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Yearly Archives: 2023 − News & Stories


Sør­kapp & Horn­sund

Sør­kapp (Spitsbergen’s south cape) has its bad repu­ta­ti­on for good reasons. The wea­ther is often bad and the sea rough, and the waters are shal­low. Most­ly it is a tough stretch.

But on one of the­se rather few gol­den days … it can be an ama­zing area! Be it on the main­land coast or on the off­shore islands such as Tokros­søya.

After an ama­zing day at the­se places we went into Horn­sund.

Pho­to gal­lery – Sør­kapp: Keil­hauf­jel­let & Tokros­søya and Horn­sund

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

In Storfjord: Kval­vå­gen & Haketan­gen

Now it was time to get south and towards the south cape. But it was a good day in Storfjord, with two landings. One at Spo­rod­den in Kval­vå­gen. Ama­zing geo­lo­gy, inclu­ding dino­saur foot­prints. And a very good hike.

Fur­ther south at Haketan­gen, we found some­thing that you would hard­ly expect in a remo­te, see­mingly pris­ti­ne place like this: a litt­le run­way! Of cour­se not in use any­mo­re, but still cle­ar­ly visi­ble in the land­scape. The was one of the places whe­re they dril­led for oil and gas back then. The first dril­ling was done in 1976 and than again in 1987. The hole went as far down as 2,337 met­res. After some more tests in 1988, the place was cle­ared up (at least). They found some gas, but not enough to start pro­duc­tion.

How was it pos­si­ble that they actual­ly did the­se explo­ra­ti­on works? The lar­ge natio­nal parks exist sin­ce 1973. That includes South Spits­ber­gen Natio­nal Park, whe­re Haketan­gen is situa­ted. Today we are tal­king about pos­si­ble bans against tou­rist landings in the­se are­as, and back then they could drill, look for oil and gas and build and use a run­way – under essen­ti­al­ly the same regu­la­ti­ons. How was that pos­si­ble? One may only won­der.

Pho­to gal­lery – In Storfjord: Kval­vå­gen & Haketan­gen

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

In Hin­lo­pen Strait (II)

One more day in Hin­lo­pen Strait – and what a day it was! Wat­ching polar bears while they were having break­fast, a gre­at hike on Wil­hel­møya and to round the day off (as if any­thing was miss­ing …) wat­ching hump­back wha­les having din­ner.

Pho­to gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen Strait (II): Polar bears, Wil­hel­møya & hump­back wha­les

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

In Hin­lo­pen Strait (I)

Now, as we had ente­red Hin­lo­pen Strait from the south, we wan­ted to get fur­ther into this ama­zing area, hoping for some good hikes, sce­n­ery and wild­life. We were not to be dis­ap­poin­ted. From a good hike on Von Otterøya, with gre­at pan­o­r­amic views over lar­ge parts of Hin­lo­pen, to one of many smal­ler islands on the area to Alkef­jel­let. The lat­ter is always some­thing spe­cial, but that night, it was just unre­al. Pure magic.

Pho­to gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen Strait: Von Otterøya, Smit­tøya, Alkef­jel­let

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

Around Nord­aus­t­land: fol­lo­wing Austfonna’s edge

Now that we were alre­a­dy as far east as Storøya, we thought we might as well sail all around Nord­aus­t­land. And so we did. The day was a bit grey, but the light was actual­ly gre­at to high­light the ama­zing colour of the ice and the water, which was, in parts, hea­vi­ly colou­red by sedi­ment. A part of the ice cap of Aus­t­fon­na, in the area of Domen, has cle­ar­ly advan­ced by seve­ral kilo­me­t­res. The amounts of gla­cier ice in the water are ama­zing.

The pic­tures will tell the sto­ry. That’s the view we had for most of the day 🙂

Pho­to gal­lery – Nord­aus­t­land: Aus­t­fon­na from Domen to Brås­vell­breen

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

More “end of the world” islands: Raschøya & Storøya

We star­ted with a hike on Raschøya – in suns­hi­ne! Good thing. We may not get too much of both – hiking and sun – later today and tomor­row. The view over the sur­roun­dings, islands, bays and the huge ice cap Aus­t­fon­na, from Raschøya is incre­di­ble!

