fb  Spitsbergen Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  nb  Spitsbergen Shop  
pfeil The travel blog: Spitsbergen under sail pfeil

Panoramas: Hornsund

Horn­sund: Tres­kelen

Pan­o­r­amic view from the ridge of the Tres­kelen pen­in­su­la over almost the who­le of of Horn­sund. From here, you watch over Bre­pol­len, the inner­most bay of Horn­sund, with its sur­roun­ding gla­ciers. You see the famous moun­ta­ins Bau­taen (“the mono­lith”, towe­ring need­le-sharp and 475 m high over the ent­rance to Bre­pol­len) and Horn­sund­tind, a 1429 m high car­bo­na­te mas­si­ve stan­ding direct­ly on the south shore of Horn­sund. Horn­sund­tind is the hig­hest moun­tain in sou­thern Spits­ber­gen.

The bay Bre­pol­len is now wide-open, but it was com­ple­te­ly fil­led by the sur­roun­ding gla­ciers Stor­breen, Horn­breen and Chom­ja­kov­breen as recent as the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. The bay Bre­pol­len sim­ply didn’t exist befo­re.

In Adria­buk­ta, next to the pen­in­su­la Tres­kelen, the­re is ano­ther old trapper’s cabin. This was the one deepest in the fjord in the days of polar bear hun­ting. The hut is rather small and start­ing to show signs of dete­rio­ra­ti­on.

Horn­sund: Ammo­ni­tøya

Ammo­ni­tøya is a small island in Bre­pol­len (inner­most Horn­sund). The name points towards fos­sils (ammo­ni­tes) dis­co­ver­ed here. The ammo­ni­tes are found in morai­ne sedi­ments cove­ring most of the island, which was gla­cier-cover­ed until the gla­ciers rece­ded in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. The rocks con­tai­ning the fos­sils were brought by gla­ciers from any­whe­re in the catch­ment area of the gla­ciers, which includes lar­ge are­as around Bre­pol­len with sedi­men­ta­ry bed­rock dating to the Juras­sic and Creta­ce­ous (and Ter­tia­ry, but this does not con­tain ammo­ni­tes in Spits­ber­gen).

Whe­re­ver the ammo­ni­tes exact­ly came from, they cer­tain­ly enjoy bril­li­ant views over Bre­pol­len the­se days and more or less regu­lar visits from polar bears.

Horn­sund: Bre­pol­len

View to the east and south from Chol­maks­la, a morai­ne-cover­ed ridge that stret­ches from the moun­tain Mezen­ryg­gen into Bre­pol­len (inner­most Horn­sund). Left and cent­re: Horn­breen (-gla­cier), in the right side back­ground: Men­de­leev­breen.

Horn­sund: Gnå­lod­den

Gnå­lod­den is loca­ted cen­tral­ly in Horn­sund under the moun­tain Gnål­ber­get. You have to keep an eye on many under­wa­ter rocks as you are approa­ching by boat, they have kil­led many zodiac out­board engi­ne pro­pel­lers.

Gnå­lod­den is a place with a lot to see within a small area. Just the rocky shore­li­ne is a sight in its­elf. The flat area is of limi­t­ed size, but beau­tiful­ly green with its mos­sy tun­dra, a clear indi­ca­ti­on for the pre­sence of lar­ge num­bers of Brunich’s guil­l­emots and kit­ty­wa­kes that breed in the steep cliffs of Gnål­ber­get.

The old hut is a real eye­cat­cher. Until the pro­tec­tion of polar bears in 1973, it was part of a clas­si­cal polar bear hun­ting area. The bears came with drift ice around the south cape, up the west coast and into Horn­sund. In some years, hundreds of them migra­ted through the fjord and back to the east coast: rich hun­ting grounds for trap­pers, inclu­ding the legen­da­ry Nor­we­gi­an fema­le hun­ter Wan­ny Wold­stad, who was one of the first acti­ve lady hun­ters in Spits­ber­gen when she win­tered seve­ral times in Horn­sund during the 1930s.

