Day 9

Very strong south-westerly winds and white out conditions have kept us pinned down in the tent today.

Navigation here in these conditions is very difficult with steep cliffs and crevasses hidden in the gloom, so we’ve stayed in the safety of our Hilleberg home.

Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get out and explore some nearby glaciers, if not then we will head down the Rabotbreen glacier to Sassendalen fjord on our route back to Longyearbyen.  We’ve had a couple of truly stunning days and hope for more to come.

No Suunto stats today. 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  0kph
Distance  0 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 0bpm  Gareth 0bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich   Gareth  
Bears 0

Day 8

Clear skies again this morning as we retraced our steps down the Phillipbreen glacier.

Reports of strong winds and snow have made us reassess our route across the high ice caps, instead, we will head to lower ground and explore the fjords on our route back to Longyearbyen.

Clear weather and light winds stayed with us all day and the Arctic sun sat low in the sky as we skied through a sea of white surrounded by snowy peaks and glaciers falling away towards the sea.

Our final climb of the day led to the most spectacular views across Spitsbergen. 

Very strong winds are forecast for tonight (80kph) so we’ve found a safe spot, double-poled our tent and dug in!

Good job we’ve got the world’s best polar tent!

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  3.5 kph
Distance  16 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 121bpm  Gareth 104bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich 4362  Gareth  4250
Bears 0

Day 7

We woke to an eerie silence in a still and hard frozen world.

Gone was the frantic flapping of the tent fabric and the howl of the wind of yesterday.  Today not a breath of air stirred.

Temperatures had dropped sharply, testified to by the frozen breath around our sleeping bags. 

A beautiful Arctic day!

We spent the first couple of hours taking some great photos and enjoying views stretching tens of kilometres out to the frozen fjords and mountains to the east.

Much better skiing conditions today, the snow having been blown into hard, packed ridges and sculptures that supported our weight well.

We passed the fresh tracks of an Arctic Fox and we were treated to the spectacular sight of a glorious parhelion – like a guiding star ahead of us most of the day.

A short day’s skiing today.  Strong winds forecast for tonight and we don’t want to camp on the Phillipbreen glacier with its reputation for burying tents in the snow, so we’ve made camp at its northern entrance, ready to descent tomorrow.

One of those days that reminds us why we’re entranced with the Arctic!

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  2 kph
Distance  9 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 118bpm  Gareth 104bpm
Height gained  93 m
Calories Rich 3145  Gareth  3200
Bears 0

Day 6

A sleepless night as a strong northwesterly wind came up and battered our tent high on the Filchnerfonna ice cap.

Strong gusts almost flattened our tent, thankfully we were dug in well and set up for the storm.

Our Hilleberg Keron 4 GT has been truly outstanding and has filled us with confidence for the epic Antarctic winds we are yet to face.

We’ve spent the day in our tent as the winds rattled on, not wanting to risk a move in these conditions.

It’s getting towards evening now and the wind is settling slightly.  We’re looking forward to getting back out on our skis tomorrow.  

The temperatures have dropped significantly this afternoon as the sun dipped below the horizon, it feels like at least -20.

We’re in good spirits and going well.

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  0 kph
Distance  0 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 0 bpm  Gareth 0 bpm
Height gained  0 m
Calories Rich 0  Gareth  0
Bears 0

Day 5

A night of listening to the fresh snow gently falling onto the tent with the periodic whooshing of it slipping off, set the scene for today…knee deep fresh powder!

A downhill skier’s dream but a sled-dragger’s nightmare!

Pulling 90kg sleds uphill in powder snow was incredibly difficult.

Luckily the cloud quickly descended onto the ice and the total white-out distracted us from the burning in our legs.  This was gifted with the incredibly challenging navigation across the featureless Filchner Fonna ice dome!

Many hours spent staring at compasses and GPS see us at the end of a very challenging day but we’re warm and cosy in our tent with a cuppa soup in our hands.

We’re looking forward to the view when the cloud finally lifts.

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  1.7kph
Distance 11.12 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 108bpm  Gareth 111bpm
Height gained 162 m
Calories Rich 4128   Gareth  4207
Bears 0

Day 4

We woke to driving snow and a white out, terrible conditions for navigating but Rich did an outstanding job.  He threaded our route expertly between two Nunatuks and we emerged into an icy amphitheatre just as the cloud lifted.

We found ourselves surrounded on all sides by snowy peaks and to our west a view of the sea.

Our route then took us up the Phillipbreen glacier and we spent a tough afternoon slogging uphill in deep snow.  Our distances are shorter than we had hoped, only 15km today but route finding and the conditions are slowing us down.  

We’re going well and so happy to be exploring this incredible place.

Major bonus this afternoon too!

We bumped into a team on skidoos and they gave us a chocolate bar each.  I think they felt sorry for us!

 

Suunto Stats

Duration skiing  hours
Distance 15 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 111bpm  Gareth 114bpm
Height gained 400 m
Calories Rich 4328   Gareth  4216
Bears 0