Sunday, October 9, 2011

Daytrip to Fardalen

Fardalen is a valley about 9km south of Longyearbyen. It is a Branch of Colesdalen draining southward for about 7,5 km before connection with the mainvalley. In the winter this is the main passage from Adventfjorden to Grønfjorden. The name does not imply "a distant valley", but come from the norwegian word "far" which in this case means "passage" and thus it  is the "valley of passage".
(Adapted from Svalbardkartet (Norsk Polarinstitutt))
The trip was just not for fun. As previously posted, Francesca is doing some work on Dryadebreen, a glacier draining into Fardalen from the northern side of Håbergnuten. This time we had crampons and could just follow the top of the Longyearbreen(Longyear glacier) to the valleyopening between Lars Hiertafjellet and Teltberget which represent a relict ice-divide for the glacier. You can walk on Longyearbreen more or less safe without rope and harnesses. This is due the polar regime of the glacier, meaning it is cold based and frozen to the ground which in turn means that ice-movement is slow. Therefor there are only a few and very shallow crevasses (<1m). There are however some supraglacial meltwater channels that one should watch out for. Especially the one running running along the eastern margin of the glacier.

So after checking the weather forecast we decided on starting early in order to get back and forth to Nybyen before the snow would come. The plan was to start six a clock, however when I woke up at 04.45 to have breakfast and pack, I went on facebook only to learn that we started an hour later. This made me slightly annoyed since I only had a few hours of sleep. I did go to bed at 22.00, but there was a party going on which was a bit loud and I couldn't sleep until I around 01.00 crawled into our storage room with a sleeping bag

However. At 07.00, me, Francesca and Niklas was walking up the moraines in front of Longyearbreen. The weather was really nice with -8 degrees celcius, little wind, and only a few clouds hanging on the sky. We put on our crampons and soon encounted a small problem. Niklas had gotten a pair of broken crampons. However, due to recent snow, it was not so slippery on the glacier and Niklas did not slip to many times(:. The meltwater channels were for the most easy to identify by the slightly whiter color, although we did sink slightly into a few of them. 

Putting on crampons (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
Looking back at Longyearbyen. Platåfjellet to the left
and Sarkofagen to the right (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Group photo from the glacier  
(Photo: Alexander Hovland (On timer))
It took us about one and a half hour to cross the glacier and it was beautiful sight as we looked into Fardalen with the sun peaking over Karl Bayfjellet (After managing director of Store Norske 1885-1930). 
Niklas Brådemark. A real
swedish vegetarian viking 
(Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Valley opening at the top of Longyearbreen with 
Teltberget to the right (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Sunset in Fardalen (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
From there it took us about one hour to reach the moraine-system in front of Dryadebreen. There I left Franscesca and Niklas with a rifle. And went to explore Fardalen and look for some huntable birds (Rock ptarmigans (Lagopus muta ssp)). Despite my best effort I only found a feather and some smaller herds of reindeer running around. No polar bears either. Apparently I'm not a very good hunter.

View into Colesdalen (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Dryadebreen with Håbergnuten to the left. We entered 
Fardalen through the valley right of Dryadebreen.
(Photo: Alexander Hovland)
After a while I returned to Fransesca and Niklas who were both a bit cold and after a bit of chocolate and a frozen apple we started to return home the same as we came. We stopped for a bit of food and enjoyed the view. Francesca also had her first wee in the wild (hurrah for Fran!).

On the way back across the glacier me and Francesca also found one of the few crevasses on Longyearbreen (going across 2/4 down from the top as we both stepped into it at the same time. Not deep and only good fun however. As we were reaching the front of the glacier the snow came and our timing turned out to be perfect. We arrived backat Nybyen  in the late afternoon.

On a side note. I sadly seem to have some problems with my left knee. It's been hurting a bit the last weeks and I suspect it might be something called a runner's knee (Chondromalacia patellae). The bad news is that I have to take it more easy and let it heal the next couple of weeks. The good news is that it is not as serious as other types of knee injuries. I've gotten an appointment next week and I'll know more then.


  1. Patellofemoralt smertesyndrom! Kom deg til fysioterapaut og få tøyningsøvelsar. Så ordner det seg ;)

    Og gode sko når du på liv og død må ut å jogga. Har du ikkje gode joggesko er det ikkje synd på deg, nemlig. Tenk.

  2. Dei er berre..ehh..3-4år gamle altså! :D