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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → 2017 review­ed: June, Jan May­en – the lava caves on Bee­ren­berg

2017 review­ed: June, Jan May­en – the lava caves on Bee­ren­berg

I have to start with a con­fes­si­on: I for­got the main exci­te­ment in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in April: the town was run­ning out of toi­let paper! Peop­le in arc­tic Lon­gye­ar­by­en seem to a sur­pri­sin­gly lar­ge degree be wil­ling to accept cli­ma­te chan­ge, they keep cool when the Rus­si­an mili­ta­ry sup­po­sed­ly exer­ci­ses attacks on their home, who cares, some loss is part of the game. But no toi­let paper any­mo­re? That’s serious busi­ness!

The exci­te­ment about the sup­po­sed floo­ding of the seed vault / “dooms­day vault” falls into a simi­lar cate­go­ry. Inde­ed, in Octo­ber 2016, during a peri­od with a lot of rain, the­re was some water com­ing into the ent­ran­ce area of the vault. That should not have hap­pen­ed and tho­se who were con­cer­ned with it were not hap­py and some money was to be spent to get things right, but what had actual­ly hap­pen­ed was far from being any real dra­ma. But that came more than half a year later in inter­na­tio­nal media. Someo­ne hap­pen­ed to pick up that mar­gi­na­li­um, spi­ced it with some dra­ma, tole­rant­ly over­loo­ked that it had all hap­pen­ed more than half a year ago and blew it out into the world, whe­re it was picked up by sur­pri­sin­gly many media, inclu­ding some serious ones. Nobo­dy came on the idea to check what had real­ly hap­pen­ed, the­re was a lot of recy­cling of copied infor­ma­ti­on and that is usual­ly not a good idea. Che­cking the seed vault’s web­site would have been enough, but that was obvious­ly too much to ask for. Well, I am hap­py that this web­site did not fol­low the hype.

Regar­ding my own polar per­spec­ti­ve, Jan May­en was the main event in June. For the fourth time, I went to that vol­ca­nic island in the north, 3 days of sai­ling from Ice­land, on a small boat across a big sea. Jan May­en is an extre­me­ly fasci­na­ting place. The more time you spend the­re, the more you rea­li­ze how much the­re is to see. As usu­al, we made a lot of kilo­me­tres during our various hikes. Next to many other impres­si­ons, the lava caves on Bee­ren­berg were the main thing for me this time. While a group of moun­tai­neers clim­bed up to the peak of Bee­ren­berg (whe­re I had been in 2015), I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explo­re a cou­p­le of lava caves in Schmelck­da­len on the south slo­pe of Bee­ren­berg. Stun­ning! It is a bizar­re fee­ling to be actual­ly insi­de Bee­ren­berg, in the guts of this arc­tic vol­ca­no. I pro­bab­ly don’t have to men­ti­on that it is a hard-to-get-to place. That was my high­light in June.

Bäreninsel: Perleporten

Lava cave in Schmelck­da­len on Bee­ren­berg, Jan May­en.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2018-01-05 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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