Last couple of days I have been hiking around Longyearbyen. Always carrying a flare gun for protection, but (un)fortunately no polar bears in sight. The first hike was up to the mountain just on top of the village, a beautiful hike even though it was really steep and quite icy – coming down was really exciting and better executed sitting than trying to walk.
On the first top Sophie, my forced guide for the day (she had a real gun and could not leave me to the bears), showed me a visitors book, and if you signed it one might win prices depending on how many peaks you hiked to. A cool little stool just on the edge was a great place for a picture and the view of the valley was astounding. We hiked on over the plateau and came over some raindeers and further on we watched a great school of white whales outside the airport (it may have been waves crashing, but I prefer the whales). We walked as far as we could since I wanted to get a view over the larger bay where we were going to the glacier a couple of days later. On the other side we could see the ice still covering large parts of the ocean.
The second hike I made together with my friends Peter and Emma on cross country skis. We hiked up Longyearbyenbreen (breen = glacier) and over the Sarkofagen mountain (steep up) down to Larsbreen (not even a slope down). A beautiful day like this with -6C and no wind it was a great hike. But the wind picked up and warm fingers can get cold real fast here, something about the humidity makes the chill factor greater I guess, and by the time we got our gear ready to go into the goal of the day, an ice cave in the Larsbreen glacier, Emma and me could hardly feel our fingers anymore.
The ice cave is made by melting water finding its way through cracks in the glacier and consist of smooth ice and smaller rocks. First you have to take a ladder about 5 meters straight down a hole just the size of a person. When you come down there are two routes, one narrower than the second, but crawlable before it opens up and a person can easily walk, although carefully to avoid slipping.
We spent half an hour in the cave, not too sure where to go and without a guide it felt comfortable to stay where the cave was quite level and walkable. The fact tha I forgot my head torch and Emma’s was out of batteries, did not help either. Thank appmakers for torch apps. On our way down to Longyearbyen we met: first a solo skier walking up on skins, then a group of girls equipped with ropes and climbing equipment going to try and find the bottom entrance to the cave – from the inside. They guessed they had to do some digging! The last persons we met was a guy in t-shirt carrying a rifle and his companion in clothes and with a back pack. The cool guys where a t-shirt in minus 10 C and a chillfactor from the wind of about 15 C. I guess I am just not that cool.