Tag Archives: NorthernLights

Svalbard Part 3: In search of Sun

The Sun has been absent since I’ve arrived here in Longyearbyen. The islands are deep inside the Arctic Circle; the line of latitude north of which it is possible to have 24 hour nights in winter. But Spring is fast approaching.

When a ray of sunlight was spotted hitting the mountain tops on the other side of the fjord, it was decided that a group of us would aim to get as much elevation as possible over the weekend, and try to catch some elusive light. Temperatures would remain well below -20°C over the two days, so warm clothes and moving fast would be essential.

Saturday morning saw us hiking up to Sverdruphamaren; an elevated plateau to the west of Longyearbyen. There is a real sense of wilderness here, and the view is an expanse of white peaks, sea ice, and reindeer. The sun however, remained just below the higher mountains to the south.

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Setting out from Longyearbyen on Saturday morning

 

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Ice mascara

 

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The Svalbard Cold Feet Dance

 

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Some opted just to get their feet off the ground altogether.

 

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Chasing the sun across Svalbard’s wilderness

 

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Returning back across the plateau after a cold but beautiful day

 

On Sunday morning, we aimed higher, and set out for Trollsteinen; the peak behind which the Sun had hidden from us the previous day. With temperatures at sea level forecast to be around -30°C, we knew we were in for a cold summit. Our route would bring us south of Longyearbyen, up the glacier of Larsbreen, before ascending onto the main ridge of the mountain. The winds were calm, and the skies were perfectly clear, promising excellent views, and potentially some vitamin D.

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Heading south, with Longyearbyen in the distance

 

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Lone hiker on Larsbreen

 

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Beginning to ascend towards the ridge

 

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The Sun! The end of polar night, as viewed from the main ridge of Trollsteinen

 

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The Sun is literally days away from reappearing here in the valley, and the community of Longyearbyen will mark its return this weekend with a festival in its honour. It’s certainly something worth celebrating, but I’ll still be happy to experience a few more Svalbard nights.

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The Aurora over Longyearbyen