Inde­ed, we lost the sun (rather, it dis­ap­peared behind clouds and fog) as we rea­ched Storøya. If anyo­ne had not yet men­tal­ly arri­ved in the high Arc­tic, well, this was it: as bar­ren, cold, win­dy and fog­gy as anyo­ne could ima­gi­ne. An island not for humans, but for wal­ru­ses and polar bears.

We even mana­ged to make two landings on Storøya, one near the wal­ru­ses in the north and one at the hut of the Ymer-expe­di­ti­on in 1980.

Now we have many miles at sea ahead of us as we sail around Nord­aus­t­land.

Pho­to gal­lery – Raschøya, Storøya

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

Svalbard’s remo­test islands

The world – this part of it, any­way – was ours today. Gre­at wea­ther, and some remo­te, wild arc­tic islands ahead of us!

Landings on such small islands are always exci­ting. Nord­re Repøya, Karl XII-Øya, Foynøya. Ama­zing places! Stran­ge that we didn’t see any polar bears (just parts of them). Whe­re are they? All up to the ice? Hard to belie­ve. Any­way, they were not here today. It is kind of stran­ge to spend seve­ral days in this area wit­hout see­ing a sin­gle bear. But we got all the­se gre­at landings, so for us, it was not a bad thing.

Later we had the grea­test arc­tic evening ever in in eas­tern­most Orvin Land. At anchor in the eas­tern­most bay befo­re the gre­at gla­cier front of Leigh­breen starts, which is part of the huge ice cap Aus­t­fon­na. What a light, what a view, what an evening! Unfor­gettable!

Pho­to gal­lery – Nord­re Repøya, Karl XII-Øya, Orvin Land

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

From Rijpfjord to Zorgd­ra­gerfjord and Duvefjord

Con­side­ring the wea­ther fore­cast, our expec­ta­ti­ons for this day were some­what limi­t­ed, but actual­ly, it tur­ned out gre­at! Start­ing with a gre­at hike from Rijpfjord to Zorgd­ra­gerfjord across the bar­ren inte­riour of the coun­try, which is hard­ly ever visi­ted. Also Zorgd­ra­gerfjord does enjoy its exis­tence in soli­tu­de, and it is gre­at to see places like that.

Later, we went for ano­ther hike in the nor­thwes­tern part of Duvefjord. We even got some suns­hi­ne the­re, so we went out yet one more time in the evening, to enjoy the gre­at light.

Pho­to gal­lery – from Rijpfjord to Zorgd­ra­gerfjord and Duvefjord

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

Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta and Rijpfjord

A day in some of the remo­test and most rare­ly visi­ted cor­ners of Sval­bard. That is cer­tain­ly true for the wes­tern part of Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta on Nord­aus­t­land: poor­ly char­ted waters with a lot of shal­lows, whe­re most Cap­ta­ins will refu­se to take their ship. But Hein­rich dri­ves his Arc­ti­ca II almost like a Zodiac.

That way we got the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty for a gla­cier hike on Sabi­ne­breen.

A gla­cier from a more clas­sic per­spec­ti­ve was what we got later at Rijp­b­reen.

We finis­hed the day off with a visit to the Hau­de­gen war wea­ther sta­ti­on. A pret­ty grim part of Svalbard’s histo­ry, but inte­res­t­ing.

Pho­to gal­lery – Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta & Rijpfjord: Sabi­ne­breen, Rijp­b­reen and Hau­de­gen-sta­ti­on

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

From Kapp Rubin to Ekstrem­fjord

During the night we stea­m­ed to the nor­the­ast. At some stage we just have to do some miles. Big thanks to all who hel­ped to keep the ship on cour­se during the night­ly shifts!

In the late mor­ning, we star­ted the day’s adven­tures at Kapp Rubin, a rocky head­land on the north coast of Nord­aus­t­land. Loo­king for the traces of a tra­gic win­tering in 1908-09 (we found some, inclu­ding a gra­ve and some small bits and pie­ces) and of Theo­dor Lerner’s expe­di­ti­on in 1913 (we didn’t find any). Ler­ner lost his ship and had to spend some time at Kapp Rubin, wai­ting for help.

