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Daily Archives: 27. September 2017 − News & Stories

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


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