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Monthly Archives: September 2017 − News & Stories

Isfjord – 12th Sep­tem­ber 2017

Today, we are start­ing with SV Anti­gua again! We are gathe­ring on board for the first time in the after­noon, and after the usu­al wel­co­me pro­ce­du­res and man­da­to­ry safe­ty ins­truc­tions, we lea­ve the pier – under sails. The eas­ter­ly bree­ze that we have had for some time comes in very han­dy now. We sail sil­ent­ly into Isfjord and into a magni­fi­cent sun­set. After a cou­ple of hours, the anchor is going down in Trygg­ham­na, well shel­te­red – the name trans­la­tes as »Safe har­bour« – by rug­ged moun­ta­ins.

Gal­lery – Isfjord – 12th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

1600 liters of die­sel lost in Mimerd­a­len

1600 lit­res of die­sel were lost on Fri­day during a heli­c­op­ter flight in Mimerd­a­len near Pyra­mi­den. The fuel was han­ging under the heli­c­op­ter to be trans­por­ted to a sta­ti­on on a moun­tain west of Pyra­mi­den ope­ra­ted by Lon­gye­ar­by­en air­port for aeri­al navi­ga­ti­on.

A rope bro­ke during the flight, so the die­sel fell down and cra­s­hed on the gra­vel plain of the river bed. It could not be retrie­ved and was lost in the envi­ron­ment: in the river gra­vel, one of the many small rivers or final­ly in the fjord.

The heli­c­op­ter was ope­ra­ted by Luft­trans­port, a com­pa­ny that is also respon­si­ble for the heli­c­op­ter logi­stics of the Sys­sel­man­nen, inclu­ding Search and Res­cue ope­ra­ti­ons. The inci­dent is curr­ent­ly under inves­ti­ga­ti­on.

Mimerd­a­len near Pyra­mi­den, whe­re 1600 lit­res of Die­sel were lost from a heli­c­op­ter on Fri­day.


Quel­le: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Sum­mer hiking rou­te up to Lars­breen des­troy­ed by lands­li­de

The moun­ta­ins and gla­ciers around Lon­gye­ar­by­en have a lot of gre­at hiking oppor­tu­ni­ties. Right now it looks like the­re is one less: the wes­tern part of the morai­ne of Lars­breen, which is part of the popu­lar sum­mer rou­te ascen­ding Lars­breen towards the gla­cier its­elf or the near-by moun­ta­ins (Troll­stei­nen, Sar­ko­fa­gen) has been stron­gly affec­ted by lands­li­des this sum­mer. This is gene­ral­ly a natu­ral pro­cess in a morai­ne area that con­sists of a thing lay­er of sedi­ment res­t­ing on steep slo­pes of clear gla­cier ice. The area had alre­a­dy been affec­ted by minor lands­li­des in recent years.

This summer’s lands­li­des took the area with the hiking rou­te from Lon­gye­ard­a­len up to Lars­breen. Now, the­re is a steep slo­pe of most­ly expo­sed gla­cier ice cover­ed with a thin lay­er of sedi­ment (mud and stones). The “way” below the slo­pe is expo­sed to fur­ther lands­li­des and rock­falls and hence curr­ent­ly not a safe alter­na­ti­ve.

It remains to be seen if the win­ter rou­te can still be used. Win­ter and sum­mer rou­tes are slight­ly dif­fe­rent and frost and snow chan­ge the ter­rain signi­fi­cant­ly. Mean­while, Lon­gye­ar­breen and Vann­led­nings­da­len remain gene­ral­ly available as hiking rou­tes up to Lars­breen, Sar­ko­fa­gen and Troll­stei­nen.

View from Gru­vef­jel­let to the morai­ne of Lars­breen. The area recent­ly affec­ted by lands­li­des is rough­ly mark­ed by the red cir­cle (the pho­to was taken befo­re the­se lands­li­des hap­pen­ed).

