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Home* News and Stories → Dark season in Longyearbyen: culture, polar bears, storm and icy adventures

Dark season in Longyearbyen: culture, polar bears, storm and icy adventures

The dark season (polar night) began in Spitsbergen more than a months ago. Last sunday, the Advent season was opened following good tradition: the children went to the postbox under mine 3 (near Nybyen, the “father Christmas mine”) and left letters with their Christmas wishes. Then the lighting on the Christmas tree in Longyearbyen centrum was turned on, of course accompanied with a happy little ceremony where many people join.

Christmas tree, Longyearbyen

The Christmas tree Longyearbyen.

The dark season is traditionally often a calm period – finally, you have some time to enjoy culture, such as the “Kunstpause” with various events within arts and literature over a couple of days in Longyearbyen.

Kunstpause: Literatur in Longyearbyen

Literature event in the old coal cableway station in Longyearbyen as part of the Kunstpause:
Elke Morgner reads in German and Norwegian from “The Terrors of Ice and Darkness” by Christoph Ransmayr.

The Polish station in Hornsund had a rather aggressive polar bear around for a while. Despite of various attempts with noise etc., the bear just did not want to leave. It actually attacked a dog that was so severely injured that it had to be euthanised later. Altogether obviously a pretty tough experience for the Hornsund crew.

Yesterday (05 December) a winter storm moved through Spitsbergen, bringing days of poor weather with a lot of wind and rain also to mainland Norway. There was enough snow and wind in Longyearbyen to make houses shake and push the avalanche warnings up the scale. But nothing worth mentioning happened in the end. Winter weather.

The adventurers Børge Ousland and Mike Horn are about to return from an expedition of several months across the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. The have achieved a position north of Spitsbergen where they are about to be picked up soon, according to the plan. The expedition sailing boat that had dropped them off north of Russia does not seem to be involved in the pickup, but the Lance is in the area to get Ousland and Horn on board – they are keen on the term “rescue” NOT to be used. Well. Anyway, the Sysselmannen’s helicopter is always ready when it is needed. The adventurers can be sure to receive a lot of public attention, not the least in the local newspaper Svalbardposten which has covered the story already a couple of times.

It is mostly office season in the spitsbergen-svalbard.com publishing house. What I am doing these days while I am not travelling? Well, last week I had my annual short run of public presentations, which was good fun – thanks to all who came!

There is often the question why I don’t publish my books, at least the Spitsbergen guidebooks, as ebooks. Well, this is actually an idea that I have been going around with for several years now. And I have already spent quite some time with the technicalities that are connected to such a project. It does require some work and know-how if you want it to be good in the end, and obviously, nothing else would be acceptable. I am not going to bother you with any further technical details. Just one: if you want to publish an ebook on the large platforms, something that is critical for any such project, then you need a US tax number. In theory that should not be too much of a problem. In reality, I just got my second application turned down, altough I even had a specialised lawyer to help me. That is also a way to waste time, money and motivation …

So I rather spent some time to develop another couple of polar panoramas. Start here if you want to discover some new places in Svalbard:

  • Andréeneset on Kvitøya. The place became famous when the remains of the Andrée expedition were found there in 1930. In 2018, I finally managed to shoot a panorama here. It is not a place where you get too often, and then there is usually a polar bear hanging out there somewhere …
  • Bratliekollen and Irgensfjellet on Blomstrandhalvøya. Great views over Kongsfjord!
  • Seligerbreen (next to Monacobreen) in Liefdefjord. New land “thanks” to retreating glaciers and thus due to climate change.
  • Hamburgbukta on the northern west coast. A beautiful bay and obviously not unknown to the early whalers.
  • Kvedfjordbukta south of Hamburgbukta. A rarely visited but beautiful part of Spitsbergen’s west coast.
  • Dunøyane and Isøyane are little arctic paradise islands on Spitsbergen’s west coast, north of Hornsund .
  • Diesetsletta is a lovely, wide-open coastal plain north of Kongsfjord. It takes a bit of luck with the weather to get to such places.
  • Have a look at Finneset if you are interested in the history of Spitsbergen. This place had a whaling station and Spitsbergen’s first whaling station in the early 20th century.
  • Some more history, this time from darker periods: the wreck of a German fighter plane at Kapp Borthen.
  • Does anyone feels like joining me on a long tour with great views of arctic winter landscapes on the mountain Operafjellet?
Panorama Isøyane

Panorama (Screenshot) of Nordre Isøya, on the west coast north of Hornsund. Click here to find the real panorama that you can turn around.

And there is of course alway work going on with new books, updates of existing books, translations and so on.

Soon I will have more Longyearbyen kitchen slats and Spitsbergen driftwood picture frames in the online shop! It does take some time for things to arrive, especially stuff that does not fit easily in the pocket … the new picture frames are not yet available in the shop, but they will soon be there.

Longyearbyen kitchen slat

What is the bearded seal doing in Longyearbyen? 🙂

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last modification: 2019-12-07 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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