, showing us how it could have been much more often: grey and wet. We have been very lucky with many good days with great light!

The rather dark light and weather fits the desolate atmosphere of Barentsburg, where we spend the morning. The russian settlements have been part of Spitsbergen for the best part of a century!

Later, we try our luck finding orcas and polar bears that have recently been seen in Isfjord. No luck with the wildlife, so we make a short, quiet final landing not far from Kapp Wijk in Dickson Land, to say goodbye to the arctic tundra.

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

A few hours later, we are alongside in Longyearbyen, and a great trip comes to an end.

Krossfjord – 20th September 2017

Krossfjord is such a huge area with many side bays! As we do only have one day here, we have planned the day according to a rather strict schedule, just for the contrast, against our usual habits. We manage to have a look at the mighty Lilliehöökbreen and then to visit a German war weather station, all during the morning. The afternoon starts in a bay further east, with rugged alpine mountain scenery and a wild glacier that is cascading down over steep rockwalls. Later, we find a polar bear resting on the tundra. It seems to be quite tired, but it is sitting up occasionally, so everybody can get some good views. We spend some time with this observation, so we skip a final landing of this days. We rather enjoy the fantastic BBQ buffet that Sascha and his team have created for us, and the amazing evening light that the sun, which is already under the horizon at this time, paints on the clouds.

Later, we lift anchor and set course for Isfjord.

Gallery – Krossfjord – 20th September 2017

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

A morning full of worries, an afternoon full of joy – 19th September 2017

The morning started with a message that caused great concern. The Norwegian search and rescue service had received an emergency signal from a sailing boat that had came into trouble yesterday during the storm. Helicopters had searched the area already last night, a coastguard vessel was approaching. Nobody had heard anything from the sailing boat so far, so the worst had to be feared. All vessels in the area – not that it were that many – were asked to assist, and so we did without any hesitation. The coastguard asked us to search Fuglefjord and Holmiabukta, and so we did with feelings of fear.

Then came the information from the coastguard that the boat had been found »in good condition«, the SAR mission was over. No further information. All souls well! Very pleased to hear that!

We turn around and head for Raudfjord, where we spend a lovely hour in the late morning in Hamiltonbukta. In the afternoon, September shows what it can do on a good day. Deep sun over rugged mountains, warm light on reddish-brown rocks. An amazing afternoon!

Gallery – Raudfjord – 19th September 2017

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

Sailing boat lost and found

There have been strong winds up to storm force in northern Spitsbergen yesterday (Monday). Two smaller boats seem to have gotten into potentially serious difficulties. Emergency signals have been triggered and search and rescue forces are in the area with helicopters and coast guard ships.

SV Antigua (where the present author is on board) is also in the area, but we did not have more problems than some cases of seasickness during our sailing passage yesterday. So SV Antigua is NOT affected by any serious problems.

Update: after several hours searching in the northwest of Spitsbergen, where also several tourist ships including SV Antigua assisted, the boat was on Tuesday found „in good condition“. The SAR mission was officially abandoned by the coast guard. It was later stated that it was a local boat from Longyearbyen. The emergency signal position was from Magdalenefjord, while the boat was found in Wijdefjord, almost 100 km away as the ivory gull flies. The emergency signal had been trigger automatically without the crew being aware of it; probably, the emergency beacon was lost in heavy seas and triggered itself.

Wind force 8 on Monday at the north coast of Spitsbergen. Photo © Alexander Lembke.

Storm Spitsbergen

Strong wind up to storm force in North Spitsbergen

There have been strong winds up to storm force in northern Spitsbergen yesterday (Monday – 2017/09/18). Two smaller boats seem to have gotten into potentially serious difficulties. Emergency signals have been triggered and search and rescue forces are in the area with helicopters and coast guard ships.

SV Antigua (where the present author is on board) is also in the area, but we did not have more problems than some cases of seasickness during our sailing passage yesterday. So SV Antigua is NOT affected by any serious problems.

Update: after several hours searching in the northwest of Spitsbergen, where SV Antigua also assisted, the boat was found »in good condition«. The SAR mission was officially abandoned by the coast guard. At the moment, no further details regarding the identity of the boat or other are available.

