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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.

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