lørdag 10. april 2010

Giving the "Newtontoppen-expiditon" a lift

Some of my friends up here had one thing planned for the Easter Holiday: a 10 days skiing trip to Newtontoppen, the highest mountain on Svalbard. Their plan was to get scooters to drive them out to Nordenskjoldbreen glacier, and from there they would skii to Newtontoppen and then ski all the way back to Longyearbreen. A group of 6 people need at least 6 scooters to get out, and more people to get the scooters back to the town. I told them that I could drive 1 on my scooter, so I joined the trip. Driving to Nordenskjoldbreen takes about 4-5 hours, and with all the equipment, sledges and pulkas we brought, I was really hoping that nothing would go wrong! At least not with the scooters or sledges!

We were getting ready at 6 in the morning, hoping to leave at 7. When we were on or way out of town, one of the sledges broke down! It couldn`t take the weight of all the jerrycans with fuel we brought... Luckily, we were still in town, and it was not difficult to get the sledge back, find a new one (which is always a problem), rearrange some weight, and get going. Not the best way to start the trip, but definitely the best place to get a problem!

But after that, we had no problems! It was a great trip in gorgeous weather! We had several stops on the way, to make sure all the straps around the sledges were still tight, and that we did not loose anything. We went trough Adventdalen valley and Sassendalen valley, to Fredheim, and over Tempelfjorden. It was really cool to finally see the wooden ship being stuck in the ice in Tempelfjorden! Then we went over several glaciers and in several valleys, before we got to Nordenskjoldbreen glacier. It was an amazing trip, the mountains were so cool, making insane formations, making it a little bit tricky some places to drive, but it was awesome! When we arrived the Nordenskjoldbreen, only a few of us drove up it, making sure that the "expedition crew" where dropped at the right spot. It was a little bit sad to say goodbye to my friends there, after all I would not see them for most of my Holiday, and I was jsut hoping that they would not get any trouble! Of course they had all the equipment they needed, including avalanche gear, glacier-resque gear, emergency beacon,first aid kit, rifles, flareguns, tripwire, and spare parts. And Sysselmannen (the Governor of Svalbard) knew their plans and list of equipment. But still I was a little bit worried. It was really windy up on the glacier, but their plan for the first day was basically to but up the basecamp, and get ready for the next day.

Since we were so close to Pyramiden, an abandoned Russian settlement, we decided to stop by there before we went home again. We drove down Nordenskjoldbreen to the Billefjorden, which we had to cross. It was so cool to watch how the glacier met the seawater, it was really impressive formations! I have never seen a glacier with the blue color like this one, and huge cracks! It was truly a mighty impression!

A lot of seals were lying on top of the ice-covered fjord, enjoying the sun! Hehe, it was really funny to watch the cute, fat seals watching us before they dived into the water, and then peeking up again to see if we left =D Halfway over the fjord, we got some extreme sideways wind! We had to drive so fast, and completely lean on one side of the scooter so we wouldn´t be pushed sideways by the wind! Everyone arrived safe on the other side of the fjord =)

Pyramiden was really cool, I´ve never seen anything like it! Hehe, but it was not totally abandoned either =P There are now a few Russians here who are trying to fix the old hotel, and clean the town, they want to try to attract tourism. So after driving around town, taking pictures, we discovered that the bar in the hotel was open, and we went to eat there and rest a little =) We ment some guys there that had been skiing all the way from Longyearbyen, and we asked them if they had a though time over the fjord. "The first 2 hours wasn`t that bad, but the last 2 was hell!" (Our trip on scooter lasted about 15-20 minutes....)

Two of the students joining us on our trip were Russian, which helped a lot since the Russians in Pyramiden did not speak English... Our friends ordered some food for us, and seemed really happy about the Russian meal we got =) Soon after we ate we got ready to start our trip back, and luckily we had no problems. Other than one of the scooters using a lot of fuel, so I had to donate 1 of my jerrycans to it, but all in all we had enough fuel to come home again. It was really an amazing trip, I am so glad I got to join it! We had left around 7 in the morning, and we arrived Longyearbyen 8.15 in the evening, having spent about 11 hours on scooter that day! We were all pretty dead when we came home, and fell a sleep before our head hit the pillow. But surely, it was a terrific day!

Now I was looking forward to get a visit form my boyfriend, who arrived the day after! =D

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