Jose Mijares and dog Lonchas summited highest mountain on Svalbard

Posted: May 27, 2014 04:03 pm EDT

 

(By Correne Coetzer) José Mijares and his “loyal dog”, Lonchas did another expedition on Svalbard. This time they climbed the highest mountain on Svalbard, Mount Newton, 1713m. 

 

They started off from Longyearbyen, this biggest town on the Svalbard archipelago with a third team member, who was forced to abandoned the trip three days after the start. Jose and Lonchas carried on with all their food and equipment in their sleds; Jose pulling two sleds and Lonchas one. 

 

The weather during the 23 days out was a mixture of good and bad conditions, Jose, told ExplorersWeb. Temperatures ranged between -15ºC to -32ºC. Some days winds close to 100 km/h kept them tent bounded, "in fact during those days there was a rescue operation in the same area.” The two best friends summited Mt Newton on April 18, "on a beautiful cold and sunny day and had a great time together as usual.”

 

Permits

 

Permits and insurance are needed for a trip like this on Svalbard. "I traveled from 4/4 to 25/4 and applied for a permit at the Governor’s office. I also had to get insurance in case a rescue. Extra paper work was needed to bring Lonchas up there. But all these regulations in Svalbard are very easy and the Governor's office has pleasant people."

 

Lonchas

 

Lonchas is an Alaskan Malamute (pure bread), explains Jose. He is 5 years old and Jose has him since he was 4 months old. "He sleep in my room, we are 3...my wife, Lonchas and me, it's funny."

 

During the Svalbard expedition Lonchas pulled his own sled with his own food, booties and a warm dog jacket he uses at night, medical kit (1 kg), tools (1,5 kilos), spare parts and repair kit. “Also a pair of extra skis (that's the only of my personal items he carries). I always take two pairs of skis, since Lonchas carry them hahaha. His food consisted of Royal Canin high energy 4800 (700 g) plus 300 g of dog meat." 

 

"At the start Lonchas set off with one Paris pulk weighing 32/33 kilos. That is nothing for a 55 kilos Malamute, but I want to make him happy, not a slave.”

 

Jose pulled two Paris pulks, “because two Paris of 25 kilos slide better than one of 50, and you can organize your gear much better. in total, for 25 days, about 50 kilos for me.”

 

Last year Lonchas had feet problems. How did he do this year? “Wonderful, the problem last year was the sea ice and my ignorance about his needs, but I learned. When a dog has a problem, you must ask what the owner did wrong. I was the culprit last year."

 

Jose explained to ExWeb what has to be taken in consideration when taking a dog on expedition. "Not to meet any other dog. He is a big male and when I meet another males, there is a “war”. It's better to avoid if possible. It does not always end bad, but just in case." 

 

"And also about his feet, food and give enough care and love on the way; he is a companion and he has feelings. If there is a storm you must take him inside the tent for a few hours and make him to feel comfortable, then he can sleep outside." 

 

"Dogs sometimes get bored and don't want to walk or some days they do it with less energy. You have to check that, but most of the days he wants to run like crazy, happy, etc."

 

How do the two stay fit in between expeditions? "I live in Nordkapp, Norway, where we spend a lot of time outside like ski-sailing in the winter on the plateau (10 km from home) and I use my free time to do short trips here. Summer offers a lot of fields to walk, rivers to packraft or canoe, etc. We go out every day."

 

"Slow travel"

 

"I know the Svalbard trip is not a "big" expedition,” explained José to ExWeb, "but it is something nice close home (Nordkapp), something we can call "slow travel”, not because of the slow progress, but slow in order to talk about something back home. For me Svalbard is just a continuation of my dear home Lapland. I am exploring all possibilities around Lapland; that's great! There are enormous possibilities here, so I want to see it, and enjoy it."

 

This adventure was Jose's fifth time to Svalbard. “It is close home and I like it very much. It’s also a good place to enjoy the Arctic in the neighbourhood, easy for me to go there, and cheap compare to other Arctic expeditions.”

 

Records and for the love of adventure

 

Jose's expeditions/adventures are not about being the first or the fastest. ExWeb wants to know what is his goal, what he gets out of it, what is most important about his expeditions? "TO BE HAPPY, I love to be in nature. Adventure is my passion, not my job. I did some mountaineering guiding previously and now I give courses, but is not a full job anyway. I have been working as a tourist guide for many years (15) and now I own a tourist company. In my free time I travel and do adventure." 

 

"I have been backpacking around the world since I was 18. Some of my trips last more than 1 year; South America, South-east Asia, New Zealand, Africa… from climbing (I did 5 of the Seven Summits, 100 summits in Andes, most African mountains, etc) but just because mountaineering is very important for me, not because I want to finish this 7 Summits. I'm not interested at all). I did rivers by canoe or packraft, bike trips, most of the famous treks in the world, etc, etc. And since last 14 years I have been interested in Polar expeditions. But travel is my passion. Travel in general.”

