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Yearly Archives: 2018 − News & Stories

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.



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.





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.



Sjuøya­ne – 17 July 2018

The wea­ther is real­ly on our side! The first thing is a pret­ty rare landing on Wal­denøya, a small and remo­te island, in a mir­ror-like sea today. Defi­ni­te­ly a place that does not see a lot of visi­tors! Wal­ter Well­man was stran­ded here for a cou­ple of weeks with his expe­di­ti­on in 1894. We sit on the rocks and enjoy the sun and the undis­tur­bed view to the north pole.



It is sun­ny and calm all the way up to Ros­søya, so we enjoy a Zodiac crui­se around this islet, Svalbard’s very nor­t­hern­most one. Fur­ther north, the­re is just water, liquid and solid, and the north pole. A rare sun­ny day in the­se lati­tu­des!



An evening excur­si­on to Phippsøya does not yield wal­rus­ses, as we had been hoping for, but a polar bear. Which show­ed up on a pret­ty short noti­ce as we had just gone ashore. Alex, who was scou­ting the ter­rain, had the plea­su­re to dis­co­ver the bear, which had been slee­ping in a ter­rain depres­si­on, at a rather uncom­for­ta­ble distance, but it was not at all inte­res­ted in us and tur­ned its atten­ti­on to a rather rot­ten car­cass of a wal­rus. We went back into the boats and enjoy­ed the views in safe­ty for man and beast. A gre­at day on 80 degrees north!



Kongsfjord & Anti­gua under sail – 14 July 2018

A calm night at anchor, gre­at! Hiking over Blom­strand­hal­vøya is at least as gre­at. The coas­tal sce­n­ery is real­ly varied and inte­res­t­ing, espe­ci­al­ly if you know some of the hid­den places bey­ond Ny Lon­don.



Then we set cour­se to the north. The wind is a bit less than expec­ted, but enough to fill the can­vas, so we enjoy a silent crossing under sail and a sky the colours of which are chan­ging back and forth bet­ween grey, sil­ver and even blue in places.



Bock­fjord – 16 July 2018

It is gre­at to be out for a full, long day in Spitsbergen’s beau­tiful natu­re. And the warm springs far inland in Bock­fjord are fasci­na­ting. A gre­at desti­na­ti­on for a long hike! We spend hours get­ting the­re, hiking across tun­dra with ple­nty of flowers and a river plain that looks like kind of a wad­den sea. After an exten­ded rest with some food, we have soon rea­ched the fields with the sin­ter ter­races. Natu­re has inde­ed crea­ted some very impres­si­ve pie­ces of art here! All this comes with a stun­ning back­ground: a migh­ty wall of dark-red moun­ta­ins, some huge morai­nes and rug­ged moun­ta­ins.



We enjoy the sce­n­ery, the wea­ther, the hike and life in gene­ral for a full day. It is a tim­e­l­ess place. We are back on board after 9 hours.



Of cour­se the­re was also the opti­on for walks within a „nor­mal“ sca­le. The­re are also warm springs clo­se to the shore, and ano­ther walk went to a near­by gla­cier.

The wea­ther fore­cast is pro­mi­sing for the far north, so we set cour­se nor­the­ast in the evening.

A week on Anti­gua and taking off again with SVA Anti­gua – 12 July 2018

Time is just fly­ing in the sum­mer arc­tic. Not­hing too ama­zing going on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Some­bo­dy mana­ged to park a car in a pond next to the road in Advent­da­len. One is tempt­ed to ask: why? I don’t know. Nobo­dy was hurt, at least. Some tou­rists thought that huts in the wil­der­ness are prin­ci­pal­ly open for ever­y­bo­dy. This is not the case. It took the poli­ce to get this mes­sa­ge across in this given case. It also took the poli­ce to con­vin­ce two fema­le tou­rists that you have to lea­ve the boat when the trip was over even if it did not meet your expec­ta­ti­on. Peo­p­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en don’t know if they should laugh or cry some­ti­mes. In yet ano­ther case, the poli­ce found ver­te­bra of mari­ne mammals in some tourist’s lug­ga­ge at the air­port. Not good. One day, when MSC Merag­li­vi­via was in the har­bour, the num­ber of peo­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en tri­pled.

