Jänner 04 - August 04
Zum Bericht August 2004 - September 2005
Zur Südkap Expedition 2004
JANUARY and FEBRUARY 2004:
After a long train, bus and plane ride, we reached our new home on 78 degrees north. We were welcomed we were with freezing -26° Celsius, storm and darkness. It was really strange the first weeks, as the polar night is what it is... night all day. In the beginning it didn’t even become a little lighter. But the first weeks were also the time with the clearest sky, the coldest temperatures (below -30°C) and the most spectacular northern lights, that often covered almost the whole sky...
Our first trip was a "night trip" to Bjørndalen (Bear Valley), where there is a cabin we could use. It was really cold on our way, it was dark and we saw northern lights all the time. When we reached the cabin it took hours to get it warm to a somehow cozy temperature. Anyway it was a nice trip and it was cold and dark on our way back too...
The first week we were taking part in the universities safety course (where I, since I’m not a student, was allowed to be in too). Some little lectures on how to (maybe) survive when something happens and of course some practical things like shooting, building up emergency camps and stuff like that.
And here a little story, "Gunhilds story", that you get an idea were we are. Valeska and I went on a skiing trip with three others. Just a short trip, as light was weak and temperatures were
deep down. There was some little wind on the summit of the mountain we had climbed and it became freezing cold. Afterwards Valeska had some frost marks on her feet, and same was with my toes. But there was another girl that had joined us... she had black toes on one foot and froze her foot on 2nd and 3rd grade. She was in hospital for some time then and still couldn’t feel anything in her toes for the next half a year.
Then came the twilight time, that means it became a little lighter every day, or in other words, there was some light interruption in the polar night... colors were amazingly nice. If being on the mountain it was reddish in the south and dark bluish in the north! Just so great! And it was even light enough for skiing without headlight (a big step forward to the sunny side)!
The last northern lights were seen sometime around mid of March (if I remember right).
since then it really started to get more light every day - 20 minutes more per day - suddenly the sun was back in Longyearbyen. Oh, but wait a second, that was the theory..., in reality weather became very bad in march already, which means, temperatures climbed up around zero, there was snow, storm and rain (!). The usual sunny and cold spring days were missing almost completely so far... But anyway, the light came back, and the more light there was, the more skiing was done...
But it was too warm, and lots of avalanches were triggered around the village, killing one person - I was with the rescue team, searching for almost 24 hours... - somehow a very sad experience.
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 Spitzbergen 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...
...read and see more !!!
MAI and JUNE 2004:
Snow melted rapidly now, and we went on a three week trip to mainland Scandinavia, to visit friends and do some hiking.
Back on Svalbard we unpacked the summer clothing collection (swimming suites, beach towels,...) and started some hiking trips.
Hey, wait, there was something else. The Svalbard Marathon, the northernmost Marathon in the world took place in June. It was a nice and sunny day and with 3 hours 22 minutes I won my class (18-39) and made the 3rd place on the whole thing.
Then we started with hiking and had a nice, short trip first with the two Greenland-dogs, we were taking care of sometimes already during winter. The two crazy bastards carried bags, like small horses, but still were so powerful to pull us left and right and wherever they wanted - or better explained, wherever they could smell a reindeer... Anyway, time with the dogs was great, and the longer the hike, the more team we became with those boys...
After this trip we packed our back bags again, to be out for almost three weeks - heck, with all the safety stuff (you know, the bear can eat you up just as a snack in this uncivilized wilderness... hehe!) and all the food (for us; only secondarily for the bear - if we can say so...) we had so heavy backpacks, almost impossible to carry... - but somehow we managed easily... - of course...) and had a great trip east, then south and west again, with the nicest weather ever so far (by the way, did you ever get sun burnt at 12:00 at night? we did!). We crossed about 45 rivers, hiked in narrow valleys, crossed moraines, saw lots of flowers, birds and went for swimming in a 90% ice covered lake under the midnight sun...
Got some visitors from Austria later in July and hiked with them and the two crazy Greenland-dogs a few days a round trip close to Longyearbyen, having a good time and enjoyed to hear the Austrian accent...