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Yearly Archives: 2017 − News & Stories


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.

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.

Mimerdalen

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!

The new Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2018 is avail­ab­le!

The new Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2018 is here, fresh from the prin­ter, and rea­dy for orde­ring and ship­ping! Sin­ce 2012, the Spits­ber­gen calen­dar has almost beco­me a litt­le, annu­al tra­di­ti­on: 12 beau­ti­ful pho­tos take you through the arc­tic sea­sons. We will enjoy polar land­s­capes and light, wild­life and ice. From the polar night with the stun­ning auro­ra, the nort­hern lights, to the bright mid­ni­ght sun, from a fro­zen water fall in the cold win­ter to the flowers that bring lovely colours to the tun­dra in the arc­tic sum­mer. And of cour­se we meet some of the big ani­mals, as we obser­ve a curious polar fox having a look at a bunch of lazy wal­rus­ses and we encoun­ter two very young twin polar bears some­whe­re on a fro­zen fjord.

The new Spits­ber­gen-calen­dar 2018 is avail­ab­le now.

Spitsbergen-calendar 2018

Click here for fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on about the new Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2018, inclu­ding pre­views of all pages and the opti­on to order. As always, the calen­dar is avail­ab­le in two sizes, A3 and A5, to suit your wis­hes and needs. And you can save money by orde­ring more than one – Christ­mas will come soon enough! 🙂

Over­view of all pages of the new Spits­ber­gen-calen­dar 2018. Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on, inclu­ding lar­ger views.

Spitzbergen-Kalender 2018

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