Make sure you don’t end up on the wrong ship!

Make sure you don’t end up on the wrong ship!

Soon we will take off with SV Anti­gua. Time to check a huge pile of equip­ment, sort stuff, repair some items, replace other ones. So time is fly­ing as usu­al, and sud­den­ly Anti­gua is in the har­bour. An immense pile of equip­ment needs to be car­ri­ed on board and then it is alre­a­dy time for take-off. Wel­co­me on board and here we go! We are steam­ing against a bree­ze out of Isfjord and then turn into For­lands­und. Spits­ber­gen, here we come!

Wood­fjord – 15 July 2018

Gråhu­ken! We are not far from this famous cape as we wake up. A light bree­ze is blo­wing from the nor­thwest, but not too much, it is not a pro­blem to land and we are hap­py to pay a visit to the famous hut whe­re Chris­tia­ne Rit­ter win­tered in 1934-35 (she immor­ta­li­zed her adven­ture in the book „A woman in the polar night“). I have got a very spe­cial reason to be hap­py to get to this hut now, and today’s visit is inde­ed humbling and tou­ch­ing. More about that later.



In a later stage of today’s landing at Gråhu­ken, a polar bear turns up. It is a safe distance, and he (or she) turns around and moves away as soon as he (or she) gets awa­re of us. So do we.



An excur­si­on to one of the small islands in Lief­defjord turns out to be a visit to an arc­tic para­di­se. Colours, struc­tures, birds. Ple­nty of them.

Kongsfjord & Anti­gua unter Segeln – 14. Juli 2018

Eine ruhi­ge Nacht vor Anker, herr­lich! Min­des­tens so herr­lich war die Tour auf der Blom­strand­hal­vøya. Die Küs­ten­land­schaft ist sehr abwechs­lungs­reich, vor allem, wenn man ein paar bestimm­te Ecken kennt. Es gibt nicht nur Ny Lon­don, son­dern noch so ein paar rich­tig schö­ne, ver­steck­te Stel­len.



Dann set­zen wir Kurs Nord. Der Wind pus­tet zwar nicht ganz so fröh­lich wie erwar­tet, aber immer noch fröh­lich genug, um die Tücher zu fül­len, und so genie­ßen wir die Stil­le unter Segeln und einem Him­mel, des­sen Far­ben zwi­schen Grau, Sil­ber und punk­tu­el­lem Blau oszil­lie­ren.



Kongsfjord & Kross­fjord – 13 July 2018

Our first day out and away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en! Our first stop is Ny-Åle­sund in Kongsfjord, a gra­du­al tran­si­ti­on from civi­li­sa­ti­on to wil­der­ness. The vil­la­ge is calm today, goo­se fami­lies are fee­ding on the tun­dra bet­ween the hou­ses. While we walk around, Alex gives a talk about the past and pre­sence of Ny-Åle­sund, I give a talk about Roald Amund­sen and all the north pole expe­di­ti­ons through the cen­tu­ries and as we hap­pen to meet Mar­ten Loo­nen, lea­der of the Dutch Arc­tic Sta­ti­on, we even get the latest news about Bar­na­cle geese, Com­mon eider ducks and their rather unre­la­xed rela­ti­onship to polar bears that look for food on the bree­ding islands of the­se birds in Kongsfjord.

Camp Zoë

Camp Zoë

We sail up Kross­fjord in the after­noon, land at Camp Zoë, an old Rudi-/Mans­field-hut and do various walks and hikes in the tun­dra and up the hills. The sur­roun­ding moun­ta­ins are very impres­si­ve. We share the tun­dra with reinde­er, ptar­mi­gan and a lonely polar fox and enjoy the view of some white hor­ses on the blue water of Kross­fjord.



An evening visit to Tinay­re­breen is the icing on the cake on this day, a Fri­day the 13th. It is Anke’s and Chris­tia­ne Ritter’s bir­th­day today. Hap­py bir­th­day!

