Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas and new year in the arctic

The Christmas vacation is coming to an end and a new semester at UNIS is about to start (8th of January with safety courses). Unlike most of the students, I did not return home, but spent my christmas vacation here on Svalbard. Here is a brief summary of my Christmas.

DogsThe main occupation during my vacation has been with the two, and later three dogs that I've been taking care of. Pernille and Tritina stayed over christmas, while Worsley arrived the 1st of January. They are all staying up at the dog yard on top of one of the moraines of Longyearbreen (<1km SW of Nybyen) and feed once a day.

The dog yard and snow scooter lights on Longyearbreen (Access to the glacier on the right side) (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
In return I have got to use the dogs for skiing around which has been a new and fun experience. As fun as it is however; sometimes it can be a nightmare i.e. when they refuse to start or stop. My hope was to use the vacation for some serious trips, but sadly there has generally been little snow and busy day. We went to Bjørndalen on a few occasions however, both with and without sledge.

Pernille and Tritina ready for the trip to Bjørndalen (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Pernille ( Photo: Alexander Hovland)

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In general there has been few and only minor problems, although a bit traumatic for Tritina when the  wind knocked over the dog house with her in it.
 
Pernille and Tritina are the dogs of Knut Ola. Worsley (after Frank Arthur Worlsey) belongs to Bård and arrived the 1st of January on the plane. Worsley has sadly been very nervous and had almost gnawed his way out of the dog yard; for now he is standing on a chain. Much calmer today however.

Worsley looking a bit sad/nervous as always(?) (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

A dog family (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Christmas
Prior to Christmas Eve I spent some time at Bjørndalen, preparing the cabin for Christmas and doing some maintenance. I also went out with the dogs and spent a night there, returning with the sledge full of trash. Weather in general was harsh, and upon returning towards Longyearbyen the dogs absolutely refused to run against the wind, but were instead hiding behind my legs. 

Chained up at Smutthullet (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
Christmas eve came, and it ended up being me, Cara (American), Niklas (Swedish), Daria (Russian), Angelina (Ukrainian) and Dave (The-Indian-Guy from India). A Christmas-tree was brought (300NOK for Danish fir at Svalbardbutikken)  and decorated like a proper Christmas tree. Presents from back home was placed under the Christmas tree and the Pinnekjøtt turned out perfect! Even the weather cleared up during the evening and we had Christmas in the polar night with shooting stars and northern light.

2kg of pinnekjøtt ready for transport (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

The indian guy (Photo: Alexander Hovland)

Daria and Angelina (Photo: Alexander Hovland)
Between Christmas and New Year's Eve I mostly spent time racing around with the dogs, shooting and doing... Well, I did something.
New Year's Eve
A friend of mine, Mariann, arrived on the 30th of December to stay with me over New Year's Eve. I introduced her to rifle-shooting which...well. I don't think she liked it; then again cal. 30-06 is a scary caliber. She also got to try skiing with the dogs and did it impressively well.

New year's eve we went to Huset, which is a popular and the only club here on Svalbard. At 00:00 we had champagne and there were probably more rockets in the air then there are people here on Svalbard. Mariann returned home the 1st of January.

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