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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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