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Home → July, 2019

Monthly Archives: July 2019 − News & Stories

Spits­ber­gen sum­mer: sum­mer wea­ther, tou­rists, cham­pa­gne glass, pri­de para­de, new pan­ora­mas, Anti­gua tour pho­tos & tri­plog

The sum­mer is curr­ent­ly going cal­my in Spits­ber­gen, most­ly. Which is a good thing. The heat wave that seems to numb lar­ge parts of cen­tral Euro­pe the­se days is not much of an issue in Spits­ber­gen. It is warm up the­re as well, around 10 degrees cen­ti­gra­de, and up 13 degrees are expec­ted for tomor­row (Sun­day) accor­ding to the Nor­we­gi­an fore­cast on yr.no – plea­sant tem­pe­ra­tures, if you ask me. Cer­tain­ly warm sum­mer days in the Arc­tic, but not a record-brea­king heat­wa­ve.

The­re is an ongo­ing deba­te in Lon­gye­ar­by­en about crui­se ship traf­fic and tou­rists. The­re are days when seve­ral thou­sands of them are floo­ding the place, which has about 2500 inha­bi­tants. No sur­pri­se that this is con­tro­ver­si­al.

Peo­p­le are also dis­cus­sing when the cham­pa­gne glass might break. This is a pret­ty con­spi­cuous snow-field that you can see on Ope­raf­jel­let, east of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It has the shape of a cham­pa­gne glass. When the snow-melt has advan­ced far enough, then the stem will “break”. Once this is the case, then it is sum­mer in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, accor­ding to an old tra­di­ti­on. The­re is an annu­al com­pe­ti­ti­on arran­ged by Sval­bard­pos­ten, the local news­pa­per, whe­re you can have your guess when exact­ly the stem will break. This is usual­ly the case in late July.

Champagne glass on Operafjellet near Longyearbyen

The “cham­pa­gne glass” on Ope­raf­jel­let east of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The first local initia­ti­ve to arran­ge a pri­de para­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en is lar­ge­ly met with enthu­si­asm, but the­re are also some cri­ti­cal voices on the usu­al social media plat­forms, inclu­ding some hate comm­ents. Well, why should peo­p­le in the Arc­tic gene­ral­ly be any bet­ter than else­whe­re in the world.

Natu­re lovers among­st locals and tou­rists are curr­ent­ly enjoy­ing many encoun­ters with wha­les in Isfjord and else­whe­re, inclu­ding blue wha­les, fin wha­les, hump­back wha­les and white wha­les (belugas). And the­re are some rare visi­tors to the Lon­gye­ar­by­en area. Curr­ent­ly, the­re is a group of rud­dy shel­duck, which accor­ding to Wiki­pe­dia have their “main bree­ding area … from sou­the­ast Euro­pe across cen­tral Asia to Lake Bai­kal, Mon­go­lia, and wes­tern Chi­na”. This does obvious­ly not include Spits­ber­gen, so the rud­dy shel­ducks that are regu­lar­ly seen the­se days bet­ween Bjørn­da­len and Advent­da­len have lost track. It is, as far as we know, the second time that this spe­ci­es is obser­ved in Spits­ber­gen. And it is not the only recent rare bird sight­ing. The­re has been that tun­dra swan in Advent­da­len and a tuf­ted puf­fin on Bjørnøya. Accor­ding to experts, this increase of rari­ty obser­va­tions indi­ca­tes an increased den­si­ty of obser­vers out in the field rather than any chan­ges in the natu­ral world. This is a good thing – we are out the­re in natu­re and we are lear­ning while being the­re.

All in all, it is the usu­al walk of life in the Arc­tic as of 2019.

This lea­ves some time to get other things done as well. The Spits­ber­gen pan­ora­ma sel­ec­tion has recei­ved some new ent­rants:

New Spits­ber­gen-pan­ora­mas

Spitsbergen panorama: Markhambreen

Mark­ham­breen: a rare­ly visi­ted gla­cier on the east coast of Spits­ber­gen. One of seve­ral new ent­ries in the Spits­ber­gen pan­ora­ma coll­ec­tion on this web­site.

And: seve­ral new pages are now online dis­play­ing sel­ec­tions of pho­tos illus­t­ra­ting a long and exci­ting recent voya­ge on SV Anti­gua. Click here to join us under sail in the Arc­tic!

Daud­manns­od­den-Ymer­buk­ta – 11th July 2019

The last day – time is fly­ing! We have made good speed and arri­ved outer Isfjord in the ear­ly mor­ning, so we con­tin­ued a few miles to the north, into For­lands­und (how many times did we sail through For­lands­und on this trip ..?). We went ashore in one of the beau­tiful bays on Spitsbergen’s west coast, and after a full day at sea, it was good to get some tun­dra under our rub­ber boots again! Next to all the beau­tiful flowers and wild­life of the tun­dra, we found remains of a dead sperm wha­le on the beach and a lepi­du­rus gla­cia­lis (no idea about the com­mon name) in a litt­le lake.

