(Newsdesk) There's still chance to get chunks of this planet all to yourself for a while. This trio got to the remote and rarely visited part of Svalbard by boat, and explored it with a variety of Arctic wildlife around.
Norwegian Polar explorer, Børge Ousland, shot over some news and photos about his recent expedition to North East Land on Svalbard. His two team mates on the 200 km trip was Vincent Colliard, who joined him on the Northwest Passage expedition in 2010 and a friend from Norway, Anne Holmberg.
North East Land is two large glaciers in a remote and little visited part of the Svalbard archipelago, says Børge. “It was relatively smooth going, a few crevasses and a bit carrying between the glaciers, but apart from that just nice great skiing.”
Start and temperatures
To get to the start point the team joined an 80-foot boat from Longyearbyen that was going there with wildlife photographers, and they agreed to drop them off at Cape Laura on the east side, says Børge.
“North East Land is a national park and you need special permission to do trips there. There is only a few places where it is possible to land on the east side of North East Land due to the glacier front going all the way to the sea.”
“It was a small carry onto the ice and at the start quite slushy on the ice because of the melting, but when we reached 2-300 meters altitude, skiing and conditions became good.”
“It was great to do such a summer trip. Not cold, mostly plus degrees. We had a couple of days below zero with some nice snowdrift and a beautiful sky,” says Ousland.
Polar bears and water
Total distance is about 200 km, he says, and of that about 10 km was a carry. “We had to cross a stretch between the two glaciers, and also a river. But no problems with that.”
The trio didn’t see polar bears but lots of tracks, “12 in all, most of them on the glacier itself, strangely enough.”
“But the sea-ice is disappearing north” says Ousland, “and polar bears walk great distances to try to reach drifting ice.”
Regarding other animals, they saw some reindeer in the valleys, and quite a lot of walruses on the beach.
Børge described the ice conditions, “Glacier was smooth, a few crevasses, but nothing difficult, also a couple of glacier rivers to cross; so we needed our crampons and rope.”
The team ended up on the west side in Hinlopen Strait, (Kalkstranda), where they were supposed to get picked up in a week’s time. “We used only ten days to get across, but brought food for 20; so we had food enough to wait for the sailboat that was going to pick us up in a week’s time.”
“But due to the long wait I asked my wife to check for other boats, and there was a cruise ship in the area that agreed to pick us up; The Ortelius from Ocean Wide Expeditions. So just a few hours after we reached the beach we saw the ship in the horizon, lit a big fire, and they came with a zodiac and picked us up.”
“The ship was not going to Longyearbyen, but to Kirkenes in Norway, via Bear Island, so we actually ended up back in Norway on this ship, and another great adventure was finished.”
Ousland says this is a trip they would like to repeat next year. Anyone interested to join can contact him here.
In 1994 Børge Ousland became the first person to ski solo from land to the North Pole. He did a kite-ski traverse of the Arctic Ocean from Russia to Canada via the North Pole as well as a kite-ski traverse of Antarctica, from Berkner Island to McMurdo. In 2006 Ousland and Mike Horn attempted the North Pole in Winter, unassisted, unsupported, starting January 22, 2006 and arrived at the North Pole March 23, only two days after sunrise. Other expeditions by Børge are ski expeditions on the Southern and Northern Patagonia Icecaps and Frans Josef Land , as well as a sail expedition around the Arctic Circle.
North Pole skiers/kayakers, Timo Palo and Audun Tholfsen’s food cache on North East Land
Borge Ousland married at the North Pole
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