Sunday, August 21, 2011


Note: No goose, nor other bird, was harmed during this hunting episode
The hunting season for the pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) started yesterday and today I had  my first try at hunting here on Svalbard. Me and Kristian took a taxi (About 250NOK)  to Bjørndalen and started to walk up the valley. The weather was quite alright, but a bit foggy.

Bjørndalen. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
Almost as soon as we walked out of the no-hunting zone that encircles Longyearbyen, we spotted a large herd of geese flying around. Judging by the color however it appeared to be brant goose (Branta bernicla) or barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis). The pink-footed goose is normally easy to differ from these because of its brown color, however, the lack of binoculars made it a bit worse.
Herd of geese. (Photo: Kristian Gram Sloth)
Walking up on a small moraine we thought we saw a group of goose in the grass a couple of hundred meters ahead. In order not to scare them away, I asked Kristian to stay behind, while I would try to sneak up on them. When I was just below the little plateu, I loaded my rifle and got ready to creep up. Story short. It was a pile of rocks...

Me sneaking up on some rocks. (Photo: Kristian Gram Sloth)

Kristian the danish hunter. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

We saw quite a lot of goose in the valley, but they were all of the wrong kind, except one. On the other side of a gorge that follows the valley floor I heard a single goose and using the camera we identifyed it as the right one.The only problem was that this gorge had really steep edges and it was impossible for us to cross it in any safe way. We tried to walk further up, but it just seemed to continue forever. In the end we had to give it up.

The /()&(/)& pink-footed goose (Photo: Kristian Gram Sloth)

 At least we got a nice trip and Kristian got some really nice pictures of some reindeer. Back at the road we got a ride with a danish man who drove us all the way up to our barracks.

Beautiful picture of a reindeer. (Photo: Kristian Gram Sloth)

Hike to Smutthullet

Last weekend (sun-mon); me, Hrafnhildur (Iceland), Jochem (Netherlands) and Gauti (Iceland) went to the cabin Smutthullet in Bjørndalen. This is a cabin owned by UNIS and which is open for students (althought you should register prehand at UNIS).

Smutthullet with Isfjorden in the background. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

At first, we were  supposed to be a large group, but due to british planning (which sort of sucks IMO), it ended up being just the four of us. We also had a false start on saturday, when none of the others came, something which made me sort of cranky for the rest of the evening.

Me and Gauti. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
Sunday however, turned out to be a great day for walking; blue sky, sun, little wind and temperatures above 10 Celsius.

Hrafnhildur, Jochem, Gauti and me. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
After having some difficulties crossing the river just outside our house, we went up towards Longyearbreen. On the west side of the Longyearvalley there's a gully which leads up to Platåfjellet. There we saw a herd of 10-12 reindeer as well as the little forest of 16 radars belonging to the Svalsat project.

On our way up to Platåfjellet. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
Panorama from Platåfjellet. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Jochem and Hrafnhildur. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Checking the rifle. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
From Platåfjellet we went southwest towards Nordenskiöldfjellet (1050 moh.) which is the highest mountain on the map (BLAD C9 Adventdalen 1:100 000). Up there we found a small weatherstation and fresh snow without a single track. Here we ate some food and signed the Topptrim - Svalbard book before we continued south along the ridge towards Håbergnuten (1025moh).

Fresh snow and fun. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Weatherstation on Nordenskiöldfjellet. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Gauti, Hrafnhildur and Jochem. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Panorama from Nordenskiöldfjellet. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
 On the way, Jochem decided he wanted to write something in the snow for the airplanes to see. Story short, he mispelled "Marry me" and any Mary on the passing planes are probably wondering/scared/confused

Jochem playing in the snow. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
At Håbergnuten there was no bok to sign, but the view was great, and also here there were a small cabin with a lot of equipment for communications. We also took like a million pictures up here.'
Finally at Håbergnuten. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Inside the shack. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Group-picture (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Group-picture. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Ridge up to Håbergnuten. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

We then proceeded west-northwest towards the beginning of Bjørndalen. We were a bit worried that it would be difficult to get down, but we ended up, sledging down on our butt on the remanins of an old dead glacier.

Hrafnhildur and Jochem on their way down to Bjørndalen. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Me on the way. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

At the valley floor we took a short break and everyone besides me fell to sleep in the terrain and the snorring probably scared away any polar bears roaming arround in the vicinity.

It is hard to be an arctic explorer. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

The last part of the trip was north, through Bjørndalen. We spotted a pink-footed goose that refused to fly and like a million reindeer. Crossing the river was less problematic than expected and we arrived at the cabin around 8pm.

Small canyon through Bjørndalen. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
The cabin was really nice and there were plenty of coal, which we used instead of firewood. For dinner, me and Jochem had Real Turmat while Hrafnhiludr and Gauti (Aka. the noodle-people) had noodles. In the evening, we talked, played the guitar and made a song called "Where oh where is the polar bear":

Valley of bears
We were out on a hike,
in the Björndalen.
Couldn’t find the statue
of the one who hates Stalin.

We followed our nose,
went straight ahead.
Saw a heard of reindeer,
tried to feed them some bread.

We couldn’t stop –
so we swered to the right.
Suddenly got lost –
although it was bright.

Legs got tired,
so went down og our ass.
We lost our way,
our grass, that’s trash.

Oh where oh where,
is the polarstar.
Please lord, tell me
night is not too far.
We have to find it
cos we’re totally lost.
To help us find the cabin
sometime, before frost.

How lucky where we,
wearing jackets of down.
They kept us quite warm,
when wandering around.

Twenty four hours,
still light in our eyes.
Then we realized,
there won’t be no night.

In a panic attack,
one looked up and said.
Hold me darling,
just a little while.