Gal­lery – Daud­manns­od­den-Ymer­buk­ta – 11th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Later, we went ashore once again, then in Ymer­buk­ta. Some of us wal­ked along the shore towards the gla­cier and others crossed the huge morai­ne to enjoy silent views of the arc­tic natu­re. Time to say good­bye – for this time. It was gre­at, big thanks to all of you who were part of it!

Sør­kapp – 10th July 2019

A rela­xed day at sea. We have got a lot of miles to cover from nor­t­hern Storfjord back to Isfjord, and we don’t have an awful lot of days left.

Gal­lery – Sør­kapp – 10th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The south cape (here some pan­ora­mas) pas­sa­ge is nice and calm, so we can spend time in the lec­tu­re hall to ela­bo­ra­te on the polar fox, sea ice, trap­pers and the arc­tic sea­sons.

Ginev­ra­bot­nen – 09th July 2019

A long stretch took us up to Ginev­ra­bot­nen last night. This is the nor­t­hern­most part of Storfjord, north of Barent­søya. The­re is still quite a bit of drift ice in this area. We have arri­ved in the high arc­tic! The wea­ther is calm and clear, it is over­cast, but beau­tiful. Almost a bit melan­cho­lic. Very fit­ting for this high arc­tic envi­ron­ment.

Gal­lery – Ginev­ra­bot­nen – 09th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

We get to do a love­ly Zodiac crui­se in the ice, but later, the clouds come down and turn into fog. Then the­re comes wind on top of it. Altog­e­ther, it is a rather unp­lea­sant com­bi­na­ti­on. We have to scrap a landing on Barent­søya which we had plan­ned ori­gi­nal­ly.

A visit to the Würz­bur­ger Hut at Sundneset/Barentsøya can be done online here.

East coast: Mark­ham­breen & Kval­vå­gen – 08th July 2019

Final­ly we have left the west coast behind – as beau­tiful as it is the­re! But now on to some­thing dif­fe­rent. Wild and rough, somehow more arc­tic. It is not a gent­le land­scape here in the east. Almost hosti­le, this coast of steep rock cliffs and gla­ciers.

But now the wea­ther is on our side, at least for today. The south cape was calm last night, and now it is calm here in Storfjord. We make use of the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a clo­se look at Mark­ham­breen. One of tho­se gla­ciers on the east coast that has retrea­ted in recent years to give way to a beach and a litt­le bay. Just as Croll­breen and Emil’janovbreen fur­ther north. But to our sur­pri­se we found that even more recent­ly Mark­ham­breen has advan­ced again, so the­re is no bay any­mo­re! Lucki­ly it was calm enough to land on the outer, expo­sed side of the beach. The ice cliff that is now res­t­ing on the land­ward side of that beach is pret­ty wild and crev­as­sed, with a litt­le push end morai­ne towards the beach.

Gal­lery – East coast: Mark­ham­breen & Kval­vå­gen – 08th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

A few hours later we went ashore at Bol­tod­den in the lar­ge bay of Kval­vå­gen. A fasci­na­ting coas­tal land­scape with huge blocks of quar­zi­tic sand­stone, and of cour­se the geo­lo­gi­cal high­light, the dino­saur foot­prints!

We made some walks along the coast, into a silent val­ley and up to some moun­tain peaks with stun­ning views to dive deeper into this ama­zing, high-arc­tic envi­ron­ment. Din­ner just had to wait a while today …

Hyt­te­vi­ka – 07th July 2019

Final­ly, a wea­ther win­dow has ope­ned up bet­ween all the­se low pres­su­res that have been pas­sing through here now. Accor­ding to the fore­cast, we should have some calm days ahead of us now. So let’s go down south and around the south cape!

The sea was calm and the sun was shi­ning, so we didn’t want to miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a landing in Hyt­te­vi­ka. One of the most beau­tiful places in Spits­ber­gen! The sce­n­ery is stun­ning, and it is a perl of arc­tic natu­re. Ten thou­sands of Litt­le auks are bree­ding on the slo­pes, fil­ling the place with life and noi­se. The tun­dra is green and lush and the reinde­er are fat and num­e­rous.

Gal­lery – Hyt­te­vi­ka – 07th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

This is whe­re Wan­ny Wold­stad win­tered seve­ral times from 1932, the famous fema­le polar bear hun­ter from north Nor­way.

Now we have set cou­res for the south cape. The sea is calm and the sun is shi­ning, and we are loo­king for­ward to the east coast of Spits­ber­gen!

Isfjord – 06th July 2019

Back in Isfjord – again. Our hide-and-seek with the wind. Well, today we are not real­ly hiding from the wind. We are steam­ing against a force 7 into Ymer­buk­ta, whe­re we spend some time near Esmark­breen. Later, while at anchor, we get some impres­si­ve gusts. The anchor is drag­ging while I lec­tu­re about geo­lo­gy.

