Svalbard Expedition Live

Day 15

Our final day on our skis sees us camped in the valley just outside Longyearbyen.

A short 5km through the beautiful mountains of Adventdalen with a gentle snow falling.

We finish our expedition officially tomorrow when we arrive back in Longyearbyen.

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  0kph
Distance  5 km
Average Heart Rate Rich  bpm  Gareth  bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich    Gareth 
Bears 0

Day 14

The wind started to get up soon after dark making us worry we might be in for another sleepless battering but it soon died away to ethereal stillness and we slept well.

Clear skies and no wind saw us through the whole day.

Making our way down the stunning Adventdalen back towards civilisation, we were treated to views of mountain peaks, high glaciers and a friendly dog sled team heading the other way.

A relaxing distance allowed us to just enjoy being in this amazing place.

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  0kph
Distance  10.7 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 98bpm  Gareth 89bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich  3200  Gareth 3125
Bears 0

Day 13

A sleepless night last night as 90-100km/h winds pounded our tent.

Terrifying at times as the swirling wind slammed down on us from the mountains above the valley.

We were on emergency stations through the night as violent gusts uprooted pegs and tore open our snow flaps. 

We would dash outside into the driving wind and snow to secure the tent then scramble back inside.

Our trusty Hilleberg was just incredible in the face of such an onslaught. 

The winds must have been bad because all the snowmobile teams we met today asked how we survived the night!

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  0kph
Distance  12.8 km
Average Heart Rate Rich110bpm  Gareth 102bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich  4500  Gareth 4200
Bears 0

Day 12

What a day of contrasts!

Started the day with beautiful conditions – still, sunshine and finally back below freezing as is right and proper!

After yesterday’s warm temperatures though we weren’t surprised to find the tent frozen in solid to the snow!

A cheeky wee ptarmigan paid us a visit as we carefully hacked ourselves free of the ice and set off.

Conditions rapidly took a turn for the worst with howling winds bringing a wet sticky snow that froze onto our ski skins making it impossible to ski.

An emergency ski waxing stop helped a bit but we actually had to walk for a couple of kilometers before the freezing winds made the snow cold enough not to stick and we could get back to some proper skiing.

Gusting gales into the face and near zero visibility were the name of the game for the next few kilometers but as we neared the end of the day visibility has opened out and once again we’re surrounded by stunning mountain views.

A character-building day!

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  0kph
Distance  17.76 km
Average Heart Rate Rich112bpm  Gareth 102bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich  4234  Gareth 4126
Bears 0

Day 11

We woke to the patter of rain on our tent, a rather unexpected occurrence on a polar expedition.

After such a wonderful clear day yesterday, we were greeted this morning with moody skies, rain and a gusting south-easterly wind. 

Memories of our Iceland expedition flooded back.

Thankfully our Arc’teryx gear is so adaptable to a range of environments, high polar caps to wet valleys.

We explored the Fulmardalen valley to the base of the Marmorbreen glacier before making camp.

We will start our journey back to Longyearbyen tomorrow, temperatures are due to fall to the -20’s so we’re looking forward to more polar conditions to come.

 

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  0kph
Distance  13.2 km
Average Heart Rate Rich105bpm  Gareth 102bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich  4200  Gareth 4005
Bears 0

Day 10

An epic day today!

With mist clinging to the tops of the ice domes, we decided the time was right to head for the valleys and began our descent of the Rabotbreen glacier.

We knew it’d be a big day, at the snout of the glacier was a complex moraine field with an ice lake at its centre.  

On our way up a week ago, we’d managed to sneak up the side of the frozen lake but some parts had been pretty treacherous and we’d only just made it through.  

By luck, today was by far the warmest so far – a tropical zero degrees!  We couldn’t trust the ice so we’d have to find another way through.

We didn’t want to get caught in the moraine overnight, too high a chance of a bear stumbling upon us unexpectedly, so we knew we’d need to push through whatever we found. 

The weather smiled on us and we were treated to stunning views as we descended off the tops.  Sure enough, the ice lake looked decidedly dodgy so we had to find another way through.

We managed to pick up some snowmobile tracks and with some extreme effort a shire horse would be proud of, we hauled our sled up steep mounds of moraine, found a gully and made it through!

We’re now back nearly at sea level and have been treated to a white ptarmigan and some reindeer antlers!

Strong winds forecast overnight so we’re battering down again but really satisfied after a long day and enjoying our change in environment.

 

No Suunto stats today.

Suunto Stats

Average speed  skiing  2.8kph
Distance  21.55 km
Average Heart Rate Rich 111bpm  Gareth 106bpm
Height gained   m
Calories Rich  5023  Gareth 5104
Bears 0

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

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