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Monthly Archives: July 2018 − News & Stories


Isfjord – 31 July 2018

It was just a short stop in Lon­gye­ar­by­en to get used to civi­li­sa­ti­on and road traf­fic again, be it with engi­nes or fea­thers, and then we took off again into the big, wide, open, arc­tic world. This time with Arc­ti­ca II. Advan­ced Spits­ber­gen! Pål Remen had alrea­dy been our skip­per in 2015, he has spent the last win­ter with his part­ner on the trap­per sta­ti­on at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set. Moni­ka Hil­ler com­ple­tes the team as a gui­de, and we are joi­ned by 9 fel­low explo­rers, so we are rea­dy to go!

Advent­da­len

Adventdalen

We have a dream start in Isfjor­den, with bright sunshi­ne, the water lying like a mir­ror, and a wide pan­or­amic view. The clouds over Trygg­ham­na loo­ked qui­te dra­ma­tic, but that was the only dra­ma­tic thing about the wea­ther even the­re. A polar bear was swim­ming across the fjord, the first one for us in this trip, only a few hours after lea­ving Lon­gye­ar­by­en! We didn’t real­ly get to see him at clo­ser distance, but nevertheless – gre­at!

Isfjord

Isfjord

Isfjord

Isfjord

It was qui­te fog­gy in For­landsund, so most of us had gone to bad when the anchor fell long after mid­ni­ght.

Trygg­ham­na

Trygghamna

Trygg­ham­na

Trygghamna

Polar bear attack on Phipp­søya: man inju­red, polar bear shot – first details

The polar bear attack on Phipp­søya (Sjuøya­ne, Sval­bard) from Satur­day is dis­cus­sed in media and social media world­wi­de. The Sys­sel­man­nen (gover­nor, poli­ce) has released some details, but a lot of ques­ti­ons remain so far.

At 08.30 a.m. (local time), a group of 12 staff mem­bers of the crui­se ves­sel MS Bre­men went ashore on Phipp­søya to pre­pa­re a lan­ding for pas­sen­gers. The group was atta­cked on land by a polar bear, which did not react to shou­ting and shoo­ting with signal pis­tols. The bear atta­cked a 42 year old Ger­man staff mem­ber who suf­fe­red head inju­ries. The man was taken to the hos­pi­tal and later Trom­sø, his con­di­ti­on is sta­ble.

The bear was shot by 2 other mem­bers of the group and later flown to Lon­gye­ar­by­en by heli­co­p­ter for inves­ti­ga­ti­ons.

This is the infor­ma­ti­on which has been released offi­cial­ly. All infor­ma­ti­on which cir­cu­la­tes in cur­rent public dis­cus­sions bey­ond this is spe­cu­la­ti­ve.

Polar bear attack Svalbard

Polar bear on Phipp­søya, a fre­quent­ly used lan­ding site on Sjuøya­ne nort­hern­most in Spits­ber­gen (archi­ve image).

Nordfjord – 28 July 2018

We spent the last day in Nordfjord, name­ly in one of its nort­hern bran­ches cal­led Ekmanfjord. Ama­zing how the land­s­capes of Spits­ber­gen could still sur­pri­se and ama­ze us after a trip that felt like mon­ths long. The pro­tru­ding cliffs of the moun­tains remind of gothic cathe­drals.

Blomesletta

Tun­dra on Blo­mes­let­ta.

A walk and a long hike, accord­ing to choice, took us across a wide-open tun­dra area with some hills and lakes, whe­re we enjoy­ed various flowers, birds, the colours of the tun­dra and all the details that the arc­tic has to offer.

Blomesletta Rentiergeweih

Rein­de­er ant­ler in a lake on Blo­mes­let­ta.

Wahlen­berg­breen is a very acti­ve gla­cier and the place that Rolf cho­se for our fare­well to Spits­ber­gen. We moved silent­ly bet­ween many litt­le ice­bergs and ber­gy bits with the Zodiacs to enjoy and say good­bye to the Arc­tic – for this time.

Wahlenbergbreen

Wahlen­berg­breen: gla­cier and moun­tains.

A friend­ly Hump­back wha­le waved us good­bye with the flu­ke just befo­re we went along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Humpback whale Adventfjord

Hump­back wha­le in Advent­fjord.

Polar bear attack on Sjuøya­ne: man inju­red

A man was inju­red by a polar bear today (Satur­day, 28 July) on Sjuøya­ne. The man sur­vi­ved with inju­ries, the bear was shot, as the Sys­sel­man­nen infor­med today.

