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Home → September, 2017

Monthly Archives: September 2017 − Travelblog


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 …

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.

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.

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.

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!

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