Blomsterdalen is a little valley on the north slope of Platåberg near Longyearbyen, behind the airport.
Pano 1: Blomsterdalshøgda, view into Blomsterdalen
This group of cairns, situated in about 200 metres altitude, is easy to reach and has a fine view over Adventfjord. A nice destination of an easy little mountain hike. From this side of the ridge, we have the view into Blomsterdalen which is coming down from Platåberg.
Blomsterdalshøgda, the “Flower valley height”
Blomsterdalshøgda translates as “Flower valley height”, and indeed, there are various flowers here and there. We spent some time fiddling with the cameras, trying to get good images of the flowers by using the focus stacking technique. This involves a series of photos, each one taken with a slightly different focus, and then combining the photos later to an image with increased depth of field.
Arctic mouse ear chickweed (Cerastium arcticum) on Blomsterdalshøgda.
This image was made with the focus stacking technique to increase the depth of field (compare to the conventional photo below).
Arctic mouse ear chickweed on Blomsterdalshøgda. Conventional photo with much less depth of field than the image above with is made with the focus stacking method.
Blomsterdalshøgda: mountain walk and mining history near Longyearbyen
Blomsterdalshøgda is a ridge on the east side of Blomsterdalen. If you start walking from the road to the airport, where the way to Mine 3/SvalSat branches off, then the higher part of the ridge can easily be reached within an hour. It is certainly not a big full day hike and not the most exciting mountain walk in the vicinity of Longyearbyen, but that doesn’t mean that it does not have anything to offer.
Pano 2: Blomsterdalshøgda, view over Adventfjord
Close to the location of panorama 1, but a few metres over to the other side of the ridge so we have the view over Adventfjord, with the airport and the camping place and Longyearbyen and Adventdalen.
But there is one particular aspect that makes Blomsterdalshøgda unique, especially for those interested in the mining history of Spitsbergen. In about 250 m altitude, there is an old mine entrance. Before I forget to mention it: old coal mines are life dangerous and should absolutely not be entered, not just because of the danger of falling rocks, but also – mainly – because of gas that may leak out from the coal seam.
This mine may be unimpressive at a quick glance, but it is one of Spitsbergen’s oldest coal mines and it was the very first one in the Longyearbyen area. This is where it all started! 🙂
Pano 3: Trøndergruva
A couple of metres below the actual mine entrance.
Early coal mining in Spitsbergen: Bohemanneset and Adventfjord
The first attempt to mine coal for commercial purposes is usually associated with Søren Zachariassen who extracted 600 hl of coal at Bohemanneset, which you can actually see across the fjord from Blomsterdalshøgda. But that was a short-lived enterprise, it was abandoned after just one season.
Only two years later, another attempt was made in Adventfjord, and this attempt was to be more long-living. In 1901, a company from Bergen in Norway started trial mining at Adventfjellet (today known as Adventtoppen), on the north side of Adventfjord, opposite the airport. No more than 5 tons of coal were extracted. The work at Adventfjellet was continued in 1903 and a mine called Advent City was operated at this site from 1904 to 1908 by an English-Norwegian mining company.
Henrik Næss and the Trondhjem-Spitsbergen Kulkompani
Meanwhile, word was spreading in Norway that mining in Spitsbergen might be the next big thing. Skipper Henrik Næss from Trondheim sent a couple of people to occupy “any coal field” that might be available. The group settled at Hotellneset, not far from where the airport is today, and investigated the coal occurrence on the north slope of Platåberg in the area of Blomsterdalen. The results were found promising and Næss founded the Trondhjem-Spitsbergen Kulkompani. The little mine that was established on Blomsterdalshøgda is now known as Trøndergruva, after the part of Norway where Trondheim is located.
View into Trøndergruva on Blomsterdalshøgda.
Pano 4: Trøndergruva
The entrance of Trøndergruva: the first coal mine in the area of Longyearbyen.
John Munro Longyear and the Arctic Coal Company
The American John Munro Longyear had visited Spitsbergen for the first time 1901 as a cruise ship passenger. He got samples of the coal at Platåberg, founded the Arctic Coal Company and bought the coal field from the Trondhjem-Spitsbergen Kulkompani. In 1906, Longyear went ahead with his Arctic Coal Company and started mining in Adventfjord. For his new mining settlement, he did not use Hotellneset near Blomsterdalen, but the valley on the east side of the mountain, today known as Longyeardalen. The rest is history.