The polar bear atta­cked per­sons who went ashore from the crui­se ship MS Bre­men. He is said to be a crew mem­ber ser­ving as polar bear guard, pre­pa­ring a tou­rist lan­ding. He suf­fe­red head inju­ries; no infor­ma­ti­on has yet been released about serious his inju­ries are. The man was brought to the hos­pi­tal in Lon­gye­ar­by­en by heli­co­p­ter.

The inci­dent will be inves­ti­ga­ted by the Sys­sel­man­nen, but first prio­ri­ty is given to pro­vi­si­on of medi­cal care to the inju­red man.

Polar bear attack Svalbard

Polar bear on Phipp­søya, a fre­quent­ly used lan­ding site on Sjuøya­ne nort­hern­most in Spits­ber­gen (archi­ve image).

Isfjord – 27 July 2018

Bar­ents­burg gave us much more of a friend­ly wel­co­me than we had fea­red last night: not only had the wea­ther clea­red up, but a polar fox came to the har­bour during bre­ak­fast to say hel­lo!

Barentsburg

The morning walk through the Rus­si­an sett­le­ment brought not just the visu­al con­trasts that one is safe to expect here, but also a wealth of know­ledge regar­ding 20th cen­tu­ry histo­ry and poli­tics of Spits­ber­gen.

Barentsburg
Isfjord Segeln Antigua

The after­noon star­ted with a lot of wind and some gre­at sai­ling across Isfjord, befo­re we found a place in Borebuk­ta shel­te­red enough to explo­re a bit of morai­ne and tun­dra land­s­cape. In the evening, we brought out some cheers on this gre­at trip which was about to come to an end soon.

Isfjord Segeln Antigua
Tunrdaodden

Fors­b­la­dod­den- 26 July 2018

We were curious about the expe­ri­ence of the trek­king group who had spent the night with Alex in a camp some­whe­re in a hid­den val­ley in Nathorst Land. They came back in the late morning after a rather wet and win­dy night and a solid hike in For­kas­t­nings­da­len, hap­py about the expe­ri­ence and also hap­py to get back on board and warm up again with some hot cho­co­la­te!

Fors­b­la­dod­den

Forsbladodden

Fors­b­la­dod­den

Forsbladodden

Mean­while, the „nor­mal” peop­le had ven­tu­red across Fors­b­la­dod­den and into lower reaches of For­kas­t­nings­da­len, mee­ting some very friend­ly rein­de­er and explo­ring the land­s­cape which was so rich in struc­tu­re on big­ger and smal­ler sca­les.

Fors­b­la­dod­den

Forsbladodden

Fors­b­la­dod­den

Forsbladodden

In the after­noon, we set sail, hea­ding north towards Isfjord. At some sta­ge we made up to 8-9 knots, but later the wind fell away, some­thing that can not be said about the swell so we were rather hap­py to enter Isfjord in the late after­noon. Once along­side in Bar­ents­burg, most of us went to explo­re the pro­ducts of the bre­we­ry in the sty­lish new bar.

Bar­ents­burg

Forsbladodden

Bellsund – 25 July 2018

The swell last night on the way up to Bellsund had not exact­ly made the night bet­ter, and most of us were qui­te hap­py to get into shel­te­red waters again in Bellsund in the very ear­ly morning hours.

Tom­tod­den

Tomtodden

We gave the day a rela­xed start and made a litt­le walk along the coast in Recher­chefjord, whe­re a Rus­si­an expe­di­ti­on had built a sta­ti­on in 1764, almost a litt­le vil­la­ge of 16 houses. None is stan­ding any­mo­re, of cour­se. Rolf told the sto­ries of this adven­ture and others such as the French Recher­che-Expe­di­ti­on, who­se bra­ve sci­en­tists clim­bed Obser­va­to­rief­jel­let many times for their work, the crui­se ship Mon­te Cer­van­tes which mana­ged to reach Recher­chefjord after being dama­ged by ice in 1928 (she sank in ear­ly 1930 clo­se to Ushua­ia), the tou­ris­tic hopes of Kon­sul Gjæ­ver, who had left a croo­ked hut here, and 8 Eng­lish wha­lers who had been left here by acci­dent in 1630. They were found in the fol­lowing year in good shape. Lots of sto­ries for such a litt­le fjord! The oldest bits of histo­ry were actual­ly geo­lo­gi­cal traces of an ice age more than 600 mil­li­on years ago, which have now come to the sur­face again just to be pushed around again by a gla­cier!

