Svalbard 2011

Projet Polaria 1 | Du 14/07/2011 au 11/08/2011 (29 jours)

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Arctic is the King. Rude and wonderful, fascinating and terrifying. Able to turn, in just a second, the mildest of heaven into hell, and worst of hell into paradise. Arctic is the King, and us, so little facing the nature. More than elsewhere, we must accept that we have neither our place nor our say. We are just tolerated, subject to the rigors and vagaries of a hostile nature… It sometimes seems frustrating. It sometimes hurt, and even much more… And worse. But it's a chance, an experience I'd like to live again.

So, what can I say? … It's still difficult to find the correct words. So much beauty, wild and fragile … So many times, soft and hard …. So many memories, luminous… Someone said that a trip in Svalbard cannot be told, but have to be lived. I think it's true.

14/07/2011 | Grenoble - Paris

  • The weather was quite bad for a 14th of July.
  • It could have thought it was a bad sign.
  • But I thought instead: “<i>Great, Mr weather is preparing me for Norway and Spitzbergen!</i>”
  • Charlotte was sad to se me leave… But, as I knew I would come back, I wasn't sad myself.
  • Few people in the train, but many bags.
  • Then I arrived in Paris, and spent an very (very) active afternoon with Loïc… Laying on the sofa, watchting the Tour de France…
  • A last drink with Sophie.
  • And it was time to go to sleep. My last night for 4 weeks…

15/07/2011 | Paris - Oslo Gardermoen Airport - Tromsø

  • If you know a few about Lene Marlin, you'll certainly appreciate the name given to this day.
  • I woke up carefully to avoid waking up Loïc…
  • … But it didn't work as I excepted it to work (i.e. Loïc woke up too).
  • I took my breakfast in the suburban train.
  • Then, began the long waiting day… I waited in CDG Airport, I waited in the plane, I waited in Oslo Airport, then I waited again in the plane…
  • Some hours after, I finally reached Tromsø.
  • Home sweet home.
  • As everything was ready, I could took some rest, before to really begin the adventure…

16/07/2011 | Tromsø - Harstad - Sortland - Stø - Nyksund

  • The sun was shining for this first morning in Norway.
  • As I knew I didn't know when my next shower would be, I enjoyed this one.
  • Then, I took the express boat to Harstad.
  • Everything was so well planed, that it was almost too easy!
  • When I arrived in Stø, it began to rain…
  • … I, nevertheless, began to walk.
  • The hike was supposed to be easy, but, with my so heavy bag, I didn't find it so…
  • Step after step, I reached Nyksund, without having found a great place to sleep.
  • I finally found a great field in front of the sea.
  • I drank and eat.
  • Then went to sleep.
  • I was cold and felt alone… Well, I was just a bit tired…

17/07/2011 | Nyksund - Stø

  • The sun has woken me up, and everything has suddendly become easy…
  • 2:30 in the morning. The sun, the sea. A dream…
  • The morning, I first search for some water.
  • Then began to hike to Stø, not through the shore line, but through the moutain path.
  • It was quite difficult with my home on my back!
  • Nobody on the road…
  • Nobody neither on the beach I slept-on!

18/07/2011 | Stø - Sortland - Hennes

  • Midnight facing the sun…
  • A peaceful moment before to fall in the depth of sleep.
  • The morning after, from one end of the road to another, I left Stø to Hennes.
  • Event if I can't say Hennes is the most beautiful place I've ever seen, I felt so calm there, that I said mylself I would certainly choose this way of life one day.

19/07/2011 | Hennes - Møysalen

  • I woke up hearing to the sound of the rain.
  • I was scared the weather was too bad to climb to Møysalen.
  • But, hopefuly, we left!
  • The hike began under the rain.
  • Then, we had fog.
  • Then, a lot of wind.
  • We weren't sure we could reach the top…
  • … But, slowly, the sky became blue.
  • And we were able to finish the hike!
  • Møysalen, 1262 moh.
  • Wonderful & awesome!
  • Back to the campsite, I noticed somthing strange with my tent…
  • … Actually, on of the hoops was broken!
  • I could have panicked, got angry or scared…
  • … But I said myself I'd better have a good meal first.
  • Then, I looked for a solution to my problem.
  • Of course, I didn't have to appropriate tool, so it failed.
  • I could have panicked again, got angry again or scared again…
  • … But I said myself I'd better have a good night first.
  • Thus, I went to sleep…