Gal­lery – Isfjord – 06th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Later, the wind is on our side: fil­ling the sails as we move across Isfjord, towards Barents­burg. The­re, we spend an inte­res­t­ing after­noon and a cheerful evening in the bar of the bre­wery.

For­lands­und – 05th July 2019

It does not hap­pen too often that we visit one and the same place twice during one trip. But today, we are back at Sar­stan­gen, whe­re we star­ted – feels like months ago! Back then, we had the two polar bears, which was gre­at, but … we could obvious­ly not visit the wal­ru­ses. But today was the day for that.

Addi­tio­nal­ly, we clea­ned up a sec­tion of the beach, so a lot of mari­ne pla­s­tic lit­ter is now remo­ved from the beach and sto­wed in bags on deck on Anti­gua.

Gal­lery – For­lands­und – 05th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Later, we ancho­red in Sel­vå­gen on Prins Karls For­land. Every once in a while, a few rain­drops whe­re fall­ling, but not too much, and other than that, the clouds made for a beau­tiful, quiet, almost melan­cho­lic atmo­sphe­re. We could make some love­ly walks and hikes across the tun­dra plains and up to some hills for stun­ning views.

Also in Sel­vå­gen, the­re was less pla­s­tic on the beach after our depar­tu­re than befo­re. The deck is fil­ling up with old fishing nets.

Isfjord – 04th July 2019

Right place, right time – again! We can enjoy the fasci­na­ting land­scape on and around Cora­hol­men in bril­li­ant suns­hi­ne. It is almost too warm!

Accor­ding to the wea­ther fore­cast, Isfjord should have been calm as a lake today. This is not real­ly the case, but nevert­hel­ess we make it ashore on an expo­sed beach at Bohe­man­nes­et. A stun­ning place with beau­tiful flowers, inte­res­t­ing geo­lo­gy and gre­at pan­o­r­amic views.

Gal­lery – Isfjord – 04th July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

We make full use of the nice day and make an evening Zodiac tour to Sveab­reen. Later, we can enjoy a fan­ta­stic BBQ that the gal­ley team has arran­ged for us. Heads off!

Dick­son­fjord – 03rd July 2019

We have moved into some of the inner bran­ches of Isfjord to enjoy some fan­ta­stic sce­n­ery alt­hough the wea­ther is actual­ly quite grey. Still, it is beau­tiful. And we meet a pod of Belugas in red­dish melt­wa­ter.

Kapp Smith was one of the places whe­re the age of sys­te­ma­tic sci­ence and explo­ra­ti­on began in Spits­ber­gen: this is whe­re the Nor­we­gi­an pho­to­gram­me­tric expe­di­ti­on of 1936 was based. Air­planes rather than dog sled­ges. Today, turn­sto­nes and arc­tic terns live on the beau­tiful­ly colourful tun­dra.

Gal­lery – Dick­son­fjord – 03rd July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Many of us hike from Dick­son­fjord to Ekm­anfjord, fol­lo­wing a colourful car­pet of various flowers. The rocks are full of fos­sils, others con­sist of white anhy­drite („gypsym“). Pink-foo­ted geese are bree­ding in flat tun­dra are­as, and red-throa­ted divers are sit­ting on a small lake.

We spend a beau­tiful­ly calm night at anchor, while the clouds are coming down lower and lower.

St. Jons­fjord – 02nd July 2019

The main point in out plan­ning is still to avo­id the are­as of strong winds that are curr­ent­ly raging in seve­ral parts of Spits­ber­gen. The low pres­su­res are pas­sing through one by one, wit­hout a break.

But we are doing pret­ty well so far. Today, this brings us to St. Jons­fjord, which turns out to be the place to be for today. The first hike yields beau­tiful views on moun­ta­ins, gla­ciers and the fjord, with ple­nty of beau­tiful flowers.

Gal­lery – St. Jons­fjord – 02nd July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Later, we pass a lar­ge, quite acti­ve gla­cier and many small ice­bergs. Coin­ci­dence takes us then to a place whe­re a retrea­ting gla­cier has crea­ted a fasci­na­ting lagoon land­scape. A strong tidal cur­rent rus­hes through the cur­ved chan­nel that con­nects the lagoon and the fjord. 288 met­res alti­tu­de pro­vi­de a stun­ning pan­ora­ma over the who­le fjord area.

Kross­fjord – Kongsfjord – 01st July 2019

We had been hoping for a good hike in Kross­fjord. What we get ins­tead is a lot of wind, wind and even more wind.

It is a bit more calm at Lil­lie­höök­breen – and very impres­si­ve. An ice cliff, seve­ral kilo­me­ters wide, and two huge cal­vings.

Gal­lery – Kross­fjord – Kongsfjord – 01st July 2019

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Our next bet is Möl­lerfjord, but no luck here eit­her. So we put ever­y­thing on Kongsfjord. And here things are inde­ed bet­ter, so we get a love­ly after­noon walk on Blom­strand­hal­vøya. Stun­ning rocky coas­tal sce­n­ery with a litt­le cave.


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