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Home → April, 2019

Monthly Archives: April 2019 − Travelblog


Spits­ber­gen back to win­ter mode on Eas­ter Sun­day

After an ear­ly snow mel­ting peri­od last week, the win­ter retur­ned to Spits­ber­gen exact­ly on Eas­ter Sun­day with tem­pe­ra­tures below zero. After a cou­ple of very wet and grey days, which frus­tra­ted tou­rists, locals, gui­des and tour ope­ra­tors ali­ke, mol­ten snow beca­me ice – at least! – and the sun came out again.

Skating rink Longyearbyen Camping

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping: last week a lake, this week an ice area.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping, last week an impres­si­ve land­scape of lakes and lagoons, is now an ice area, with a sur­face just a bit too rough to pro­vi­de a useful ska­ting rink. Else­whe­re, it is flat and shi­ning as a mir­ror, some­thing that does not make moving around easier, both in the field and in town. Spikes (isbrod­der in Nor­we­gi­an) can be very hel­pful and may pre­vent acci­dents.

Skating rink Adventdalen

Advent­da­len: last week a river, this week a ska­ting rink.

Now it is good to be out­side again!

And, yes: the Eas­ter bun­ny also came all the way north to Spits­ber­gen. Hap­py Eas­ter! 🙂

Happy Easter

Hap­py Eas­ter!

The ice cave in Lon­gye­ar­breen

Snow melt – 4 weeks too ear­ly

Curr­ent­ly – today it is 18 April – I get the impres­si­on that Spits­ber­gen is real­ly mel­ting and flowing away. The snow melt has star­ted, seve­ral weeks to ear­ly. This April will wit­hout any doubt be the 101st month in a row with tem­pe­ra­tures abo­ve the long-term avera­ge.

But more about that later. One effect of the wea­ther is that I have some time to wri­te again now. It has been a while ago …

Ice cave – 4 weeks ago

… that we went to the ice cave in Lon­gye­ar­breen. The­re are ice caves here in pret­ty much all gla­ciers, and the one clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en are popu­lar places to visit, both by tou­rists with gui­des and by locals. You can dog-sledge or ski to the ice cave in Scott Tur­ner­breen in Bol­terd­a­len, you can hike to the one on Lars­breen, also with snow­s­hoes or on ski, and you can get to the one on Lon­gye­ar­breen with a wider ran­ge of trans­por­ta­ti­on means, here also inclu­ding snow mobi­le or snow cat.

Ice cave in Longyearbreen

In the ice cave in Lon­gye­ar­breen (mid March).

The ice caves are actual­ly melt­wa­ter chan­nels, but they usual­ly fall dry during the win­ter sea­son (melt­wa­ter flow may occur at any time of year, so be careful). Then they can be visi­ted. Depen­ding on the “ter­rain”, this can be easy or dif­fi­cult. Some are so nar­row and steep that visi­ting them may be impos­si­ble, at least for nor­mal peo­p­le, others are more visi­tor-fri­end­ly. In any case, an ice cave is a fasci­na­ting expe­ri­ence!

Ice cave in Longyearbreen

Ice cave in Lon­gye­ar­breen.
Usual­ly I don’t post too many pic­tures of mys­elf, but I do like this one 🙂

Mohn­buk­ta: snow mobi­le tour to Spitsbergen’s east coast

As beau­tiful as Longyearbyen’s sur­roun­dings are espe­ci­al­ly at this time of year, it is always temp­ting and actual­ly also gre­at to get fur­ther away from “civi­li­sa­ti­on”. We take the oppor­tu­ni­ty that the fine wea­ther pro­vi­des, pack the sled­ges and set cour­se east through Advent­da­len. Spitsbergen’s east coast, espe­ci­al­ly Mohn­buk­ta, is a clas­si­cal desti­na­ti­on for snow mobi­le tours in the late win­ter – now – for good reason, as you will see!

Adventdalen

View over inner Advent­da­len.

It is cold, around minus 20 degrees cen­ti­gra­de as so often during the last cou­ple of weeks. Clear and calm.

The lar­ge morai­ne of Rabot­breen, east of Sas­send­a­len, may be an obs­ta­cle for some who are not used to dri­ving snow mobi­les, as the­re are some cur­ves, bends and litt­le slo­pes.

Rabotbreen

Dead gla­cier ice in the morai­ne of Rabot­breen.

For us, it is a gre­at and very impres­si­ve bit of land­scape. Just the sca­le is enorm­ous! And then the­re are some expo­sed bits of dead gla­cier ice, slow­ly mel­ting away, crea­ting some ama­zing shapes and colours on their way back to the glo­bal water cycle.

Nordmannsfonna

The litt­le ice cap Nord­manns­fon­na.

We con­ti­nue across Nord­manns­fon­na, a litt­le ice cap whe­re you get a lit­te impres­si­on of how it might be in cen­tral parts of Green­land or Ant­ar­c­ti­ca. It is of cour­se just a minia­tu­re ver­si­on of tho­se con­ti­nen­tal inland ice mas­ses, but for me this is enough. Honest­ly, I have never real­ly been keen on going to any pole, by bur­ning nuclear fuel to get to the north pole or by bur­ning end­less volu­mes of air­craft fuel to get to the south pole, whe­re tou­rists are not always real­ly given a warm wel­co­me by the crew of the Amund­sen-Scott South Pole Sta­ti­on. But any­way … I am get­ting off topic. I am hap­py here on Spitsbergen’s Nord­manns­fon­na and her rela­ti­ves around here 🙂

Iceberg Mohnbukta

Wea­the­red ice­berg in Mohn­buk­ta.

We have rea­ched Mohn­buk­ta after a short dri­ve down ano­ther gla­cier. The bay and the wide waters of Storfjord are fro­zen solid as far as we can see, and we have a fan­ta­stic view all the way to Barent­søya and Edgeøya. The ice is a fan­ta­stic world in its­elf! The­re are some small (well, it is all rela­ti­ve), but beau­tiful­ly (abso­lut­e­ly!) wea­the­red ice­bergs fro­zen in the sea ice. We had some stun­ning spe­ci­mens here in ear­lier years, click here for some pan­ora­ma pho­tos of ’em.

Lunch break Mohnbukta

Lunch break in Mohn­buk­ta.

A gre­at place for a litt­le lunch break 🙂

Then the­re is the gla­cier front of Hayes­breen as the scenic high­light of the day. Just stun­ning! Espe­ci­al­ly on a day like this. Now – it is late March – the sun is still low even around noon, which is when she is coming from the per­fect direc­tion to illu­mi­na­te this ama­zing ice cliff. A gre­at spec­ta­cle of ice, of colours, shapes and size!

Glacier front of Hayesbreen, Mohnbukta

Gla­cier front of Hayes­breen, Mohn­buk­ta (I).

Glacier front of Hayesbreen, Mohnbukta

Gla­cier front of Hayes­breen, Mohn­buk­ta (II).

Then … off again, and back home. We have still got more than 90 kilo­me­t­res ahead of us.

Way back home over Königsbergbreen

Way back home over Königs­berg­breen.

The love­ly evening light makes the trip over Königs­berg­breen and through Sas­send­a­len ano­ther delight. Some­thing we just have to enjoy, the­re won’t be any evening light here any­mo­re in just a few weeks time!

Evening light, Sassendalen

Evening light in Sas­send­a­len.

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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