Back Svalbard 2024

May 2024
Barents Island Around 2024

The more recent history of land activity on Barentsøya:

The island became a Nature Reserve in 1973 and all motorized traffic is prohibited. (snowmobile). No one had driven around the island before '73. In the early 80s, Johannes Hjønnevåg and Robin Buzza were dog driving in the northern part. In 1988, Buzza, Jan Brunner and Nina Fure were also mushing in the North. In 1992 Jan Brunner and Levi Rørvik was in the same area with dogs, Franken Peninsula. In 2004, Anton Trøen & Pritta drove from North to South across the Barentsjøkul (glacier) with dogs. In the last 20 years, no one has moved (legally) on land on the Barents Islands in wintertime.

No one has ever circumnavigated the island on land before now. Here comes the story:

Day 0:

The transport of 4 humans & 21 dogs to the East Coast of Spitsbergen




Starting with snowmobiles at the dogyard in Longyearbyen



Break in Sassen Valley



On top of Usher Glacier



Down Usher Glacier. Barents Island and Stor Fjord in background



Camp at Usher Glacier morain. From here the dogs have to work.



Camplife at Usher Glacier


some of the 21 dogs


Day 1:

The Crossing Of The Stor Fjord starts on westside of Spitsbergen in Mohnbukta



55 km track over the ice to west side of Freeman Sound



Barents Island left, Freeman Sound in the midle and Edgeøya right



flat is in the midle of Stor Fjord









Stor Fjord means "Big Fjord" - and it is!



Break on Stor Fjord ice






Ingvild & The Team



Getting in heavier ice east in Stor Fjord



The border between flat ice and packice



me finding a way in the packice



Spitsbergen in background






The first view of Würzburger cabin



Würzburger cabin



The Barents Island 2024 crew



Looking east into Freeman Sound



Freeman Sound to east



Kapp Lee, Edgeøya on the other side of Freeman Sound



our home for two nights: Würzburger cabin



Day 2:

Rectour to the East


Since the Freeman Sound was packed with impassable ice and we had to go around Cape Waldeburg to get around, we needed a rec-tour with light sleds to check if it was possible to get to the East Coast. For me, perhaps the best day of the trip (the reason comes on day 3)



We had to round this place: Cape Waldeburg



One week old Radar SatPix indicate open water out there



The rec-tour track



Easy start from Würzburger



Heavy packed ice along the shore



The front of Freeman Glacier



Almost out at Cape Waldburg





The East cost of Barentsøya



discussing an other way back



... we will try Freemann Glacier route




Day 3:

The East Coast (1)

Now we are ready for the East Coast! We was initially thinking of taking the entire east side all the way up to the Frankenhalvøya (80-90 Km) in a long day with the possibility of camping if it was too far. - There was a camp in the bear country:


Leaving Würzburger



Icefoot in Freeman Sound



some part was very easy to move on



freshwater in front of Freeman Glacier



almost at Cape Waldburg



the icefoot at Cape Waldburg



picking up firewood depot from the rec-tour






Within half an hour all crap on this tour happend. It started with the sled got into cracks in the icefoot several times



then the sled turned over. No big deal here...


So we got a second tipover. Tina got it on teip: I was thrown from the sled and hit an ice cube with all my weight on my left kidney. I could not move and was in great pain




Marcos, Tina and Ingvild had to set up an emergency camp in the middle of the bear country about halfway on the east coast and got me inside the tent. Very strong wind from the glacier made it difficult



View north on the east coast (Ritterflya) with M&T's tent



The tent was barely set up when a bear came towards the tent which Marcos scared away. When he got inside the tent, the stove caught fire and the whole inner tent was full of flames and smoke



The question was whether I had suffered internal bleeding from the fall. In this case, Super Puma helicopter were probably the only way out



We made satphone contact with a doctor and the gang looked after me



Since we are in what we consider to be Svalbard's densest bear population, the three others organized a night watch of 3 hours each






Eventually it didn't look like internal bleeding and I took some strong painkillers



The question was whether I could continue the trip? Was going to decide on it the next morning. View: Olgastredet to east



Track for Day 3




Day 4:

The East Coast (2)

Moving on North at the East Coast



The night was painfull but I decided I could continue as a patient sitting on the sled. Leaving the emergency camp headding North over Ritterflya here



50 mg of morphine during the day sitting on the sled. The seaice east of Barentsøya here.



Crossing west into Dorstbukta. North side of Barentsøya



Plenty of reindeers at the SE and NW side! Here: Dorstbukta









Augne Glacier in background












We had to find a way over Frankenpeninsula



A pass that we hope will bring us over Frankenpeninsula to the Heimland cabin









On the map everything is flat, but the terrain wasn't



Finding a way



not flat






Getting down to seaice in Ginevrabotn. Marcos&Tina collect glacier ice for fresh water



Heimland cabin



Heimland cabin



Heimland cabin



The track.

Thanx to Marcos, Tina and Ingvild who brought med save from the camp to the save cabin!




Day 5:


Restitution & bad weather


My condition wasn't good. A lot of pain and eating painkillers. But the weather was bad and we needed a resting day anyway






Cabin life at Heimland






Marcos dealing with the dogs












Our leader dog: Lesum



Stilleben @ Heimland



Inside Heimland



Me writing in the cabin book



20 years ago Anton Trøen & Pritta was here with their dogsteams



Our notes in the cabin book at Heimland



The weather looked a bit better for tomorrow








Day 6:

The way home over Stor Fjord

Bad weather & GPS navigation


I'm still a patient with a lot of pain but we had to point the dognoses SW and cross the Storfjord



nice conditions on the ice at Heimland



then it was snowing and snowing and snowing...









25 km from Heimland: Mistakodden






with GPS on headding out on Stor Fjord



Storfjord with some visibility



"dekrølling" the dogslines






Some times we could see Barentsøya and Edgeøya but we never saw Spitsbergen befor hidding shoreline



After 65 km the mod was bad! Tons of snow and slow progress for the teams



Ingvild decided to put on her skies and walked in front of the dogs



We had to reach the old camp in the Usher morain.

I can't understand where she got the energy from! I was completely exhausted even mostly sitting as a patient on the sled



The old camp in the Usher morain



The 70 Km track from Heimland to Usher moraine




Day 7:

The 80 Km way home over land back to Longyearbyen

Tons of snow - and the miss of snow

We reversed the day and drove at night. Streams and waterholes were frozen at night.


A lot of snow on Usherbreen



Rabbotmoraine and Sassendalen



Up Rabbotmoraine



Marcos up Rabbotmoraine



Break at Eskerfossen



Adventdalen. Almost no snow here at Innehytta



At Innehytta.

But we made it with the snowmobiles all the way in to town.


A big THANKS to Ingvild, Tina & Marcos!

Without their help I couldn't implement this tour after my accident on the east coast of Barentsøya!