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Daily Archives: 11. January 2018 − News & Stories


August 2017 reviewed: Lady Franklinfjord, Rossøya and further highlights

The police raid on the local drug scene – which is not the world’s biggest one – was probably the biggest public excitement in August in Longyearbyen. They have to show every couple of years that drugs are not tolerated in such a small and remote community. This appears not to have been a great success this year, as they had to release those again who were initially taken in custody. But on the other hand, if you find out in the end that nothing much had happened (at least as far as you have evidence for), then it is not a bad thing either, is it?

As far as I am concerned, I continued around Svalbard on board Arctica II (“advanced Spitsbergen”; there is still, by the way, an empty seat on this (German speaking) trip in 2018). In that sense, August started in late July, as that’s when we left Longyearbyen again. And on the very same day we could venture for a lovely walk on Bohemanflya. Which is really not far away from Longyearbyen, but you have to have the right weather for a landing there, and we did!

Bohemanflya

Grave on Bohemanflya.

The weather continued to be fine for some time. I don’t know how many times I had sailed up and down the northern west coast of Spitsbergen, between Kongsfjord and Magdalenefjord, that bit of coast that is known as “Dei Sju Isfjella” (“the seven icebergs”) since the 17th century? And I had never been ashore on this exposed, wild coastline! Obviously a situation that could not be tolerated forever. In bright sunshine and amazingly calm seas, we went ashore in Kvedfjordbukta and enjoyed life there for a while, feeling that we might be the first people there in many years. And that may actually have been pretty close to the truth. A good feeling that we could enjoy yet another couple of times during this trip!

Kvedfjordbukta

Kvedfjordbukta: rare opportunity for a landing there in perfect conditions.

This includes the amazing days in Lady Franklinfjord and – a geographic highlight in the truest sense of the word – the landing on Rossøya, the northernmost bit of land in the whole of Svalbard. Not that it is a very significant island beyond its furthest north position. But it is the northernmost one. That’s already more than good enough, isn’t it? 🙂

Rossøya

There is no land in Svalbard north of Rossøya.
Heinrich Eggenfellner is putting us ashore.

In this way I could continue, raving on about many lovely landings, but we did certainly not ignore the wildlife either. Nobody of the small number of people who were there will forget that polar bear sighting on Edgeøya. And the same is true for the wild passage around the south cape and the adventurous landing that followed on the west coast.

Polar bear, Edgeøya

A walrus (dead) and a polar bear (very much alive) on Edgeøya.

Oh yes, and then we still managed to finish the Spitsbergen calendar 2018 in late August. We are getting better every year, even though it was not available in July, as I had been hoping for. But as you can see, we were not lazy in the book (& related) publishing department either!

Spitsbergen-Calender 2018

The Spitsbergen calendar 2018 came out in August.

July 2017 reviewed: the south cape, polar bears and arctic Christmas

Considering public news, July was a rather calm month in Spitsbergen. Which is great. No news are good news. Of course, there is always something, but all within reason. The reindeer were doing well, there were no avalanches and no extreme weather situations. We could pretty much just enjoy!

And so we did, mostly with SV Antigua. We started actually already in late June, and the first highlight – I am coming to my personal perspective – came quickly in shape of a rare landing near Spitsbergen’s south cape (Sørkapp).

Sørkapp Land

Landing close to Sørkapp (the south cape) of Spitsbergen.

Other people who were there with me will probably rather remember the Blue whale that we saw close up later the same day, or the polar fox family a day later. And no doubt, these are all precious memories. But for me personally, well, I just love rare landings, these hidden places that almost nobody knows and even fewer people ever get to. But these places to all have their secrets. More often than not, there is something exciting to discover!

Blue whale, Storfjord

Blue whale in Storfjord.

But still, the wildlife is a big chunk of Spitsbergen’s beauty. And the sighting of a female polar bear with one cub who were feasting on the remains of a dead whale on Danskøya were amongst the highlights of these weeks!

Polar bears, Danskøya

Happy polar bear family and an unhappy whale on Danskøya.

And if you ask anyone who was on board, then I am sure most will tell you that the landing on an ice floe is one of the most precious memories that they took home from this great trip. How often do you have the chance to stand on drift ice on 80 degrees north? Feel like Nansen! But not for 3 years … we left a bit earlier.

Ice landing on 80 degrees north

Ice landing on 80 degrees north.

Back in Longyearbyen, I could finally finish my arctic Christmas book (German only, sorry). The second book that I could finish and get printed this year, after the Norwegian version of my Svalbard guidebook! Finally, considering the arctic Christmas book, as I have to admit. It took me a good 10 years since I started with this one! Making a book does always take time, but in this case one of the main problems had been someone who would be able to create the drawings that I had on my mind for this book. Until I saw last year – also on Antigua, by the way – what Norbert Wachter could do with a pencil and a sheet of paper. So we went, and here we are! Done! 🙂

Arktische Weihnachten

The arctic christmas book: finally in print in late July.

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