torsdag 9. april 2009

Easter trip

Staffan and I started an eight day ski trip last Sunday with three friends. The plan was to start at mine 7 in Adventdalen and go east towards the east coast as far as we could get, and then come back partly through Adventdalen to Bolterdalen. We started off in the afternoon with sunshine and -20 degrees. The first hill was steep and long, especially for those pulling heavy pulkas with tents, stoves, and food for over a week. The first day everything always takes more time than usual when everyone has to adjust their gear, so we did not get very far, and put up camp on the plateau after the hill. It was already getting late when we finally got inside the tents after putting them up, getting all our stuff inside and not the least putting up the tripwire against the polar bear. Staffan and I got ready to start our stove, but we soon realized that something was wrong when we heard a strange sound from the pump. Staffan tried to fix it, but it was not possible for him to work with his gloves on. Usually the skin turns white before you get a frostbite, so he figured that as long as they were not white he was fine, but it was cold working with the metal in -22 degrees. In the end we realized we needed a long screwdriver to fix it (which we of course never bring with us on trips), so we ended up borrowing the stove from the other tent, and did not get dinner until 11 pm.

The next morning we went back again towards mine 7 to try and borrow a screwdriver. At the northern lights observatory (Kjell Henriksen Observatory) we got to borrow a screwdriver, and when that did not help, we also got to borrow the internet to find the number of a service center that gave us a clue on how to fix it. We finally realized that a silicone ring between two parts was missing, and got it working again.

That evening Staffan discovered a fairly big blister on his one finger, and that all the other finger tips were a bit numb. The next morning it was no better, so we decided it was best to go home and not risk the frost bites getting even worse. We packed our stuff and took down the tent in wind and snow, with low visibility and the wind making it a bit difficult to pack everything down. For the first time on a trip I appreciated having a gps with us. Usually we would stay in the tent on a day like that, but it was no big problem finding our way back, even though we could barely see what the ground looked like a few meters ahead.

Back in Longyearbyen we went to see a doctor about the frost bites. There is usually nothing they can do unless they are very severe, so Staffan was only told to stay inside and keep his fingers warm so they will heal as quickly as possible. So now we have a week to spend inside with lots of movies from the library, good food and after a few days maybe some short day trips outside.

onsdag 8. april 2009

Reindeer and a visit to Svalsat

On a snowmobile trip in Adventdalen and out to Bjørndalen we came over some reindeer sleeping in the snow. Unfortunately we disturbed them, but they only got up and started grazing, except these two. One of the next days we came upon a little family of what seemed to be a mother, father and calf, coming over Sarkofagen and Larsbreen over to Gruvefjellet.

Thursday before Easter the whole biology class went on a trip to Svalsat, the worlds northernmost satellite ground station. Because of their unique position so close to the pole, and another station in Antarctica under the same company, they are among the most important stations in the world. Being close to the pole they are able to catch the signals from the satellites much more frequently than other places on Earth, and NASA are among the organizations using data gathered by this ground station.