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Sorgfjord

1 = Aeo­lus­ne­set,
2 = Cro­zier­pyn­ten

Map Sorgfjord

Gene­ral: Situa­ted just under 80°N at the nor­the­as­tern cor­ner of Spits­ber­gen at the ent­ran­ce to the Hin­lo­pen Strait, Sorgfjord is a sce­nic litt­le fjord with a lot of inte­res­ting histo­ry. In ear­lier years, Sorgfjord was also cal­led ‘Treu­renburg Bai’.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Geo­lo­gy: Upper Pre­cam­bri­an, non-meta­mor­phic sedi­ments such as quar­zi­tes and dolo­mi­tes, tec­to­ni­cal­ly defor­med and most­ly stee­ply dipping. The same rocks are found fur­ther south in the Lomfjord, in the nor­the­as­tern Hin­lo­pen Strait and on Lågøya.

The mountain Heclahuken east of Sorgfjord

The moun­tain Hecla­hu­ken east of Sorgfjord.

Steeply dipping upper Precambrian sediments (light-grey quarzitic sandstone and dark silt- and claystone) on the eastern side of the Sorgfjord (Crozierpynten)

Stee­ply dipping upper Pre­cam­bri­an sedi­ments (light-grey quar­zi­tic sand­stone and dark silt- and clay­stone) on the eas­tern side of the Sorgfjord (Cro­zier­pyn­ten).

Recom­men­ded book for fur­ther, well-digesta­ble (real­ly!) info about geo­lo­gy and land­s­cape of Sval­bard.

Land­s­cape: Low pla­teau-shaped moun­tains with wide coas­tal plains, on which the­re are well-deve­lo­ped seri­es of beach rid­ges. The inte­riour south of Sorgfjord is stron­gly gla­cia­ted.

Sorgfjord is a beau­ti­ful area for hiking. The nort­hern part of Mag­da­len­af­jel­let can be reached rela­tively easi­ly with a bit of stami­na and sure-foo­ted­ness.

View over the inner Sorgfjord

View over the inner Sorgfjord.

Flo­ra and Fau­na: Qui­te bar­ren, not an out­stan­ding wild­life site. Occa­sio­nal­ly rein­de­er, and the moun­tains are, as can be expec­ted, good pla­ces to find ptar­mi­gan. The fre­quen­cy of wal­rus sightin­gs has incre­a­sed in recent years, a very posi­ti­ve sign of the come­back of this spe­ci­es after it had been hun­ted almost to regio­nal extinc­tion until the 1950s.

Histo­ry: Varied. The name ‘Sorgfjord’ (Worry fjord) goes back to the wha­lers and may refer to dif­fi­cul­ties with the ice in this cor­ner of Spits­ber­gen, whe­re the Gulf Stream is loo­sing its influ­ence. It could also refer to armed con­flicts bet­ween dif­fe­rent wha­ling nati­ons: In 1693, the Sorgfjord saw the nort­hern­most sea batt­le ever when thee French war­s­hips brought up 40 Dut­ch wha­ling ships. 13 Dut­ch ships were cap­tu­red, the rest escaped. A litt­le gra­vey­ard at Eolus­ne­set on the wes­tern side of Sorgfjord reminds us of the dan­gers of a whaler’s life. It was used by wha­lers in the 17th and 18th cen­tu­ries, cer­tain­ly inclu­ding Dut­ch wha­lers, pos­si­b­ly also from other coun­tries.

In 1827, the Eng­lish­man Wil­liam Edward Par­ry ancho­red on the east side of Sorgfjord with his ship Hec­la. The bay, loca­ted direct­ly south of Cro­zier­pyn­ten, has sin­ce been known as Hecla­ham­na (Hec­la har­bor).

The hill Flagg­stang­h­au­gen on Cro­zier­pyn­ten is just 31 meters high. Some­ti­mes this is more than enough for a gre­at view. Hecla­ham­na is on the sou­thern side of Cro­zier­pyn­ten.