Snat­cher­pyn­ten

Snatcherpynten

Snat­cher­pyn­ten

Snatcherpynten

In the after­noon, we drop­ped a litt­le group of bra­ve hikers off, who ven­tu­red on a cros­sing from Van Mijen­fjord to Van Keu­len­fjord. We hoped to see them again tomor­row in good shape and set off to Akseløya to explo­re this sple­ndid bit of sce­ne­ry and geo­lo­gy as the last one of today’s adven­tures.

Snat­cher­pyn­ten

Snatcherpynten

Akseløya

Akseløya

Bellsund – 25 July 2018

The swell last night on the way up to Bellsund had not exact­ly made the
night bet­ter, and most of us were qui­te hap­py to get into shel­te­red
waters again in Bellsund in the very ear­ly morning hours.

Tom­tod­den

Tomtodden

We gave the day a rela­xed start and made a litt­le walk along the coast
in Recher­chefjord, whe­re a Rus­si­an expe­di­ti­on had built a sta­ti­on in
1764, almost a litt­le vil­la­ge of 16 houses. None is stan­ding any­mo­re, of
cour­se. Rolf told the sto­ries of this adven­ture and others such as the
French Recher­che-Expe­di­ti­on, who­se bra­ve sci­en­tists clim­bed
Obser­va­to­rief­jel­let many times for their work, the crui­se ship Mon­te
Cer­van­tes which mana­ged to reach Recher­chefjord after being dama­ged by
ice in 1928 (she sank in ear­ly 1930 clo­se to Ushua­ia), the tou­ris­tic
hopes of Kon­sul Gjæ­ver, who had left a croo­ked hut here, and 8 Eng­lish
wha­lers who had been left here by acci­dent in 1630. They were found in
the fol­lowing year in good shape. Lots of sto­ries for such a litt­le
fjord! The oldest bits of histo­ry were actual­ly geo­lo­gi­cal traces of an
ice age more than 600 mil­li­on years ago, which have now come to the
sur­face again just to be pushed around again by a gla­cier!

Snat­cher­pyn­ten

Snatcherpynten

Snat­cher­pyn­ten

Snatcherpynten

In the after­noon, we drop­ped a litt­le group of bra­ve hikers off, who
ven­tu­red on a cros­sing from Van Mijen­fjord to Van Keu­len­fjord. We hoped
to see them again tomor­row in good shape and set off to Akseløya to
explo­re this sple­ndid bit of sce­ne­ry and geo­lo­gy as the last one of
today’s adven­tures.

Snat­cher­pyn­ten

Snatcherpynten

Akseløya

Akseløya

Horn­sund – 24 July 2018

The wind that blew through Horn­sund last night was qui­te impres­si­ve and our first ancho­ra­ge in Gås­ham­na was not real­ly shel­te­red. Both anchors were on the ground but drag­ging as the wind picked even fur­ther up, so we had to repo­si­ti­on in the midd­le of the night, a rather lively affair with litt­le sleep.

Mendeleevbreen

At least it was calm in the morning, so we could go ashore in Adria­buk­ta without pro­blems. Soon, howe­ver, the wind picked up again, this time from the wrong direc­tion, so we made sure we got back to the ship befo­re we might end up in trou­ble. It was rai­ny and fog­gy any­way.

Burgerbukta

Deep in inner­most Horn­sund, it was nice and clear, so we could enjoy some gre­at views of the gla­ciers and moun­tains the­re.

An impres­si­ve collec­tion of ice­bergs pro­vi­ded the final high­light of the day, which had been grey and wet, but still beau­ti­ful, in its very own way.

Sai­ling around Sør­kapp – 23 July 2018

Today is the day to return to the west coast. It should be the per­fect wea­ther win­dow, accord­ing to the fore­cast. Initi­al­ly, the wind let a bit to be desi­red and we had to rely on the engi­ne rather than the sails. At least it was per­fect­ly calm. Near the south cape, the wind star­ted to pick up, and one sail after the other went up until we made 10 knots under can­vas – no engi­ne! Gre­at! Calm enough to do pre­sen­ta­ti­ons about polar bears, Spitsbergen’s flo­ra and to show some his­to­ri­cal pain­tings.

Sørkapp

Hornsund

Free­man­sund – 22 July 2018

An over­night pas­sa­ge brought us to Free­man­sund, whe­re we spent the morning on Edgeøya in a wide tun­dra land­s­cape with well-deve­lo­ped phe­no­me­na such as ice wed­ges and anci­ent beach rid­ges. The spe­ci­es diver­si­ty of the tun­dra is as impres­si­ve as the amount of drift­wood on the coast, and unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly also the amount of plastic trash on the beach. At least, the­re was signi­fi­cant­ly less of the lat­ter left after our visit than the­re had been befo­re.