The pan­ora­ma shows the main room of the hut, which is still regu­lar­ly used by sci­en­tists from the near-by Polish rese­arch sta­ti­on and acco­asio­nal­ly by locals from Lon­gye­ar­by­en who take the long trip with snow mobi­les.

Pan­ora­ma: Horn­sund – Gås­ham­na (West)

When you enter Horn­sund, then you will soon have Gås­ham­na on your stard­board side, as it is on the sou­thern side of the fjord. If “Goo­se bay”, as it trans­la­tes, refers to geese that may have been pre­sent when the place got its name, a ship, the Dutch town Goes or an Aus­tri­an count Goess from the 19th cen­tu­ry – the first time the name appeared was on an Aus­tri­an map, drawn by Sterneck and published in 1874 – is not known any­mo­re. But what is well known is that Gås­ham­na pro­vi­des reason­ab­ly good ancho­ra­ge just under the coast and often enough pro­tec­tion from the strong east-wes­ter­ly winds that are so fre­quent in Horn­sund to allow landings in con­di­ti­ons that make other places just impos­si­ble.

Alre­a­dy the wha­lers knew that and estab­lished their sta­ti­ons in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry on both sides of the bay. They hun­ted „Right wha­les“, which we know as Bowhead wha­les today, and left their impres­si­ve bones in lar­ge num­bers blea­ching for cen­tu­ries under mid­night sun and polar night. Exact­ly as you can see them today if you get the­re.

This pan­ora­ma shows the wes­tern side of the bay Gås­ham­na.

Pan­ora­ma: Horn­sund – Gås­ham­na (East)

The wha­lers also left their traces on the east side of Gås­ham­na in shape of piles of migh­ty wha­le­bo­nes. The­se are lying a bit for­got­ten behind a small hill, which draws the atten­ti­on at least initi­al­ly becau­se it is quite obvous­ly a site of major acti­vi­ties in his­to­ri­cal times. It is the win­tering site of the Rus­si­an sec­tion of the Rus­si­an-Swe­dish Arc-de-meri­di­an expe­di­ti­on: not very famous to the public, but cer­tain­ly a major and very suc­cessful under­ta­king to estab­lish the pre­cise shape of the Earth: a per­fect ball or slight­ly flat­ten­ed on the poles? To find that out, you need to pre­cis­e­ly mea­su­re along a meri­di­an both on low and in high lati­tu­des. Spits­ber­gen was the obvious place to get that done. Swe­dish and Rus­si­an sci­en­tists joint their efforts fort his huge task. Both win­tered in 1899-1900. Gås­ham­na is the Rus­si­an site.


Bur­ger­buk­ta is on the nor­t­hern side of Horn­sund, and it dis­plays this beau­tiful pan­ora­ma on its eas­tern shore. The beau­ty of this land­scape in terms of colours and struc­tures is deep­ly roo­ted in its geo­lo­gy. The colou­ra­ti­on is due to the lay­ers: from brow­nish-red Old Red at the bot­tom (Devonian/lower Car­bo­ni­fe­rous) through yel­lo­wish-brown upper Carboniferous/Permian to dark-brown Tri­as­sic at the top. And the defor­ma­ti­on rela­ted to the ope­ning of the north Atlan­tic is respon­si­ble for the beau­tiful folds and bends.

No 360° pan­ora­ma, only works with the Flash Play­er on mobi­le devices, for exam­p­le, with the → Puf­fin-Brow­ser.

Pho­to Gal­le­ries: Horn­sund

Click on the yel­low are­as or the links below the map to view pho­to gal­le­ries from the indi­vi­du­al are­as.


Album Horn­sund

  • Tag 9 - Kross­fjord, Ny Ale­sund

Click on thumb­nail to get the cor­re­spon­ding gal­lery.


Treskelen Brepollen Gnålodden, Burgerbukta Samarinvågen Hornsundtind Gåshamna Isbjørnhamna (Polish research station), Hansbreen


This and other publishing products of the Spitsbergen publishing house in the Spitsbergen-Shop.

last modification: 2017-12-18 · copyright: Rolf Stange