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Home* News and Stories → Nofre­te­te and a cham­pa­gne glass. Lon­gye­ar­by­en snow­fiel­ds

Nofre­te­te and a cham­pa­gne glass. Lon­gye­ar­by­en snow­fiel­ds

A lot of the snow around Lon­gye­ar­by­en has alrea­dy disap­peared recent­ly. The warm days in late May, when the war­mest tem­pe­ra­tures of the mon­ths were mea­su­red that Lon­gye­ar­by­en had seen in 46 years with 12.9 degrees cen­tig­ra­de on 30 May, made the tur­no­ver from win­ter to sum­mer a very rapid affair this year, at least local­ly: it is actual­ly very nor­mal that the snow-melt in and near Lon­gye­ar­by­en starts ear­lier and hap­pens fas­ter than else­whe­re. You may get an impres­si­on of full ear­ly sum­mer in Lon­gye­ar­by­en while the­re is still full arc­tic win­ter some­thing like 50 kilo­me­tres away to the north, east and south (and may­be even to the west, alt­hough this is less reli­able). In Lon­gye­ar­by­en, it may be dif­fi­cult to access the fuel sta­ti­on by snow mobi­le while you can enjoy the win­ter sea­son at its best north of Isfjord or around upper Advent­da­len – if you can still get the­re, that is.

Tho­se who know Lon­gye­ar­by­en well also know the snow­fiel­ds “Nofre­te­te” and “Cham­pa­gne glass”. When the snow goes, some snow­fiel­ds stay behind for qui­te some times, and some of them have pro­mi­nent shapes in a very simi­lar way year after year. The fol­lowing two are the most famous ones. Let’s start with Nofre­te­te:

Snowfield Nofretete, Adventfjord

Snow­field “Nofre­te­te” on the north side of Advent­fjord. You can’t see it from cen­tral Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The simi­la­ri­ty to the famous bust of the old Egypt beau­ty is striking, even though she gives me the impres­si­on of being in a bad mood here. But who isn’t, every once in a while.

The “Cham­pa­gne glass” is even more famous than Nofre­te­te, pro­bab­ly also becau­se you can see it easi­ly direct­ly from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It is a snow­field of the shape of – guess what! – yes, a cham­pa­gne glass on Ope­raf­jel­let, east of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Snowfield Champagne glass, Adventfjord

The snow­field “Cham­pa­gne glass”, not yet ent­i­re­ly free from the sur­roun­ding snow,
on Ope­raf­jel­let east of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, late May 2022.

The “Cham­pa­gne glass” comes with a litt­le sto­ry that attracts public atten­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en year after year. The pro­ges­sing snow melt reli­ab­ly leads to the brea­king of the stem after the glass has got its per­fect shape – the cup its­elf being a bit less high and slim than with most real cham­pa­gne glas­ses. “Stet­ten går”, as the Nor­we­gi­an-spea­king locals say, “the stem goes”. The exact day then the stem “breaks” is the final one in a seri­es of events in natu­re that mark the annu­al tran­si­ti­on from win­ter to sum­mer (the first one being the arri­val of the snow bun­ting in April).

The stem usual­ly breaks in late July or ear­ly August. You can try your luck and place a bet with Sval­bard­pos­ten, the local news­pa­per, about your best gues­sing of the date. Honour and reco­gni­ti­on in case of suc­cess.

This year, it was Sarah Gerats who pro­ved her instincts and know­ledge about the local natu­re, deve­lo­ped through years of life in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and on boats in local waters. Sarah was not the only one who pre­dic­ted that the stem would go on 06th June, but she was the first one.

Snowfield Champagne glass, Adventfjord

The cham­pa­gne glass with bro­ken stem on 6th June, 2022.

Hence, this year’s day of the bro­ken stem is amongst the ear­liest of its kind in recor­ded histo­ry, due to the abo­ve-men­tio­ned unusual­ly warm days in late May.

Sarah Gerats

Sarah Gerats, win­ner of the 2022 cham­pa­gne glass con­test.
Here tog­e­ther with Mario Czok, then Cap­tain on Anti­gua, at Bear Island (2018).

Congra­tu­la­ti­ons, Sarah!

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2022-06-14 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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