Later, we explo­red Ekstrem­fjord. Stran­ge name, the­re is no expl­ana­ti­on for it. Pro­ba­b­ly after a ship. Any­way, the name is appro­pria­te, for exam­p­le regar­ding the extre­me amounts of pla­s­tic lit­ter on the shores (a good bit less when we left) and extre­me­ly rocky. And extre­me­ly beau­tiful views over an extre­me­ly bar­ren, beau­tiful land­scape.

Pho­to gal­lery – Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta: From Kapp Rubin to Ekstrem­fjord

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

From Ny-Åle­sund to Vir­go­ham­na

What a day! Within 24 hours, we had spent a night plus some qua­li­ty time in Ny-Åle­sund and then went as far as Vir­go­ham­na, but not wit­hout a love­ly landing at Die­sets­let­ta on the open west coast, as we had the best of con­di­ti­ons, so we just had to jump at that rare oppor­tu­ni­ty 🙂 we roun­ded the day off in Vir­go­ham­na, explo­ring the traces of the expe­di­ti­ons of Andrée and Well­man.

Pho­to gal­lery – Ny-Åle­sund – Die­sets­let­ta – Vir­go­ham­na

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

In For­lands­und

It is won­derful to wake up on a small boat at anchor in a silent bay, with beau­tiful land­scape in the sun all around. Of cour­se that is just asking for a good hike. And so we did. Sple­ndid! Won­derful views over cen­tral parts of Prins Karls For­land.

After our first, “fai­led” 😉 attempt yes­ter­day to see wal­ru­ses in Poo­le­pyn­ten, we made a new attempt today fur­ther north at Sar­stan­gen. Today, we were not dis­ap­poin­ted! (And of cour­se, we were not dis­ap­poin­ted yes­ter­day eit­her … just kid­ding …).

Pho­to gal­lery – Prins Karls For­land & Sar­stan­gen

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

In Trygg­ham­na and to Prins Karls For­land

A silent night at anchor is one of the best things I know 🙂 and it is even bet­ter when the sun is out next mor­ning.

The green tun­dra around Alk­hor­net is a perl of arc­tic natu­re. Many reinde­er, polar foxes and migh­ty ice wed­ges. And a very busy birdcliff pro­vi­ding the appro­pria­te noi­se.

Pho­to gal­lery – Trygg­ham­na & Alk­hor­net

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

Then we con­tin­ued into For­lands­und, with a lot of sun and a bit of wind. The idea was to visit some wal­ru­ses the­re, but that didn’t quite work out as plan­ned. The place was alre­a­dy quite busy …

Pho­to gal­lery – For­lands­und

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

With Arc­ti­ca II in Bil­lefjord

Yes­ter­day we star­ted in Lon­gye­ar­by­en with Arc­ti­ca II. And now we have just about 30 hours behind us, but it feels alre­a­dy like 3 days.

After a look at the wea­ther fore­cast my expec­ta­ti­ons regar­ding this first had been slight­ly limi­t­ed, but as it tur­ned out it was a good decis­i­on to stay in Bil­lefjord. After a visit to the migh­ty Nor­dens­ki­öld­breen – still an impres­si­ve gla­cier, despi­te of its dra­ma­tic retre­at – we found our first polar bear just after the first break­fast on board. And what a beau­tiful sight­ing it was!

The first hike took us up a morai­ne and then along a river whe­re we found coal from the Car­bo­ni­fe­rous (near 300 mil­li­on years old). Much older than the stuff in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Barents­burg and so on. We finis­hed the hike in the old coal pro­s­pec­ting “sett­le­ment” (well, four huts) Bruce­by­en.

Sai­ling out of Bil­lefjor­den took quite some time. Too many wha­les 🙂

We finis­hed this first day – as far as acti­vi­ties out­side were con­cer­ned – at Svenske­hu­set. An ama­zing place with some rather dra­ma­tic histo­ry.

Gal­lery – In Bil­lefjord

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

Polar bear shot in Kross­fjord

A polar bear was shot on Fri­day (05 August) evening in Kross­fjord, while it tried to get into a hut whe­re the­re were seve­ral per­sons insis­de. It is said that the group tried to sca­re the polar bear away wit­hout suc­cess.

The inci­dent is now under inves­ti­ga­ti­ons. Fur­ther details have not yet been released at the time of wri­ting.

Polar bear, Krossfjord

Polar bear in Kross­fjord (archi­ve image).

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