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Spitsbergen Bound

I’m 10 days out from heading to the island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago of Norway.  My friend Eric and his brother Bruce concocted this idea last fall…an adventure to the regions beyond the most northern town on the planet  (Longyearbyen) with a surly bunch of Scotsmen for a week of back-country ski mountaineering.

Here are some helpful facts about Spitsbergen:

  • It is just over 15,000 square miles in area…a little bit larger than the state of Maryland.
  • Spitsbergen is home to the Svalbard International Seed Vault, a global backup storage facility for the world’s seed banks (maybe my friends at Bluebird Grain Farms might want me to pick something up while I’m there…)
  • The Svalbard archipelago lies completely within the Arctic Circle.
  • The sun in late April is above the horizon 24 hours per day and average temps will probably be around 14º F (-10º C)
  • I’ve heard a variety of numbers ranging from 1:1 all the way up to 5:1…but regardless of which way you look at it, the polar bear to human ratio is substantially different than I’m used to.

We will be sleeping in a base camp surrounded by a flare gun tripwire perimeter. Each day we will be skinning to ski-able slopes with rifles on our backs. The bears awake from hibernation in February and will have been feeding on seals for a couple of months by the time we arrive, so they shouldn’t be looking at us as food…we hope.

My biggest challenge will be keeping my batteries warm enough to last the whole 8 day trip. I tend to use my LCD display for histogram readouts…probably more than I should. I’ll be making an effort to change that habit as much as possible. The hand warmers should also help a bunch…maybe I’ll make a thermal bag to store them…like a neoprene tea cozy…

I’ve never been somewhere this remote before and I think it will be an eye-opening experience…hopefully my camera and I will be able to do it justice.

Oh and by the way, yes I did just turn 40, and no, my Mom doesn’t know I’m going on this journey.

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  1. April 10, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Wow…EA…this is one of my dream trips..for a wildlife photographer it’s very, very high on my list. Telemark’s and Scotsmen..will be so much fun. I love your website…beautiful. Congratulations to you both. Good luck with the technical aspects of the journey…keep your hands warm! Kathleen x

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