20/07/2011 | Hennes - Sortland - Risøyhamn - Bleik

  • Transit day under a dark sky.
  • I started the “Mac Gyver Operation” to fix my tent.
  • You'll find the result in the Goodies section.
  • When in Bleik, I was too tired to hike to Stave.
  • So, I decided to camp in Bleik's campsite.
  • Wild beach, white sand, and the ocean.
  • The light was wonderful (= I took a lot of pictures).

21/07/2011 | Bleik - Stave

  • After a long and good night, I felt OK to reach Stave from Bleik.
  • At first, everything was perfect.
  • But, the more I walked, the more I found it was difficult to see and follow the marks…
  • … Until I couldn't see it anymore.
  • I stopped.
  • Have a look to the right. Have a look to the left.
  • Then I realize I was lost.
  • I decided to follow my instinct, in walked straight in the middle of nowhere.
  • … It wasn't definitely the shortest way.
  • But, the most important is I finally managed to reach Stave.
  • How hungry I was!!!
  • As the weather conditions weren't ideal, and as I was a bit tired, I decided not to go back to Bleik by foot.
  • I began to wait for the bus, but quickly was fed-up with it.
  • So, I decided to inch hike… And Grand'ma mamie Olga (almost 107 years old) caught me.
  • A (very) brief discussion in norwegian later, I was proud to be able to tell and understand some words!!!

22/07/2011 | Bleik - Andenes - Gryllefjord - Torsken - Finnsnes - Tromsø

  • In every trip, you normally have the “chance” to experiment (at least) ONE very bad day…
  • This is the day!
  • Everything began by an uncomfortable tent-packing under rain and wind, after a too short night.
  • I suffered headache and sore throat, and my entire body felt tired, tired, tired…
  • The 8:55 to Andenes didn't linked with the 9 o'clock ferry to Gryllefjord… So, I had to run with the 20 kilos on my back to catch it (… it left approximately 30 seconds after I got in).
  • So, I arrived in Gryllefjord, were the bus (actually, the only bus of the day… I learned it after) was scheduled BEFORE the ferry accost… So logical…
  • Hopefully, the Tourist Information gave me precious piece of information: “<i>Of course, you can go to Mefjorvaer: you just have to take the 17:30 bus to Finnsness</i>”… But forgot to mention that the bus stop was in Torsken, 7 kilometers away!!!
  • Hopefully again, I realized it before 17:30, so giving me enough time to reach Torsken.
  • I first tried to get there by foot. But, I quickly realize it was defintely not a good idea (regarding my tiredness and the climbing road).
  • So, I decided to wait for the next ferry to inch hike.
  • And if you don't understand why I had to wait for the next ferry to inch hike, it's because you've never been to Gryllefjord. End of the road, end of the world: nobody driving on the road unless a ferry has arrived!!!
  • So I waited.
  • A bit.
  • A lot.
  • So much that I had time to prepare a great sign, with my two possible destinations: Torsken or Mefjordvaer.
  • Of course, when the ferry arrived, nobody caught me… !!!
  • So, the only way to reach Torsken was to walk.
  • Half the way, I had the chance to get picked by a nice Norvegian.
  • Then, in Torksen, I had to wait for the bus… Under the rain, of course.
  • I decided to sleep in Finnsnes, cause it was too complicated to reach Mefjordvaer…
  • But, I finally stopped in Tromsø !!! …
  • … Where, after 5 last kilometers walking, I put my tent on the top of Fjellheisen.
  • Paradise after hell.

23/07/2011 | Tromsø

  • Back to Tromsø.
  • After a great night and a great shower, I went to the Polarmuseet.
  • Artic story.
  • Damned, the building was so hot! I couldn't stay inside.
  • Far away from the crowdy downtown, I took time to walk in sleeping districts.

24/07/2011 | Tromsø

  • Visiting Tromsø without going to Polaria, is as strange as visiting Paris without going to the Eiffel Tower.
  • It was nearly the same than last year, but with many (many) more people.
  • When I got fed-up with tourists, I decided to have a breath in Prestvannet.
  • Lake, birds, calm, and only norvegian people.
  • To end up with this day, an almost midnight sun on the Ishavskatedralen.

