Südkap Expedition

April 04

 

ZURÜCK ZU

SPITZBERGEN 2004-05

 

 

Zum Bericht Jänner 2004 - Juli 2004

 

Zum Bericht August 2004 - September 2005

 

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APRIL 2004:

 

And then finally came the Easter time, the best time in spring to go on trips! Valeska went on a ten-day trip with some friends and I was out with Fabrice, an old Svalbard friend of mine for our Southcape Expedition 2004.

 

The idea was to reach the southernmost point of Spitzbergen on skies, turn around and walk back. We had only 20 days for the whole trip (about 450/500 km), so we needed to be fast and have good weather to hit the target... - but read more in the following...


02.04. Longyearbyen

 

 

Fabrice arrived in Longyearbyen just the day before, and we tried to have a quick final discussion and packing.


03.04: Longyearbyen - Reindalen

 

 

 

Start 11 a.m. Sunny all day. Crossed the mountains to the south in a valley system. Hard work with the heavy pulks (around 60 kg each).

 


 

04.04. Reindalen - Brommeldalen

 

 

 

The night was too warm. Walked in complete "whiteout" the first hours until we reached Van Mijenfjord. Wind started on the fjord ice and we crossed the fjord with our kites. Long evening walk into Brommeldalen...

 


 

05.04. Brommeldalen - Van Keulenfjorden

 

 

Whiteout again. With GPS we found our way across another mountain range and across two big glaciers leading us down to Van Keulenfjorden. Made an extra loop because of zero-visibility on the 750 m high pass. Put the tent in the moraine-area beside the fjord...

 


 

06.04. Van Keulenfjorden - Narthostbreen

 

  

 

5:30 a.m. We got waken up by the explosion of our polar-bear-trip-wire (you put that stuff around the tent - if the bear steps into it, it explodes and you wake up - hopefully!). Jumped out of the tent with the rifle. There was a bear 4 meter from the tent, looking surprised at me in my underwear. He was much too close. Wanted to shoot a signal-penger from the signal-pen first - it didn’t work (of course). I had the rifle ready to shoot. One more movement in our direction and I would have shot. Fabrice and me started to scream at the bear "uhhh..., ahhhh..., go away you ...#..-..#...#... or we’ll ahhhh..., ohhhh... use the 300 magnum!" That worked better. The bear stood up to his hind-legs, turned around and off he went. Tried to "sleep" again for a little while. The bear didn’t return.

Went down to the fjord-ice after breakfast. Kited across the fjord with perfect speed and nice wind. Walked into the fjord towards the glaciers against the wind. Saw a polarbear running from one iceberg to the other searching for seals. Stepped on the enormous glacier of Narthostbreen and pitched the tent two hours further up the glacier...

 


 

07.04. Narthostbreen - Norbreen

 

 

No polarbear this night. Walked the whole day in whiteout across huge ice-caps (at least on the map we could see they were big). Permanently strong wind and snow-drift in the face. Built a big snow-wall on the wind side of the tent...

 


 

08.04. Storm

 

 

 

The Storm started at night and became extremely strong. All day the tent was shaking like hell. Impossible to even stand outside or repair the snow-wall to protect the tent from the wind - the storm just took the snow on the shovel and blew it off. The highlight of the day: food!

 


 

09.04. Storm

 

 

The storm was blowing the whole night and the whole day without getting any weaker. Impossible to even talk in the tent, as it was so loud that we had to shout with each other. Everything started to get more and more wet. In the evening the wind started to change direction - not good, since we were in a tunnel-tent. The storm was so strong that we were really worried about the tent...

 


 

10.04. Storm

 

 

At night the wind direction changed more and more. The tent seemed to collapse from side wind. Started to sit with the back against the tent-wall around midnight, doing one and a half hour shifts until around midday, when suddenly the wind completely died down from one second to the other. Went outside and built a gigantic snow wall. Relaxed the first time. Some kind of clearing up in the evening...

