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Home* Triplogs with photo galleriesArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → 2017 reviewed: April in Spitsbergen – Sveagruva

2017 reviewed: April in Spitsbergen – Sveagruva

After the big Antarctic Odyssey, I went straight up to Longyearbyen. One long trip from the southernmost regular airport in the world to the northernmost one, from the Beagle Channel to Isfjord, for a couple of weeks of arctic winter before the summer season was about to start. The atmosphere in Spitsbergen is stunning in early April, when there is still “warm” light. Sunsets that turn into sunrises, no night in between, just a bit of hauntingly beautiful twilight. The blue-red hour is longer than 60 minutes on 78 degrees latitude. “Warm” in inverted kommas, obviously 🙂

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A highlight that remains a vivid memory was actually the trip to the coal mining settlement of Sveagruva, because it turned out to be a unique opportunity. Coal mining was on standby at that time, there was only maintaince going on, but no production despite the opening of a brand new coal mine at Lunckefjellet in February 2014. It never went into productive operation. So the Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani had decided to open Sveagruva for limited tourism. It was even possible to visit the coal mine, Svea Nord.

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As the decision was made in Oslo in October 2017 that the days of coal mining in Sveagruva are over, the place and associated coal mines will be closed. It seems quite unlikely that there will be tourism or any other activitiy there in the future. So it is good to have used that opportunity to visit Sveagruva and the mine, Svea Nord and to get a good impression of coal mining, which was the dominant activitiy in Spitsbergen for a century. And a coal mine is a fascinating place, indeed!

But then, it is good to get out and back to the sun, does not set anymore. To get back to the endless snow plains, to our beloved east coast, where the sea does still freeze in April, where you can find beautiful ice …

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Talking about fjord ice: a Russian group made a tragic experience with fjord ice in Tempelfjord in late April, when their snow mobiles broke through the ice. Several people went into the water and could only be saved under dramatic circumstances by the Norwegian SAR forces. Tragically, one guide died later in the hospital.

last modification: 2018-01-02 · copyright: Rolf Stange