25/07/2011 | Tromsø

  • This was a long rainy day.
  • Heavy rain.
  • Just on time to let me wash my clothes.
  • Just on time to charge my batteries.

26/07/2011 | Tromsø - Longyearbyen

  • I opened my eyes on a very special day.
  • The sun was shining, a chance to dry my tent.
  • Then, I reached the airport.
  • Some great remembers, walikng in the terminal (Cf. Norway 2010).
  • When boarding time arrived, I felt as happy as the happiest man in the World.
  • After an half an hour flight, Spitzbergen reached from the sea.
  • So wonderfull…
  • I realized I had the chance to live one of my dreams, something I was preparing for one entire year.
  • While landing, I was amazed by the ice on the Adventfjorden…
  • At this time, I hadn't realized yet that those ice conditions would be a “little” troublesome for the rest of the trip.

27/07/2011 | Longyearbyen

  • Longyearbyen Camping is really cheaper than a hotel.
  • But, it has a major disadvantage: it's 5 kilometers away from “down-town”
  • Considering I went forth and back twice, you might realize how walking was pre-eminent for me this day.
  • Hopefully, I also did some dogsledding… on wheels!
  • You'll see, in the the trips to come, that it wasn't an accident if decided to do so.
  • A really fun moment…

28/07/2011 | Longyearbyen

  • Last day on my own.
  • I decided to go hiking on a glacier…. With a guide and a gun, of course.
  • It was nice, even if we didn't see anything because of the fog.
  • Then, time for a great meal with GNGL team.
  • And time had come to wait for my trip-mates.
  • … To be continued …

29/07/2011 | Longyearbyen - Pyramiden

  • … Let's continue…
  • When all of us were arrived, we went on a short brieffing.
  • Too much ice in Kongsfjorden to get there.
  • It's unusual. Those conditions happen maybe every ten years…
  • Arctic is the king.
  • So, we had to change all of our plans.
  • As compensation, we had a spectacular midnight sun.
  • Mist, yachts and ice.
  • After a short “night”, time had come to get-up for a very (very) long day.
  • We were 10 minutes late to see the Polar Bear walking next to the campsite.
  • So, no picture to show.
  • Then, we had to prepare and load the stuff for the trip.
  • Niklas the sailor, sailed bravely through the ice, and left-us in Pyramiden.
  • Walking in this almost abandonned town was a strange sensation.
  • Go, midnight!!!

30/07/2011 | Pyramiden - Billefjord - Brucebyen (base camp n°1

  • … Hungry were we, so we had diner.
  • We were supposed to cross the fjord to find a place for our first campsite.
  • After an express meal, we loaded the kayaks…
  • … And began to sail!
  • Don't trust the rest of the group if they say I'm not good at piloting kayak. I'm the best (they're just jalous).
  • When the ideal location were found, we could establish our first base camp.
  • But no time to sleep yet: I had to watch over polar bears!
  • Finally, four hours sleeping…
  • … Then the second day of this day started.
  • Short hike to Nordenskiöldbreen.

31/07/2011 | Brucebyen (base camp n°1 - Billefjord - Kapp Ekholm (base camp n°2)

  • Back to kayaks!
  • Ebb tide, wind in the back… Everything was easy.
  • We paddled, paddled, paddled, …
  • … Then the weather became bad, the wind turned.
  • So, we had to stop.
  • Welcome to Kapp Ekholm!!!

01/08/2011 | Kapp Ekholm (base camp n°2) - Billefjord - Phantomodden (base camp n°3)

  • As expected, the turn of duty was cold… and long!
  • But the morning after, the sun was back.
  • So we went pddling.
  • … Until we got hungry…
  • … Then weren't able to move anymore.
  • Too much wind after chinese noddles.
  • So we went hiking to see birds…
  • I missed a 400mm lens!