 

Because of the 3 days storm we had to change plans. Until now we were really fast and already very far south - two days from target - but were running out of time now. We might not have had enough extra days left for the home trip if we would continue south and the weather would have trapped us again for some days. Another problem was that there was a crevasse-zone in front of us and there was whiteout again on the 11th of April, so it was not possible to go that way. We had to turn around, but could play with the time now and made a long and nice trip home...

 


 

11.04. Norbreen - Narthostbreen

 

 

 

Sun in the morning. While packing wind started, as we start walking - whiteout, with GPS we found the way north. Better visibility in the afternoon. Tried to kite, but wind died down completely...

 


 

12.04. Narthostbreen - Davisdalen

 

   

 

Almost perfect weather, stepped from the glacier down to the Van Keulenfjorden. Clouds were coming from southeast but didn’t catch us the whole day. Crossed the fjord. Lots of polarbear tracks and a big polarbear just before we wanted to put up the tent (of course). Therefore pitched it in Davisdalen - just to get a bit away from the fjord and the polarbears. A polar-fox came for a visit to the tent entrance...

 


 

13.04. Davisdalen - Van Mijenfjorden

 

  

 

While having breakfast in the tent the polar-bear-tripwire banged. The fox was back jumping into it and stared at me, when I jumped outside with the rifle in my hand and oats in my mouth. Went back to the fjord. Kited all the fjord out until the open sea in the west with good wind.  The open sea looked fantastic. Started to cross the mountains north towards van Mijenfjorden. Had to carry the pulks on the slopes (awful work!) up to the pass. After the pass - down to Van Mijenfjord - it was an even steeper gorge. Had to abseil the pulks some 10 meters and then drag through a cave. It was fun but really hard work...

 


 

14.04. Van Mijenfjorden - Bromeldalen

 

 

 

Weather was fine but very windy from the wrong direction. Tried to kite against the wind, but it was too strong to make any progress. Started walking again. Perfect view across the fjord. Wind increased in the evening. Tented in a side valley for wind shelter...

 


 

15.04. Bromeldalen - Gustavdalen

 

 

 

Still on the big fjord. Crossed over against heavy wind into Gustavdalen and tented in front of the glaciers...

 


 

16.04. Gustavdalen - Reindalen

   

 

Weather was good. Dragged the pulkas up the steep glacier to the 700 meter high pass. Nice wind on the pass. Kited down the flat Slakbreen on the north side. Lots of fun and snow was perfect for kiting. Wind increased dramatically on the lower part. Fabrice pulled the emergency-line to get the kite down. I crashed badly and was dragged by the out-of-control kite for some hundred meters before I managed to get it off me and down to the ground. Packed down the kites. Lost tent and fuel when I crashed but found both again (phu!). Used the little ski-sail (a prototype of the outfitter Northland) for the rest of the glacier. Went east into Reindalen. Heavy wind started in the evening. Camped in a little depression and built a big wall...


17.04. Storm

 

 

At night storm started and blew the whole day like crazy. Lots of snow-drift buried the tent. Sometimes we went out to repair the wall and get the snow off the tent...

 


 

18.04. Reindalen - Reindalspasset

 

 

Still storm in the morning, but it stopped around midday. Started walking east. Still very windy from time to time. Tented on the pass...

 


 

19.04. Reindalspasset - Adventdalen

 

 

No wind, nice weather, sunny and nice in the afternoon. Crossed the pass into Adventdalen. Great landscape. Came into Adventdalen. Little wind and tried to kite with no success... too little wind.

 


 

20.04. Adventdalen - Longyearbyen

 

 

Perfect weather, the best day of the trip. Walked just a few hours to Longyearbyen. Had the most pizza in my life for dinner...

 


 

We were 18 days on the run, four of which we were trapped in the tent during storm. On the 14 remaining days we walked 450 km, 3000 meters uphill and had an average of 32 km per day.

We were eating 5500 calories per day per person and were drinking only ice cold water, since our main stove broke down on the first day and the spare one used more fuel.

 

The big, 3-day storm was the strongest ever measured on Spitzbergen in this time of the year. 30 people were rescued in the storm and one polish guy disappeared - the papers in Norway and Scandinavia were full of stories from Spitzbergens Easter-tragedies...  

 


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