Update: According to Svalbardposten, it was a local sailing boat from Longyearbyen. The emergency beacon was lost and automatically activated during heavy weather. The crew was not aware of that.

Source: Rolf Stange via OnSat-Mail directly from SV Antigua

A lot of wind – 18th September 2017

According to the weather forecast, today should have been our day for a landing on Moffen. Little wind and hopefully calm seas. So we left Mushamna in the morning with high spirits and soon we set sails – this in itself should have made us suspicious, and actually, it did – and course for Moffen. Soon, the wind and sea picked up, and quickly it became clear that Moffen was not a place to be today. So we turned to the west, Raudfjord or so. Meanwhile, the wind had picked up, force 7 to 8, 9 in gusts, and the waves were quite impressive. Real sailing, which many enjoyed on deck, but it has to be said that not everybody enjoyed it.

Photo – A lot of wind – 18th September 2017

The sea was boiling white in Breibogen, no chance for a sheltered anchorage. We found shelter later in the afternoon in Svenskegattet. The wind continued to blow, with heavy gusts, so we enjoyed a relaxed day on board, with presentations and a film and of course the cinema outside, with the impressive display of nature’s powers.

Woodfjord – 17th September 2017

The day starts with quite a bit of wind as we enter inner Woodfjord – but promising at the same time, with a lot of holes in the clouds, and the sun is breaking through. It is casting its light over an amazing display of colours: a blue fjord, framed by deep-red mountains and green tundra. Colours!

We enjoy the scenery, while we are sailing further into the fjord, always keeping an eye open for polar bears that often roam along these shore. Later, we roam a bit along these shores during a landing, making some precise observations of the amounts of plastic litter that you find between all the driftwood logs and in the sand. The data will be used by the German Alfred Wegener Institute for a research project about plastic pollution in the marine environment. May it help to solve the problem!

Gallery – Woodfjord – 17th September 2017

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

Later, we see a polar bear on a slope, but far away. In Mushamna, we seize the opportunity of some nice hiking, before we round the day off with a very atmospheric fire on the beach.

Liefdefjord – 16th September 2017

We wake up to a golden sunrise in Liefdefjord and we enjoy the stunning scenery during some good hikes during the morning. The clouds are coming down later and there is even a little bit of rain as we drift near Monacobreen later, but this does not matter as far as the deep blue colour of the glacier and some icebergs is concerned.

Gallery – Liefdefjord – 16th September 2017

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

Late afternoon on a little island within Lernerøyane, we get the feeling of being (almost) the first people to walk around here, in this untouched nature.

Northwest-Spitsbergen – 15th September 2017

A golden day in a classical area. Here in Smeerenburgfjord, where the whalers were suffering from harsh weather in their thin woolen clothes 400 years ago, we enjoy a brilliant day in calm, clear and even sunny weather. In Virgohamna, we visit the place where Andrée and Wellman started their famous north pole expeditions. Harbour seals are resting on rocks in a shallow bay.

Gallery – Northwest-Spitsbergen – 15th September 2017

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

Much larger seals are resting on the beach a bit further north, on Amsterdamøya. A whole group of walrusses is sunbathing there, without any respect for the historical blubber ovns of Smeerenburg.

Kongsfjord – 14th September 2017

The early morning view may have surprised some of us: civilisation! Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen’s northernmost settlement, with her various sights and excitements. Under the most beautiful september sun.

Later, it is time to enjoy some first impressions of real arctic tundra. The reindeer bulls are fat and in great shape, ready for the mating season and for the polar winter. We enjoy coastal caves and impressive panoramic views, both from land and later during a visit to the glaciers in innermost Kongsfjord.

Gallery – Kongsfjord – 14th September 2017

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

Trygghamna – 13th September 2017

It is still quite windy, so we seek shelter in the innermost part of Trygghamna for our first landing. Still windy, but pretty calm water – and sunny! A lovely start in impressively scenic surroundings.

Later, we see a polar bear lying on the tundra near Alkhornet. It does not do anything, and it is far away and difficult to see. Let’s hope for more.

Gallery – Trygghamna – 13th September 2017

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

We continue under sail into Forlandsund, where we round the day off with an evening visit to a glacier in stunning light.

Back

News-Listing live generated at 2018/November/14 at 20:42:23 Uhr (GMT+1)
css.php