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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Sas­send­a­len and Tem­pel­fjord

Sas­send­a­len and Tem­pel­fjord

The win­ter keeps show­ing off with cold, sta­ble wea­ther and the sun is clim­bing a tiny litt­le bit hig­her every day. We make use of such grand con­di­ti­ons as often as pos­si­ble to enjoy the out­doors in this ama­zing coun­try, to which the light is now retur­ning with might.



Here, we are in Sas­send­a­len. It is big and wide, one of Spitsbergen’s lar­gest val­leys. At this time of year, it is one of the most fre­quent­ly used snow mobi­le rou­tes, to the east coast or to Tem­pel­fjord. But it is so big that it is easy to find a silent cor­ner wit­hout traf­fic.


Hiking in Sas­send­a­len.

We park our snow mobi­les in such a silent cor­ner and start hiking up a gent­le, but end­less slo­pe. You could hike a who­le, long day here wit­hout real­ly get­ting some­whe­re, but get­ting some­whe­re is not the point here. Just being here is the point. It seems a bit other­world­ly. The light, the land­scape … the wind has blown the snow away from many sur­faces. The coun­try appears very bar­ren. Nevert­hel­ess, many reinde­er roam here, try­ing to find some food.


Reinde­er in polar-desert-like land­scape, loo­king for food.

Later, we dri­ve north, towards Tem­pel­fjord. We have been here some weeks ago alre­a­dy. Today, the land­scape shi­nes in com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent light, the inten­si­ty of which is impos­si­ble to grasp with a few words unless you are Shea­k­e­speare.

Fjordnibba, Tempelfjord

View from the moun­tain Fjord­nib­ba into Tem­pel­fjord.

Even under “nor­mal” light con­di­ti­ons, the view from the litt­le moun­tain Fjord­nib­ba over Sas­senfjord and Tem­pel­fjord is stun­nin­gly beau­tiful. Whoe­ver crea­ted this land­scape must have been in excel­lent mood that day. Ama­zing.

And then in this light …

Tunabreen, Tempelfjord

Gla­cier front of Tunab­reen in Tem­pel­fjord in sun­set light.


You just can’t spend enough time in such places! I just have to return as often as I can.

And the timing is just per­fect right now. It is just befo­re 4 p.m., the sun is about to dis­ap­pear behind the moun­ta­ins, cas­ting the last direct light of day in fire-red colour over moun­ta­ins, fjords and gla­ciers.

Sunset, Tempelfjord

Sun­set over Sas­senfjord and Nor­dens­ki­öld Land.

Inner Tem­pel­fjord is lar­ge­ly fro­zen solid – only at Fred­heim, the ice has bro­ken up recent­ly – and now the­re is a fresh ice cover forming also fur­ther out in Sas­senfjord. Let’s see how far far the deve­lo­p­ment goes this sea­son. Here, we have the view towards Dia­ba­sod­den in outer Sas­senfjord.

View from Fjordnibba to Sassenfjord and Diabasodden

View from Fjord­nib­ba to Sas­senfjord and Dia­ba­sod­den.

A final litt­le excur­si­on takes us from the moun­tain down to sea level at Fred­heim. It is icy cold today, air tem­pe­ra­tures are around -25 degrees cen­ti­gra­de. The cold beco­mes visi­ble in the colours, which ran­ge from pink through pur­ple to blue. Colours of frost and ice.

Eis am Ufer, Tempelfjord

Ice on the shore in Tem­pel­fjord at Fred­heim.

Final­ly, a last view into Tem­pel­fjord. As I said, colours of the cold! A pic­tu­re can give you an idea of the colours – just an idea, but at least – but it does not deli­ver the sounds. The silence is one thing, the sound of the ice yet ano­ther. The ice is con­stant­ly working on the shore, being moved by the tides and pos­si­bly by some waves fur­ther out, in open water. The ice is groa­ning and moa­ning, squea­king and sque­al­ing. Not load, but con­stant­ly.

Eis am Ufer, Tempelfjord

Ice on the shore of Tem­pel­fjord at Fred­heim.

Final­ly, my cur­rent ceter­um cen­seo: I have made a new pho­to book, focus­sing on aeri­al pho­to­gra­phy and thus show­ing the Arc­tic from a very unsu­al per­spec­ti­ve. In theo­ry, the book is in Ger­man, but in prac­ti­ce, it does hard­ly have text. 134 out of 137 pages do just have stun­ning pho­tos, pla­cen­a­mes and a litt­le map.

Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (2) – Aeri­al Arc­tic shows Jan May­en and Sval­bard from the air.

Norwegens arktischer Norden (2) - Aerial Arctic

Rolf’s new pho­to book Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (2) – Aeri­al Arc­tic shows Jan May­en and Spits­ber­gen from a new and stun­ning per­spec­ti­ve.



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last modification: 2019-03-09 · copyright: Rolf Stange