Larsbreen moraine landslide

Pyra­mi­den – 08th Sep­tem­ber 2017

It does not mat­ter how much time you spend in Pyra­mi­den, the­re are always some more hid­den cor­ners that you have not been to befo­re. The­re is always some­thing new to dis­co­ver. Are­as that had indus­tri­al func­tions during the days of acti­ve mining. It is not always easy to find out what the func­tion may have been. The­re is a buil­ding whe­re oxy­gen was pro­du­ced for use in the mine, and a radio sta­ti­on. The­re are old mine ent­ran­ces. How old they are? Good ques­ti­on. May­be the­re is some stuff still from the Swe­dish days? Any­way, the­re are a lot of inte­res­t­ing details, and pho­to­gra­phy is gre­at fun here.

Gal­lery – Pyra­mi­den – 08th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

The gra­vey­ard of Pyra­mi­den – 07th Sep­tem­ber 2017

I have to admit that I had never been to the gra­vey­ard of Pyra­mi­den befo­re. So it was defi­ni­te­ly time for a visit. It is a bit out­side of the sett­le­ment, in the midd­le of the river plain in Mimerd­a­len.  

Gra­vey­ards can be silent sto­rytel­lers. They do not give us living peo­p­le any details, but you can spend a lot of time with your own thoughts about what may have hap­pen­ed to tho­se who came here to stay. It can be quite impres­si­ve, in a way.

At a clo­ser look, you will find 43 gra­ves. 31 epi­taphs have got names. All of them but one have got the year of birth and death, respec­tively. The­se peo­p­le here died bet­ween 1950 and 1988. The­re are five child­ren among­st them, who died in the year they were born or in the year the­re­af­ter, in one case. All of them were born in the 1950s, just to lea­ve the world again imme­dia­te­ly. The others did not get very old eit­her, most of them died bet­ween 20 and 40 years old. The avera­ge is 26.6 years.

Gal­lery – The gra­vey­ard of Pyra­mi­den – 07th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Four girls and women were laid to rest among­st all the men. Two of them are among­st tho­se poor child­ren who never got a chan­ce to lea­ve Pyra­mi­den. One young woman died at the age of 18. What brought her to Pyra­mi­den at that age? Why did she die? This place does not pro­vi­de ans­wers, just ques­ti­ons. Grim ques­ti­ons.

Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2017

Every time when in Pyra­mi­den, I am impres­sed by the moun­tain on the other side of the val­ley. It bears the slight­ly stran­ge name Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen, deri­ved from a term used in Nor­se mytho­lo­gy. Old viking stuff, has got some­thing to do with a tree. The­re are no trees here the­se days.

Any­way, Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen is impres­si­ve. A migh­ty moun­tain, ver­ti­cal rock cliffs with huge pro­tru­ding should­ers in a good 500 m alti­tu­des, towe­ring high abo­ve big scree slo­pes. Beau­tiful colours and an inte­res­t­ing geo­lo­gi­cal struc­tu­re. Devo­ni­an Old Red forms the bulk of the moun­tain, being sepa­ra­ted from the Car­bo­ni­fe­rous car­bo­na­te lay­ers on the top by the Sval­bar­di­an uncon­for­mi­ty. Upper­most upper Devo­ni­an. I am sure you know what I am tal­king about.

But that was not actual­ly the point today. The point was not to have „only“ the view from Pyra­mi­den to Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen, as always, but the oppo­si­te per­spec­ti­ve, from Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen to Pyra­mi­den. Hoping to dis­co­ver a good rou­te for future trips, I ven­tu­red out on my own. In case the rou­te would not be fea­si­ble, some­thing I was not sure about befo­re I actual­ly went, being on my own would make it easier to turn around if neces­sa­ry. The group was hiking up mount Pyra­mi­den with Alex and Dani­el, so ever­y­thing was in best order the­re.

The way across Mimerd­a­len was easy and enjoya­ble, thanks to an old Rus­si­an earth road and even a bridge. But ascen­ding the moun­tain was a dif­fe­rent thing! The­re was actual­ly no ascent visi­ble from sea level, so I put all my hopes on a cor­ner which I could not see from down below. Rocks, rocks, rocks and a litt­le bit of easy clim­bing in the end – ever­y­thing fine as long as the frost-shat­te­red rock would stay whe­re it was – and I was up on top. Yeah!

The view? Ama­zing. And I enjoy­ed the who­le thing, hiking along the who­le edge of Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen. From the nor­the­as­tern cor­ner, you have got a stun­ning view over Bil­lefjord, from Petu­ni­abuk­ta in the north through Nor­dens­ki­öld­breen in the east to Sas­senfjor­den in the south. Just ama­zing!

