Day 2 of our Spitsbergen Expedition involved a long day of climbing in gorgeous mountain terrain. The snow is outstanding this year and there was very little ice, which allowed the group to ascend steep areas with only a small amount of portage involved.
Near the end of the day, our team reached a ridge with stunning views and from there they blissfully began their descent toward the distant water. They've established their second camp of the expedition still a few hours from the Sassenfjorden Coast at the following position:
N 78° 19 04
E 16° 07 31
Temperatures hovered around -18°C during the day and were already at -22°C tonight when Dixie called. They endured some irritating katabatic winds during their climb, but those gusts diminished once they began their descent on the other side of the ridge.
For safety reasons, the team established a downwind food cache away from their tents in the unlikely event of a bear visit during the night. This technique allows the participants to be awakened by the noise of a bear rummaging through their supplies from a safe distance and provides time for preparation to scare the animal away. While polar bears are not yet too active this early in March, there are some male bears in the Svalbard Archipelago who hunt without a hibernation period. Mother bears and babies are normally still in their winter sleep. Be prepared is thus the message for anyone traveling in Spitsbergen.
Tomorrow the team expects to enjoy some unforgettable scenery along the shores of the Sassenfjorden before they eventually will make a u-turn and slowly begin their trek back toward Longyearbyen.