We held her close,
calmed her down with a kiss.
Don’t fear the bears,
cause our snipers won’t miss.

We walked through the mud,
there we saw the print.
With fear in our eyes,
the only choice, was to sprint.

Oh where, oh where,
is the polar bear?
Please lord, keeping him
away from here.
Oh shit! they’re eleven,
and soon we’ll be food.
Oh crap! They’re getting closer,
we will sure – taste good.

Ahhh!!! oooaaaoooaaahhhhh!!!
Ahhh!!! oooaaahhh ooooaaahhh!!!

and so on...

Oh where, oh where,
are the polar bears?
Thanks lorf for keeping them
away from here.
We found an awesome shelter
and now we are safe.
Safe inside a cabin,
wrote this song, and felt brave.

A romantic Realturmat meal. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

The noodlepeople. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Me playing the blues. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Making songs about polar bears. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Sleeping. Notice the light outside. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Coal-bin. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Hrafnhildur and Jochem. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Emptying the toilet. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

In the morning we had a short walk down to the beach and looked at the bird cliff and Isfjorden. Back to Nybyen we walked along the coast via Longyearbyen, a walk that took 2-3 hours (but dreadfully boring).

Birdcliff.  (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

View from the cabin. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Towards isfjorden. (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Annoyingly I learned afterwards that there was actually a Topptrim book to be signed just above the cabin.  wll have to go back and get that signed.

For more pictures, see

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Welcome to my english blog

Upon request I will now start to blog in english. Old post will not be translated, but you can use if you really want to read them.

Cheers! (:

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Torsdag til fredag var det tid for sikkerhetskurs og mitt første møte med UNIS. På torsdagen var det rett på skytebanen etter en kort introduksjon om farene på svalbard (først og fremst været).  Der fikk vi utdelt 20 skudd i kaliber 30-06 og UNIS sine Ruger M77 Hawkeye rifler.

Det var da fire serier, en liggende og tre knestående.  Siste serien ble gjennomført med 4 skudd på 10 sekund. Vi bruker da noe som heter "half  loading" hvor vi kun har skudd  i magasinet, ikke i kammeret. Dette resulterte selvfølgelig i at du hørte klikkene bortover når man skulle fyre av første skuddet. Selv hadde jeg forholdsvis greie klynger og var den eneste som hadde alt  i det svarte på siste serien. Til slutt  fikk vi demonstrert bruk av signalpistol og forklart hvordan denne skal og ikke skal brukes.

Blinkene sto på litt over 30m noe som er den kritiske avstanden for isbjørn.  (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Niklas som har skutt for første gang. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Fortsatt på skytebanen. Det sluddet denne dagen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)
Etter skytetreningen var det badetur med overlevelsesdrakt ved småbåthavnen. Jeg var så heldig å få et av de draktene som ikke hadde hull i, så for min del var det en ganske kul opplevelse. Vi øvde på å ta oss frem og  å klipse oss fast i hverandre i sjøen.

I følge Chloe er orange min farge. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Klar til å hoppe ut i isfjørden på 78 grader nord. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)
Fredagen var det en del teori. Vi fikk litt mer briefing om isbjørn og isbjørnfare. Så hadde vi et minikurs  i førstehjelp som besto av følgende:

First aid practical training:
1. Accident scene evaluation and command
2. ABCDE approach
3. Recovery position
4. CPR
5. Wounds/Bleeding
6. Hypothermia
7. Burns
8. Fractures
9. Use of bivy bags

Til slutt gikk vi igjennom innholdet i "nødboksen" som inneholder utstyr og mat for overlevelse om sommer og vinter. Vi fikk også prøvd å sette opp snublebluss (UNIS bruker militær variant).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Første bestigning av Sarkofagen

I lag med Keir og Francesca besteg jeg i dag Sarkofagen (512 moh.) som ligger rett sørøst for Nybyen. For å komme dit gikk vi opp mot Larsbreen og holdt til høyre langs sidemorenen, før vi fulgte "platået" tilbake mot Sarkofagen. Det var litt tåke i det fjerne, men utsikten var bra (: På vei nedover fikk vi også med oss et lite steinras som gikk på andre siden av dalen og minte om at dette er et svært aktivt prosessmiljø.

"Drittkjegle" på vei opp mot Larsbreen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Breforlandet til Larsbreen er preget av den svært trange dalen og en god del sedimenter. På dalsidene har kombinasjonen av ras og oppbygningen av morener begravd store mengder is helt frem mot dalåpningen slik at dalen har et tilnærmet v-profil heller enn den klassiske u-dalsprofilen. Her var også en god del "drittkjegler" som er sedimentkjegler med en iskjerne som dannes supraglasialt.

Nybyen og Longyearbyen i bakgrunnen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Francesca og Keir på vei oppover. (Foto: Alexander Hovland) 

Jeg tror ikke noen av oss er i spesielt god form og på vei oppover hadde vi en liten konkurranse om hvem som hadde den dårligste/beste unnskyldningen. Rett før bildet ovenfor fant vi forresten rester av et reinsdyr og en kan jo spekulere i om hvem som har forsynt seg av det.

Larsbreen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland) 

Keir og Francesca. Larsbreen i bakgrunnen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)
 Når vi kom opp i fra morenen var det ganske flat hele veien bort til Sarkofagen. Vi så en del reinsdyrsspor, men ingen reinsdyr til Francescas store skuffelse.

Frostpolygoner. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Longyearbreen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Panoramabilde med Francesca og Longyearbyen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Obligatorisk gruppebilde mot Larsbreen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)

Supraglasial smeltevannskanal på Larsbreen. (Foto: Alexander Hovland)