Gal­lery – Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen – 06th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

The hike along the edge of the pla­teau did take some time. Two litt­le gla­ciers had car­ved their respec­ti­ve cir­ques into the slo­pes, which both requi­red some detours. But the bet­ter were the views from the rid­ges pro­tru­ding towards Mimerd­a­len bet­ween the­se cir­ques. The most stun­ning view comes pro­ba­b­ly at the eas­tern point of Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen. Coun­ter-clock­wi­se, you look out from Nor­dens­ki­öld­breen over Pyra­mi­den (moun­tain and sett­le­ment), Mun­ind­a­len and the inner rea­ches of Mimerd­a­len. Just ama­zing! I may have used that phra­se befo­re, but it is sim­ply appro­pria­te. Of cour­se I took a 360 degree pan­ora­ma. It had been a bit of work to drag the equip­ment up the moun­tain, but it was more than worth it!

Des­cen­ding from the moun­tain was yet ano­ther inte­res­t­ing ques­ti­on. I was men­tal­ly pre­pared to return the same rou­te I had come, just in case. The ascent on the eas­tern side had not actual­ly been a com­for­ta­ble rou­te, and I was hoping to find ano­ther, bet­ter way. But the first view down from the eas­tern side of Ygg­dra­sil­kam­pen was not exact­ly encou­ra­ging: not­hing but steep, high rock cliffs. No way to get down the­re! So I went on to the south and final­ly I found a slo­pe that I could use. Still pret­ty steep, with end­less fields of loo­se stones, but it work­ed. And I was inde­ed quite hap­py not to walk the who­le way back. But I have to admit that it is not a gre­at way for ever­y­day use.

After a long des­cent, I final­ly got to a Rus­si­an hut at a litt­le lake in Mimerd­a­len. Per­fect to rest again for a litt­le while and to eat the last bis­cuits befo­re taking the last few kilo­me­t­res back to Pyra­mi­den. It amoun­ted to almost 20 kilo­me­t­res in total. I have to admit that I could have done wit­hout that annoy­ing cold. But it was the per­fect day for this kind of hike, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty was just too good to be missed!

Bil­lefjord – 05th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The last blog ent­ry was from Bil­lefjord a few weeks ago, and now I start again in Bil­lefjord. After all, it is one of Spitsbergen’s most beau­tiful fjords!

The idea was to spend a cou­ple of days in Pyra­mi­den. Not just the usu­al 2 hours, which lea­ve you with 8 minu­tes here and 12 minu­tes the­re. The­re are tho­se who say that you will not find the essence of Spitsbergen’s beau­ty in a deser­ted Rus­si­an coal mining sett­le­ment, and yes, the­re is some­thing about that. Pyra­mi­den is some­thing dif­fe­rent. What you find the­re is the slight­ly bizar­re fasci­na­ti­on of … well … a deser­ted Rus­si­an coal mining sett­le­ment in the Arc­tic. And that is more than enough for a cou­ple of days

So we moved the­re with a few litt­le things that we nee­ded for some days. A fresh pair of socks, some cho­co­la­te, some came­ra gear. After all, we wan­ted to have some fun. The trip to Pyra­mi­den went quick­ly, thanks to the wea­ther, the sce­n­ery and the tra­di­tio­nal pro­ce­du­res on board. Some­thing with whis­ky and gla­cier ice.

Pyra­mi­den gave us a very fri­end­ly wel­co­me, start­ing from a wea­ther per­spec­ti­ve. First impres­si­ons in stun­ning evening light, as it comes on a fine Sep­tem­ber evening. Some­thing July sim­ply can­not pro­vi­de in the­se lati­tu­des! It is gre­at to find new per­spec­ti­ves on well-known impres­si­ons and to find new details. You will always find some­thing new in Pyra­mi­den, it is just a mat­ter of kee­ping one’s eyes open.

Gal­lery – Bil­lefjord – 05th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

By the way, you may almost come to Pyra­mi­den for a well­ness holi­day the­se days! They have done a lot to make the hotel a plea­sant place to be. The „Sov­jet style“ rooms have kept the atmo­sphe­re of the old days, but it is nice to stay the­re. And the stuff that comes out from the kit­chen … not bad, not bad at all!


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