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North America, Arctic, Svalbard

Svalbard. In the early weeks of April, Steve Trafton, Frank Baird, Sam Gardner, John Mason and I visited the remote ranges of Svalbard (Spitsbergen) in the Norwegian High Arctic, and archipelago which lies between the latitudes of 76° and 81° N. We traveled from Oslo to Tromsö on Norway’s northern coast and flew to Longbyearbyen on Svalbard’s main island. After a fierce three-day storm, we were flown by ski-plane into the beautiful, heavily glaciated interior. From an initial camp at Kongspasset on the Sveabreen, we completed a ski ascent of Vegvaktaren, as well as climbs of Kongsfjella and Farwoodtoppen. From this camp we pulled sleds across the upper Hamarbreen, followed by a descent via Palassfonna to the north end of Palasset Peak at Kronepasset. We completed a climb up the middle of the Tre Kroner Peaks (the “Nora” summit) before being pinned down for two days by strong winds. We crossed the Dronningpasset to descend the Kongsvegen Glacier to the Kongsfjorden. This frozen fjord was used to reach the tiny settlement of Ny Alesund, where a bush pilot picked us up.

Allan R. Errington