Lands­li­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: road open again for pede­stri­ans and bicy­clists

Way 300 in Lon­gye­ar­by­en was clo­sed for all traf­fic after a lands­li­de clo­se to the ceme­ta­ry. This road con­nects Skjæringa (the part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en whe­re church, Sys­sel­man­nen etc. are loca­ted) and Huset.

The Sys­sel­man­nen has now ope­ned Way 300 again for pede­stri­ans and bicy­clists. Moto­ri­sed traf­fic is not per­mit­ted. This is valid until fur­ther noti­ce from the Sys­sel­man­nen.

landslide Longyearbyen cemetery

Lands­li­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en near the ceme­tery: now way 300 is open again for non-moto­ri­sed traf­fic. Image © Alex­an­der Lembke.

Hur­tig­ru­ten bans dis­posable pla­s­tic

On July 2, the tra­di­tio­nal ship­ping com­pa­ny Hur­tig­ru­ten cele­bra­tes its 125th bir­th­day and at the same time gives a pre­sent to the envi­ron­ment: From today on Hur­tig­ru­ten wants to banish all dis­posable pla­s­tic from its ships. No pla­s­tic straws, no stir­rers in pla­s­tic cof­fee cups, no pla­s­tic lids and not a sin­gle pla­s­tic bag should then be found on the ships.

This is only logi­cal: ship tra­vel­lers wit­ness the pol­lu­ti­on of the oce­ans with pla­s­tic was­te every day. Most of the pla­s­tic in the oce­ans comes from fishing, but pla­s­tic bot­t­les, pla­s­tic bags or other ever­y­day pla­s­tic artic­les also end up on Norway’s bea­ches by the ton and too often end up in the sto­machs of sea­birds, fish and wha­les.

Plastic waste in Mushamna/ Spitsbergen

Pla­s­tic was­te in Mushamna/ Spits­ber­gen

The ban on dis­posable pla­s­tic artic­les will be effec­ti­ve across the enti­re Hur­tig­ru­ten fleet, i.e. both on the legen­da­ry pos­tal ship rou­te from Ber­gen to Kir­kenes, as well as on crui­se ships in polar waters and in all land-based faci­li­ties and also on Spits­ber­gen.

Hurtigruten’s ambi­tious long-term goal is even to beco­me the first pla­s­tic-free ship­ping com­pa­ny in the world. Even if the­re is cer­tain­ly still much room for impro­ve­ment in the crui­se ship indus­try in terms of pol­lu­ti­on and CO2 emis­si­ons, the ban on dis­posable pla­s­tic is a wel­co­me step in the right direc­tion.

Soon free from diposable plastic: Hurtigruten museumsship in Stokmarksnes

Soon free from diposable pla­s­tic: Hur­tig­ru­ten muse­ums­ship in Stok­marks­nes

Source: Hur­tig­ru­ten

Lands­li­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: road clo­sed

A lands­li­de from Pla­tå­ber­get crossed the road near the ceme­tery in Lon­gye­ar­by­en a few days ago. Nobo­dy was inju­red and the event was not seen by anyo­ne, as far as known, but the road from the old muse­um to Huset has been clo­sed by the Sys­sel­man­nen for safe­ty reasons until fur­ther noti­ce.

It is not the first lands­li­de in this area. Pre­vious events had trig­ge­red a deba­te to move the ceme­tery to a safer loca­ti­on near the church to pre­vent it from pos­si­ble dama­ge, but no decis­i­ons have been made so far.

Smal­ler lands­li­des as the recent one are gene­ral­ly a com­mon and well-known phe­no­me­non on slo­pes like the one near the ceme­tery. They may occur any­whe­re on simi­lar slo­pes in the field, espe­ci­al­ly in the ear­ly sum­mer, after the snow mel­ting peri­od. Lands­li­des of this type are nor­mal­ly not too fast, so hikers should be able to move away and into safe ter­ri­to­ry wit­hout dif­fi­cul­ties. But the dan­ger poten­ti­al has to be con­side­red for exam­p­le when put­ting up a tent, and the­re are other types of lands­li­des and mud­flows that invol­ve more water and hig­her velo­ci­ties. In June 1992, a sci­en­tist was kil­led by a tor­ren­ti­al slush ava­lan­che in Lief­defjord.

landslide Longyearbyen cemetery

Lands­li­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en near the ceme­tery. Image © Alex­an­der Lembke.

