The winter season is now, in early May or actually soon mid May, about to come to an end, but we are currently having beautiful days, after an April that was partly quite, well, mixed. Now we having temperatures below zero again – but not much, it is not too cold – and it is nice and sunny at times. Good reasons to get out there and enjoy the amazing ice- and snow landscape, once again in winter mode.
Spring is not far away anymore in Spitsbergen: Ptarmigan and reindeer are happy about spots of snow-free tundra.
We move rather efficiently trough the valleys to the east. Adventdalen, Eskerdalen and Sassendalen, one by one, like perls on a necklace. We leave them quickly behind, as we want to travel far this time.
At Rabotbreen we enter the wide glacier landscapes of east Spitsbergen. The huge moraine of Rabotbreen also shows signs of the approaching spring, icicles are hanging in small ice holes and caves. The sun is strong enough to make some ice melt even when temperatures are actually still below the freezing point.
Little ice cave in the moraine of Rabotbreen.
Icicles in an ice hole at Rabotbreen.
We leave also this interesting landcsape quickly behind us, and soon we turn north, deviating from the popular and beloved route across Nordmannsfonna towards Mohnbukta on the east coast. This time, we want to go further north.
Heading north across Fimbulisen.
All we have around us is snow, ice and mountains. The landscape appears infinitely wide. Coastal and tundra landscapes have disappeared far behind us. Instead, there is one glacier after the other, one small ice cap neighbouring the next one. Well, they are not exactly small. Of course they can’t compete with those in Greenland and even Antarctica, but still, we are talking hundreds of square kilometres. Fimbulisen, Filchnerfonna, Lomonosovfonna … the latter one is the source to the mighty glaciers Nordenskiöldbreen and Mittag-Lefflerbreen. Lomonosovfonna is 600 square kilometres large!
Infinite spaces: the ice cap Lomonosovfonna.
Our destination: Newtontoppen. This is Spitsbergen’s highest mountain, 1713 metres high. Or to be clear: the highest mountain of Svalbard, the whole archipelago. 1713 metres are, of course, not very impressive, compared to the large mountain ranges of this world. But it is far away … getting there is the first thing, and even on a lovely spring day like this, it is pretty cold.
Newtontoppen comes into our view.
For me, it is the second tour to Newtontoppen. The first time was in 2010. Back then, the two of us used ski, pulk and tent, something that took us almost 4 weeks through this vast landscape. Today, we are faster.
Newtontoppen with a decorative cloud.
Back then, we were a bit more lucky with the weather on Newtontoppen: today, the top remains in a thin cloud, although it is largely fine and clear otherwise.
Newtontoppen is not a difficult mountain to ascend, it is “only” far away – and cold.
The top of Newtontoppen with clouds and stormy wind.
The wind on top of Newtontoppen is strong and it is ice cold, near -20 degrees of centigrade – plus windchill. So it is not exactly picnic time up here, but we enjoy being here, higher than anywhere else on Spitsbergen, for some moments.
And the view is clearing up just a few metres further down. There is a shoulder in about 1500 metres where the granite is coming to the surface. From here, we have got an impressive view over the surrounding mountains and ice fields.
View from Newtontoppen to the south.
The way back home is a long one … more than 300 kilometres in total, from Longyearbyen to Newtontoppen and back.