Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spitsbergen

"Es heißt ja nicht umsonst Spitsbergen!"
"They don't call the island 'Mountain Peaks' for no reason!" - Ingo Schewe, translation mine

Aurora borealis behind barrack 11. Photo by Adrian Pop.
Dear friends, when I last left you, I told you the course was over. Well, in reality, most of the Master's students took off last weekend, but the Ph.D. students had to stay on and write an additional report. (Higher degree, higher expectations.) I'm actually grateful for that report, because it kept me in Svalbard for an extra 7 days, and when you're in the most beautiful place on the planet, every second counts.

I've spent most of my daytime hours this past week in the UNIS computer lab with the report, but in the evenings, I was free to just breathe deeply and be in love with Longyearbyen. There was the night we all sat on the barrack 11 roof and watched the northern lights. Then there was that time we had a dance party in the kitchen. There were two times that someone confused me for a Norwegian, and I took it as a huge compliment. There was saying goodbye to my classmates, and then more goodbyes, and then more.

There are only three of us left now - me, a Russian, and a Romanian - and the Russian and I leave tomorrow. We decided to use our last day in Longyearbyen to go on a hike, so the Romanian (who happens to be in charge of the UNIS student council) hooked us up with a rifle and helped us decide on a route.

For those of you familiar with Spitsbergen topography, we hiked up Sukkertoppen, walked along the ridge and across the plateau, summited Trollstein, then came down across Larsbreen and ended at Nybyen. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, we hiked up a mountain, walked along a narrow ridge and across a plateau, went up to the summit of another mountain, then came down across a glacier and ended back at our dorm.

It was an absolutely fantastic hike and the perfect way to spend my last day in Longyearbyen. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Adventfjorden, seen from Sukkertoppen

Dear Trollstein,
I will conquer you.
Sincerely,
Kirstin

The narrow ridge to the Trollstein summit

Uliana and I at the Trollstein summit

Coming down the slope from Trollstein to Larsbreen (the big white patch on the left)

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