Pata­go­nia under sail 2018: tri­plog and fotos

Fol­lo­wing to the tri­plog and pho­tos of our Ant­ar­c­tic expe­di­ti­on with SY Anne-Mar­ga­re­tha in ear­ly 2018, we have now got the Pata­go­nia tri­plog with asso­cia­ted pho­to coll­ec­tions and some short sto­rytel­ling online. With the log, sto­ries and pho­tos, you can join us retro­s­pec­tively at no cost and enjoy Patagonia’s won­derful­ly wild land­scapes and water­ways with no “risk” of wind and waves, sea­sick­ness and cold – have fun!

Patagonia 2018, SY Anne-Margaretha and Rolf Stange: triplog, stories, photos

Hiking on one of Patagonia’s many remo­te islands.

And yes, we are fair­ly con­fi­dent that this Pata­go­nia adven­ture was not the last one of its kind, the­re is still so much to dis­co­ver! We have no dates fixed yet, and it won’t hap­pen as ear­ly as the next aus­tral sea­son (2018/19), but we’ll return to Pata­go­nia, no doubt!

But first, I’ll soon return to Spits­ber­gen! So my arc­tic tra­vel blog will get new stuff regu­lar­ly from July onwards.

Polar bear obser­ved clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Less than a week after the polar bear visit to Kapp Lin­né, which made it big in inter­na­tio­nal media, ano­ther polar bear was seen near a sett­le­ment in Spits­ber­gen. This time, it was Lon­gye­ar­by­en, the main sett­le­ment.

The bear was seen for the first time Fri­day evening in Advent­da­len clo­se to the old airst­rip, some kilo­me­t­res sou­the­ast of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, wal­king to the sett­le­ment.

Soon, the Sys­sel­man­nen was on site with the heli­c­op­ter, the polar bear had alre­a­dy come quite clo­se to town. Scared away by the heli­c­op­ter, the bear moved to Hior­th­hamn, oppo­si­te of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Later, when the bear was seen swim­ming in Advent­fjor­den, a group having a par­ty with a fire on the beach in Lon­gye­ar­by­en was evacua­ted – a safe­ty mea­su­re wit­hout any dra­ma, the bear was not seen any­whe­re near the site.

polar bear, Adventfjord

Polar bear in Advent­fjord, not far from Lon­gye­ar­by­en (archi­ve image, 2014).

The polar bear was seen for the last time Satur­day around noon on the way into Sas­senfjord. Sin­ce then, its whe­re­a­bouts are not know, and the aut­ho­ri­ties have clo­sed the “case” until fur­ther obser­va­tions may be made and repor­ted by anyo­ne in the field.

It is said that the bear was a lar­ge male. The­re were no situa­tions dan­ge­rous for humans or the bear.

The case shows how important it is to be alert and pre­pared also in the area clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Spits­ber­gen under sail with SV Anti­gua in July 2018: dou­ble cabin available

18 inten­se days in Spits­ber­gen on SV Anti­gua, a 3 mast sai­ling ship – a dream voya­ge for arc­tic enthu­si­asts! Now the­re is the chan­ce to join us on our voya­ge in July (12-29, 2018). Ful­ly boo­ked sin­ce long ago, two beds in a dou­ble cabin are now available again after a can­cel­la­ti­on.

This trip will be Ger­man spea­king … you don’t have to be able to wri­te poems in Ger­man, but if you have basic know­ledge good enough for ever­y­day com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, then – wel­co­me!

Spitsbergen under sail, SV Antigua July 2018

Spits­ber­gen under sail with Anti­gua in July 2018: two beds in dou­ble cabin available.

So – get in touch an wel­co­me on board! Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on about this voya­ge.

Plea­se don’t hesi­ta­te to cont­act Rolf Stan­ge for any ques­ti­ons about the itin­era­ry, the ship, Spits­ber­gen, equip­ment etc. or the Geo­gra­phi­sche Rei­se­ge­sell­schaft (Geo­gra­phi­cal tra­vel­ling socie­ty) for reser­va­tions and boo­king.


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