Par­ry tried to reach the north pole with spe­cial­ly con­struc­ted sledge boats that could both be rowed in open water and pul­led over ice, but he had to turn around at 82°40’N due to the dif­fi­cul­ties the ice pro­vi­ded and the cur­rent which was against him and his men. The dis­co­very of this NW-SE going cur­rent was, at least, a very signi­fi­cant one. As a con­se­quence, Spits­ber­gen was most­ly igno­red by fol­lowing expe­di­ti­ons aiming for the north pole, who favou­red arc­tic Cana­da and nort­hern Green­land ins­tead for their bases.

The Eolus cross (Eolus­kor­set) at Eolus­ne­set

The cross to which the litt­le pen­in­su­la Eolus­ne­set owes its name. It was erec­ted on June 06, 1855, by skip­per J. Holm­gren, Cap­tain of the schoo­ner Æolus from Ber­gen. The ship was trap­ped in ice for some weeks, and then it is of cour­se always good to build a cross – you never know. In 1861, Æolus was the­re again, with the famous Swe­dish sci­en­tist Otto Torell on board.

The Swe­dish-Rus­si­an Arc-de-Meri­di­an Expe­di­ti­on (1899-1904) used the eas­tern side of the Sorgfjord (Heclahamna/Crozierpynten) for one of their head­quar­ters.

Remains of the buildings of the Arc-de-Meridian-expedition at Crozierpynten

Remains of the buil­dings of the Arc-de-Meri­di­an-expe­di­ti­on at Cro­zier­pyn­ten.

The list of tho­se who visi­ted Cro­zier­pyn­ten in the 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry is almost a who-is-who of arc­tic explo­ra­ti­on of tho­se years … the abo­ve-men­tio­ned Edward Par­ry (1827), the Swe­dish sec­tion of the Rus­si­an-Swe­dish Arc-de-meri­di­an-expe­di­ti­on estab­lis­hed their win­te­ring quar­ters the­re in 1899, and the Her­zog Ernst, ship of the Schrö­der-Stranz-expe­di­ti­on, was for­ced to spend the win­ter 1912-13 the­re, while the lea­der hims­elf, Her­bert Schrö­der-Stranz, was most likely alrea­dy dead on Nord­aus­t­land. This list is anything but com­ple­te. Not to men­ti­on all the trap­pers who win­te­red the­re when the Swe­dish house was still stan­ding upright.

The sta­ti­on of the Arc-de-Meri­di­an expe­di­ti­on on the sou­thern side of Cro­zier­pyn­ten was built in 1899 by the Swe­dish sec­tion of the abo­ve-men­tio­ned expe­di­ti­on and sub­se­quent­ly used to win­ter the­re. The expe­di­ti­on is sur­pri­sin­gly litt­le known, but it was very suc­cess­ful and brought a wealth of topo­gra­phic and other sci­en­ti­fic mate­ri­al back home without any loss of life, qui­te in con­trast to many others in tho­se ear­ly years.

Later, Sorgfjord was the pivo­tal point for the ill-fated Schrö­der-Stranz-Expe­di­ti­on.

Trap­pers did not win­ter too fre­quent­ly in Sorgfjord. They pre­fer­red Wij­defjord, the neigh­bou­ring fjord fur­ther west, which was easier to reach and pro­vi­ded bet­ter hun­ting oppor­tu­nities. It was easier to get home again ear­ly in the sum­mer after a win­te­ring from Wij­defjord than from Sorgfjord, whe­re the drift ice would often block the pas­sa­ge around Ver­le­gen­hu­ken from qui­te some time into the sum­mer. The­re is still the ruin of a trap­per hut on the north side of Eolus­ne­set, but it has never been more than a small, secon­da­ry hut used occa­sio­nal­ly on hun­ting trips from the main ter­ri­to­ry fur­ther west, in nort­hern Wij­defjord.

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last modification: 2019-03-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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