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Day 3 |
Jun 19, 2009

14 July Glacier, Svalbard

By Robin West, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 79° 07.500’N , 011°52.351’E

Weather: Overcast

Air Temperature: 6C

Wind: None

This morning we sailed into Kongsfjorden, with the surrounding country it is known to be one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Svalbard. In this area we find the former mining settlement of Ny-Ålesund, today an international centre for research, with a picturesque mix of old and new buildings. The islands and islets in the inner part of Kongsfjorden teem with birds. At the head of the fjord, mighty glaciers calve into the sea. All of this is framed by characteristic mountain formations.

The weather was perfect, with not a breath of wind as we sailed closer to our morning landing, 14th July Glacier. Upon arrival, the Zodiacs were lowered and the two scout boats were sent ashore to scout for polar bears. Word came back from the scout boat that the area was clear and that it was time to start with disembarkation. This morning we had a wet landing onto a stony beach at the base of a steep mountain ridge that rises from sea level to a height of almost 1000 m, the Casimir-Périerkammen.

Immediately on arrival you could clearly see the cliff faces teeming with bird life. Fulmars, kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots were the dominating species. A considerable number of Atlantic puffins and black guillemots were also found. Pink-footed geese were nesting on the slopes beneath the bird cliffs and outwards on the beach ridge towards the point of Redingerpynten. Robin Aiello was positioned at the foot of the bird cliffs and was a wealth of knowledge as she pointed out and explained the various birds that we were all looking at. It was great to have someone with her knowledge to help bring the area to life.

Heading completely in the opposite direction was our resident geologist Juan Carlos Restrepo. Many of the guests joined Juan on the geology walk as he slowly made his way over to the 14th July Glacier. Along the way Juan pointed out that we were walking in the path of where the glacier had been many decades ago and explained how various geological clues pointed to this. The most common being the great variety of rocks that had no similarity to the ones forming the mountains around us, indicating that the glacier had brought them from far away and had deposited them on the beach area as the glacier receded over the years. When reaching the face of the glacier, we were in for a real experience as we were given the opportunity to climb on top of the glacier. This was a unique experience and a first for many of us. It was hard going getting to the top, but well worth the effort. It was an incredible experience and many of us were speechless and just stood in silence as we absorbed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

The morning flew by, and before we knew, it was time to return to the ship. The Expedition Leader Conrad made a good decision and extended the time ashore, this really made a huge difference and was appreciated by all. Once back on the ship, we set sail for our afternoon destination.

On the south side of the fjord of Kongsfjorden lies the unique cultural heritage site of London, also called Ny-London. This is the remains of the mining facility established in 1911 by the Northern Exploration Company, an English company headed by Ernest Mansfield. At London, marble was extracted for a limited time at the start of the 20th century.

The afternoon stop was one of historical importance and gave us the opportunity to explore an old mining town. Upon arrival, our bear guides spotted a polar bear track. This changed the afternoon plans and instead of being able to explore on our own, we had to stay in groups under the watchful eye of both our bear guides and some of the expedition staff, who had also been added to bear watch patrol.

von Stefan Kredel, Geologe

Koordinaten: 79°07.500’N, 011°52.351’O
Wetter: bewolkt
Luft Temperatur: 6C
Wind: kein wind

Es lohnte sich schon früh an Deck zu sein, um die Einfahrt in den Krossfjord zu verfolgen. Der Wettergott ist wieder sehr gnädig mit uns, fast kein Wind. Unser morgendliches Ziel ist der Gletscher „14. Juli“, den Franzosen zu Ehren so benannt. Vom Schiff aus sehen wir schon eine beeindruckende Fjordlandschaft, inklusive einer großen Gletscherfront, die bis ins Wasser langt. Im dem trüben Wasser treiben ein paar Eisstücke des Gletschers herum. Auf einem liegt eine Bartrobbe.

An Land haben wir 2 Möglichkeiten. Wir können von der Landestelle nach links gehen, wo in den steilen Felswänden abertausende von Seevögeln nisten. Aber auch in die andere Richtung lohnt sich der etwas längere Weg. Es geht entlang des Strandes bis zum Fuße des Gletschers. Hier gehen wir über kleinere Schneefelder an der Seite des Gletschers nach oben. Nach etwa 100 Höhenmetern sind wir auf einem kleinem Plateau angekommen, von wo wir einen herrlichen Blick über die Gletscherfront und auch über die den Fjord haben. Wir stehen auf einer Seitenmoräne, die auf dem Gletscher zum Liegen kam, stehen also zwar auf Schuttmaterial, aber auch auf dem Gletscher. Ein Kalben bleibt uns zwar verwehrt, aber beeindruckend war es doch alle mal.

Zurück an Bord verholt das Schiff über Mittag nach Blomstrand Halve, was nichts mit einem Blumenstrand zutun hat, sondern nach einem schwedischen Chemiker benannt ist. Der Ort, wo wir anlanden, heißt Ny London und war Anfang des letzten Jahrhunderts der Versuch eines Marmorbruches. Allerdings stellte sich bald heraus, dass die Qualität des Marmors zu schlecht war. Da frische(re?) Eisbärenspuren gesehen werden, wollen unsere Eisbärenwächter, dass wir nur in geführten Gruppen durch das Gelände gehen.

Bevor es zurück an Bord geht, wird noch die Möglichkeit eines arktischen Bades gegeben. Allerdings machen nur 2 Gäste davon gebrauch (wenn man einmal von einem einzelnen rechten Fuß absieht …).

Wie üblich gibt es vor dem Abendessen noch ein Recap, in dem erlebtes rekapituliert wird und Geplantes besprochen wird.

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