Aane­set

Aaneset

We spent an extre­me­ly plea­sant after­noon tog­e­ther with several thousand kit­ti­wa­kes and a fami­ly of polar foxes.

Bue­delf­jel­let

Buedelfjellet

Hin­lo­pen II – 21 July 2018

In the morning, we have got Alkef­jel­let next to us. An extre­me­ly impres­si­ve place, whe­re arc­tic life is con­cen­tra­ted on a sca­le that is hard to under­stand or even just to belie­ve.

Alkef­jel­let

Alkefjellet

After an excur­si­on in a polar desert fos­sil para­di­se, we have yet ano­t­her mira­cle of arc­tic natu­re in front of the ship: the ice cliff of Brås­vell­breen, a part of the huge ice cap of Aus­t­fon­na. A touch of icy infi­ni­ty.

Alkef­jel­let

Vibebukta

Bras­vell­breen

Brasvellbreen

Hin­lo­pen – 20 July 2018

We have reached the beau­ti­ful Hin­lo­pen Strait! Last night we pas­sed the long ice cliffs of Aus­t­fon­na and Brås­vell­breen, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly hid­den in the fog, but the­re were a lot of ice­bergs.

Ard­ne­set

Ardneset

We paid a visit to a wal­rus colo­ny. The num­ber of ani­mals pre­sent was not actual­ly impres­si­ve, but to our sur­pri­se, it did not mat­ter too much; the two wal­rus­ses were rela­xed and some of their friends came along for a visit. They had a good time and so did we.

Ard­ne­set

Ardneset

In the after­noon, a small team of bra­ve expe­di­tio­ners was rea­dy to start an over­night hike with tents and ever­ything across Sca­nia­hal­vøya, aiming at a calm camp some­whe­re in a wide val­ley bet­ween the ice caps. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, a yel­low dot far away in the tun­dra tur­ned out to be a slee­ping polar bear, so we had to can­cel this adven­ture and the hikers joi­ned the various after­noon walks in Augus­t­abuk­ta. We explo­red the wide coas­tal plain which had a sur­pri­sin­gly rich diver­si­ty of flowers in same pla­ces and a lot of fos­sils in others. A litt­le herd of rein­de­er tur­ned out to be pret­ty curious. Later, the wind cal­med down and the sun came out and we had beau­ti­ful evening light on the wide gla­ciers and ice caps near­by befo­re we moved into some fog banks.

Augus­abuk­ta

Augustabukta

Kvi­tøya – 19 July 2018

We ven­tu­red out to the remo­test parts of Spits­ber­gen, the island of Kvi­tøya in the nor­the­ast of the Sval­bard archi­pe­la­go, not far from Rus­si­an Franz Josef Land. This is whe­re Salo­mon August Andrée, Knut Fræn­kel and Nils Strind­berg reached land for the first time again after a bal­loon flight of 3 days and more than 2 mon­ths of mar­ching across the drif­ting ice. They star­ted to get rea­dy for the win­ter, but died all after a short time for rea­sons which we will never real­ly find out for sure.

And­ree­n­e­set

Andreeneset

It needs a lot of luck to get to this place. Even today, Kvi­tøya is often sur­roun­ded by ice, and when this is not the case, then the surf is often going high on the expo­sed coast. And when this is not the case, then the­re are often some polar bears han­ging around. The way from the shore to the place whe­re Andrée, Fræn­kel and Strind­berg had their final camp is short, but not easy to walk.

Today, we are lucky! It is a bit fog­gy, which fits the atmo­s­phe­re of this deso­la­te place per­fect­ly well.

Duve­fjord – 18 July 2018

A beau­ti­ful day in a beau­ti­ful area at the end of the world, in a litt­le bay in the remo­te nor­the­ast of the remo­te Nord­aus­t­land. See­min­gly empty polar desert, full of colours and struc­tures.

Relikt­buk­ta

Reliktbukta

Alber­ti­ni­buk­ta

Albertinibukta

After some hours of sai­ling in unknown waters near rocky islands, we reach a bay with a huge gla­cier and many ice­bergs. Wal­rus­ses are in the water every here and the­re, and then we dis­co­ver three polar bears who are cros­sing the fjord. A mother and two first-year cubs. They swim bet­ween the ice­bergs befo­re they climb up the steep slo­pe.

Alber­ti­ni­buk­ta

Albertinibukta
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