In June 2019, I went to back to Svalbard. After experiencing Svalbard for 4 months in the fall of 2018 as part of my studies there, I decided that I wanted to see Svalbard in every time of the year. The light winter (spring) and summer were still on the wishlist. This time, I had the possibility to see Svalbard in June.
I arrived in Svalbard on monday the 17th of June. I stayed until the 26th of June. I was visiting my girlfriend Anna, who was in studying a summer course at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). Upon landing, the arrival in Longyearbyen was already very different from the flights I had in the autumn. When I arrived for my exchange in August 2018, I couldn’t really see anything of Svalbard from the plane, since it was cloudy. When I left, in December, it was completely dark due to the polar night. I saw Northern Lights from the plane, but I didn’t see anything of Svalbard anymore.
This time, it was completely light and also, there were few clouds. The sky was mostly blue and the white peeks were towering above the clouds: a beautiful view. The photo’s below were made from the airplane upon arrival.
The first days I have mainly been walking around in Longyearbyen. I enjoyed the environment and the extraordinary nature. I was extremely lucky with the weather: except for a few cloudy days, the sun was shining every day. It was relatively warm for the time of the year with temperatures around 8 degrees. Due to the amount of sunshine and little wind, the temperature was very pleasant. Below you will find some photo’s from the first days.
A view over all of Svalbard – Hiking to the top of Nordenskiöldfjellet
On thursday the 20th of June, we went on a hike to Nordenskiöldfjellet, a mountain next to Longyearbyen that reaches a height of 1053 meters above sea level. I already wanted to climb this mountain during my exchange semester in Svalbard, but by the time we got experienced with hiking in these surroundings, the polar night arrived and that, in combination with the wintry weather, made the circumstances for hiking up there suboptimal.
This time, the conditions were better. The weather was calm and enjoyable, most snow was gone – although we still sunk down to our hips in the snow at some points – and thanks to the midnight sun, it was light 24 hours a day. This last part was essential, since we could only start the hike around 15:30, due to Anna’s lecture earlier that day. Because of the midnight sun, we did not have to worry nor hurry to get back home before dark.
We started our hike walking up from UNIS. On the side of Adventdalen, we hiked up towards Platåberget, a plateau that has a height of approximately 400 m.a.s.l. From there, we walked up on the ridge towards Nordenskiöldfjellet, between the glaciers Platåbreen and Longyearbreen. Somewhere on this ridge, we stopped to have dinner, since it was already evening at that point.
Once at the top of Nordenskiöldfjellet, just after 20:00 in the evening, the views were absolutely stunning. It almost seemed like you could see all of Svalbard. Countless snow covered peaks were visible in all directions, and towards the west and south the impressively large Isfjorden could be seen. Even the open ocean was visible. Already before reaching the peak, the views were breathtaking. It is easily one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, if not the most beautiful. Enjoy some of the views in the photo gallery below.
Except for the views, the hike was also fun from a meteorological point of view. While we started the hike in the valley with a temperature of 8 degrees and just a t-shirt on, we reached the top in several layers of clothing – including thick jackets. At the peak, the temperature was a few degrees below 0 and the amount of snow was impressive.
Hike to Foxfonna glacier
The following saturday we went for a hike further away from Longyearbyen. With a big group of people, we took a taxi towards the southeast, into Adventdalen. We were dropped of at the EISCAT Svalbard Radar and from there continued to hike up to the Foxfonna glacier.
Eventually we climbed up to 700 meters, and again we enjoyed some magnificent views. Enjoy the photo’s below!
Also outside of the hikes, we enjoyed the environment. During the week, we spotted beluga whales (see the photo below). On Saturday, we went out in Huset, the local club and the most famous nightlife venue on Svalbard. It feels very weird to go out when it’s completely light during the night!
Time flies when you’re having fun, before we knew, it was time to go home again. The photo’s below were all made upon departure, the first one just before departing, the last two from the plane. Note the photo’s were made between midnight and 3 AM local time. It was still completely bright outside!