 

"As I get older I also change my interest on my trips, I don't want to be anymore on a full moon party in Ko pan ghan (I did already twice). It was fun at twenties. I don't want to be in a crowded mountain or in a busy trek. Now I want to "explore" the area where I live, Lapland, or Svalbard. Patagonia is also a passion (I did 3 Northern Patagonia ice crossings with friends). If I meet a small number of people, or nobody, it's better."

 

"Now I do what I believe is the most honest trips, that means for me the trips you do for yourself, where you feel happy, and follow dreams but not for being famous or popular, that's a consequence of a good "job" but not a deal from the beginning. I don't want to live from a sponsor. It's not realistic anyway. If a sponsor helps me a little bit, it's great, but I don't waste my time asking desperate for money, no way." 

 

"Adventure is not Formula 1. I put those hours and energy in my own company and work, then I'm free and I can do what I really like. I don't have to go to a special place just to show or proof that I deserve to be sponsored, and if the price is not to get money for a North Pole trip, is ok. I can either pay myself or Í don't do it. There are hundreds of places to go instead. Let me give you an example, cross the White Sea in Winter. It is almost 600 km coast to coast in Russia. Do it without permit, maybe it's harder than a North Pole expedition. Yes, maybe now somebody is checking a map, great!!!!  We must use our imagination and plan those wonderful trips, and do it. Everybody knows where Everest is situated, but what about the White Sea? That's an example. Maybe you are a first expedition if you do it. I did something similar on Baltic Sea on Winter (Oulu to Pitea) and it was wonderful and truly adventure.”

 

Other adventurers

 

"Have a look of what Luc Mehl/ Roman Dial does in Alaska, Pablo Besser/Camilo Rada, Jarek Wieczorek in Patagonia. Lars Monssen in Lappland. Jane Corax, Martin Adserballe in Tibet, Elin Engerstrom in Svalbard.  Amazing trips, using a lot of time to study maps, drawing routes, spending little money, spending a lot of time on these trips, always on the run. Maybe they break records, but I don't think it was the main purpose of these trips. That's my inspiration, that's what I "try" to do with my life and trips.”

 

"I don't really understand what records means actually, and why people embark on ridiculous trips sometimes, for a record? Why? So I run away from records that means anything on those days. At least if it is a record come, it is just a coincidence. I'm not sure if I explain myself, but when Alexander Gamme set a record, what I see is a beautiful trip, and a great man, who waited for his "competitors" to join the end together. That a different record, you know what a mean?"

 

"Audun Tholfsen and Timo Palo did a record expedition when they skied and kayaked from the North pole to Svalbard. I have met Audun in Svalbard, he is a great man. But do you think they did that trip for a record? No way. His Facebook page has around 200 likes, it's so funny, they don't care. They did the expedition because they like it. That's what I try to do with my life and trips.”

 

Previous/Related

 

Jose Mijares and dog, Lonchas: best friends on Spitsbergen

 

Across the Arctic blue night: Trans-Lapland expedition debrief

 

Debrief: José Mijares and Hilo Morenos Svalbard expedition

 

José Mijares pages:

 

Website

Personal Facebook 

Artico Ice Bar Facebook

 

 

#polar #josemijares #svalbard

 

 

 

 

 

Jose Mijares and Lonchas on top of Mt Newton's summit, 1713 m, Svalbard April 2014.
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE
"At the start Lonchas set off with 1 Paris pulk weighing 32/33 kilos. That is nothing for a 55 kilos Malamute, but I want to make him happy, not a slave."
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE
"Dogs sometimes get bored and don't want to walk or some days they do it with less energy. You have to check that, but most of the days he wants to run like crazy."
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE
"I applied for a permit at the Governor's office. I also had to get insurance in case a rescue. Extra paper work is needed to bring Lonchas up there."
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE
"I know the Svalbard trip is not a "big" expedition," explained Jose to ExWeb, "but it is something nice close home (Nordkapp, Norway), something we can call "slow travel", not because of the slow progress, but slow in order to talk about something back home."
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE
"If there is a storm you must take the dog inside the tent for a few hours and make him to feel comfortable, then he can sleep outside."
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE
Jose Mijares and Lonchas back in Longyearbyen after 24 days travel.
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE
"Svalbard is close home and I like it very much. It's also a good place to enjoy the Arctic in the neighbourhood, easy for me to go there, and cheap compare other Arctic expeditions."
courtesy Jose Mijares / Cesar Sainz, SOURCE
350 km return journey route from Longyearbyen to Mt. Newton and back (click to enlarge).
courtesy Jose Mijares, SOURCE