02/08/2011 | Phantomodden (base camp n°3) - Billefjord - Phantomodden (base camp n°3 bis)

  • The day of our fantastic World Record…
  • First, the sea was calm and flat.
  • So we loaded the kayaks, and began to paddle.
  • … 5 minutes…
  • Then the wind began to blow really strong…
  • Huge waves…
  • So we had to a aground the coast…
  • … as quick as possible!
  • 711
  • 711? The distance, in meters, we paddle this day.
  • Never seen since GNGL exists.
  • It's amazing to notice that this ridiculous record maybe saved our lives…
  • … If we would have crossed the fjord, we would have certain met the polar bear who attacked an english camp in Templefjord…

03/08/2011 | Phantomodden (base camp n°3 bis)

  • Wait.
  • Wait and hope for a better weather.
  • Writting my name on a burning wooden board.
  • Reading a 15 days old paper.
  • Walking on a scrre.
  • Taking picture, half naked on the beach… As if it was hot (but it wasn't).
  • Castaways in Phantomodden.
  • On a hugly beach, in a desert.
  • Castaways in Spitzbergen.
  • Considering we had to reach Longyearbyen before next summer (…), a repatriation was decided.

04/08/2011 | Phantomodden (base camp n°3 bis) - Longyearbyen

  • You may think you're seeing nearly the pictures day after day…
  • It's just because we stayed in the same place day after day!
  • But you certainly notice that, hopefully, the light was always different.
  • After 3 days in Phantomodden, time for repatriation.
  • Back to Longyearbyen.
  • I could write a book on my thoughts this day…
  • I would just say a was the most difficult moment of the trip…
  • For an obscur reason, if I had the choice, I would have decided to stay on this beach. And wait, again and again…

05/08/2011 | Longyearbyen - Ymerbukta

  • Nothing better than a great sleep to be on a good mood.
  • Direction Ymerbukta, where we “borrowed” the basecamp and the kayaks of antoher GNGL group.
  • Great sun, no wind, quiet sea…
  • … The perfect weather to go seal-hunting.
  • We were lucky to see one easily, sleeping on the ice.
  • Closer than you could ever dream to be!
  • Then, a fantastic view of the glaciers around.
  • A postcard of Spitzbergen.

06/08/2011 | Ymerbukta

  • The last turn of duty of the trip, under the midnight sun.
  • After a small kayak trip, we walked to Trygghamna.
  • Around us, reindeers, arctic fox and birds. Lot of birds! A
  • Ahhhhhh, Trygghamna…
  • A fjord, a mountain, a glacier, the sun through the clouds… Wonderful!

07/08/2011 | Ymerbukta - Barentsburg

  • In the early morning, foxy the arctic fox came to visit us.
  • Wonderful moment, while the rest of the team was sleeping.
  • After 2 days in paradise, time was come to leave.
  • On the way back to Longyearbyen, a short stop in Barentsburg.
  • Russian city again, but with inhabitants (contrary to Pyramiden).
  • Spitzbergen paradox: coal mines in the magnificience of nature… Human nature is strange.

08/08/2011 | Longyearbyen

  • Longyearbyen.
  • Again…
  • The road between city-center and the airport.
  • The coal power-plant.
  • Fortunately, wilderness is only few meters away.
  • Fossils on the moraine.
  • Strong wind.
  • Again and again.
  • Then, for the last evening with David, restaurant
  • Pepper steak!!!

09/08/2011 | Longyearbyen

  • Unfortunately, no bird flying above Bjørndalen.
  • Maybe was it too early.
  • Then… Just waiting for the time to carry us to the night.

10/08/2011 | Longyearbyen

  • Last day in Spitzbergen.
  • Ideal weather to visit the Svalbard museum.
  • I ate a yogurt…
  • … You may think it's nothing special, but it becomes after more than 15 days without having this chance.
  • Then, it wa time to pack the tent for a last time.
  • I was both sad and happy…

11/08/2011 | Longyearbyen - Oslo Gardermoen Airport - Paris - Grenoble

  • Only two hours sleeping.
  • Spitzbergen was so sad I left, that it made the sky rain.
  • Not enough time to turn back, I was in Oslo.
  • Then Paris.
  • Time to say goodbye to my trip friends.
  • A few hours after, Lyon.
  • … 28 the days, 4 weeks, 1 month… But, as usual, the longuest moment was this last and boring straight line. The last minutes before I see MY mountains.
  • Grenoble.