After spending the last 5 weeks among snowy valleys, tidewater glaciers and a lot of like-minded folks, I still feel that I have very little to write. And this stems only in part to my crappy writing style, but more so that it is difficult to put into words what Svalbard means to me.
The Norwegian Arctic Archipelago lies ~1500km north of Tromsø in the Barents Sea and for the last 5 weeks and on previous occasions has been my home. And I use 'home' not just as my location for more than a few days, but as somewhere which keeps bringing me back and somewhere that I feel genuinely attached to. I often contemplate what it is that appeals so heavily to me. I contemplate this on the 30 minute walk from the main town of Longyearbyen up to the old mining barracks where many of the students live... a journey which sees some pipes sticking out of the ground, a reasonable amount of traffic (some teenagers revving their snowscooters) and an occasional foul odour which lingers around the Gym Hall (I don't think it's people in Gym). I further contemplate this when half of my daily energy, which is sapped due to the general lack of sun associated with time of year and cloud cover, is consumed by planning a simple trip up to a local peak due to acquiring a group size reasonable enough equipped with rifles, crampons, avalanche gear etc etc.
Yet when it all comes together when you reach a peak, the sun lifts itself above the valley and throws some much needed vitamin D your way! When you take a scooter ride with many great friends to a glacier that you visited during summer. It now looks completely different, and yet so familiar that you forget that you are currently standing on sea ice where previously you needed a boat to get the same view. Or perhaps its the ability to abseil into the base of a glacier through a network of stunning tunnels which were successively carved deeper year by year from highly velocity melt water during the summer.
As I often like, I want to share some photos of said experiences as no one wants to read about cool things when you can see them.. Unfortunately the total number of pictures taken by me is == 0. Thus I hope to rely upon a few borrowed (and credited) pictures of others whom I was generally with at the time and hope they don't mind too much.
|First weekend - -22C, 25m/s wind, let's do the macarana (Photo -Mariana Esteves)|
|Igloo above an ice cave on Longyearbreen, I would totally live here (Photo - Saskia Gindraux)|
|Longyearbreen ice cave- interesting features eating my arm (photo -Jessica Scheick)|
|Scooter trip to ScottTurnerbreen during the first week (Photo - Noel Fitzpatrick)|
|Chilling above Gruve 2, some nice stars (Photo - Andi Alex)|
|My first northern lights, so awesome (Photo - Andi Alex)|
|Return of the Tunabreen... so good to be back, I was even considered a responsible person and thus awarded a bright orange jacket! :) (Photo - Michele Petrini)|
Sad to now be sat in an empty room with bags yet again packed to leave behind my homely arctic island... until next time.
But to all those who have shared good times, good trips and good elevator parties with me over my time here, I say thank you, take care and ha det bra.