Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Svalbard again

Following on from my post early last week Louis arrived in Jersey and it was great to catch up after nearly 30 years.  It is a privilege and fascinating to spend time with somebody whose life has been spent in such a complete contrast to our own.  I may have some idea about the challenges facing young people and education but ask me about how to clean eider down and it's price on the global market and I haven't a clue.
In 1983 I always planned to return to Svalbard to undertake some other entertaining adventures.  Most I have achieved, including sea kayaking in Greenland, but one or two have escaped me.  perhaps with contact re-established with Louis at least 1 of these challenges may be achievable.  Only time will tell but in the mean time here are a few more pictures taken in this arctic outpost over 30 years ago.  Apologies for the quality of some of the scans from my old slides.
Whilst sea kayaking off the west coast the scenery was particularly dramatic.  It doesn't matter how many photographs you see, nothing can prepare you for the first time you paddle past an ice front.
Conditions were not always co-operative.  We were aiming to camp near the approaching headland.  On most paddling days we spent about 8 hours on the water so it was always a pleasure to get the tents up and some warm food inside us on days like this one.
 In 1926 Roald Amundsen left from this tower, in Ny Alesund, in his airship "Norge" for his flight over the North Pole.  The other interesting thing about Ny Alesund is that it has the world's most northern post office and we were able to pick up some mail.
It was rare that we were able to stand around camp without full protective clothing on, but on this particularly still morning towards the north of Spitsbergen Dave is looking at the freshly fallen snow on the mountains behind.
 After a great days sea kayaking there is nothing more risky than jumping from one ice floe to another whilst wearing fleece trousers.
In totally remote areas there is nobody to see you when you decide to wander around on a glacier whilst wearing wellingtons.  You might not get away with this level of equipment on Mt Blanc!
Heading back into Longyearbyen towards the end of August, we had been in Svalbard for over 2 months and as the first of the winter snows fell we knew that it was time to head south to the warmer waters of Jersey.

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