Category Archives: Svalbard

Crazy for the top of the world: Eclectic community of adventurers and workers again come together to brave a range of bizarre hardships in their shared lure of the North Pole

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Vladimir Putin won’t be facing off in the pope-blessed “Last Ice Hockey Game at the North Pole” until next year due to organizational snafus. A “badass lady” from India is supposedly living up to that rep by skiing from Oslo to the top of the world. And a world-class marathoner from Hong Kong who says his competitive juices aren’t flowing for this year’s icy endurance race at the Pole also hopes to beat the 4.5-hour record time by at least an hour.

Welcome to another season between 89 and 90 degrees latitude north where expedition-of-a-lifetime quests, awareness campaigns, trophy seeking, publicity stunts, outhouses from hell and lots of beer are the hallmarks of a temporary exclusive community inhabited by some of the hardiest workers and well-heeled misfits (and we don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way) on Earth.

Assuming they eventually manage to make it to the starting line at the village, so to speak, which these days is just one more extreme oddity.

APRIL FOOLS FOR NORTH POLE HOPEFULS: Hoards stuck in Longyearbyen as construction and Russian/Ukrainian political spat threaten another disastrous season at Barneo ice camp

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They paid fortunes to attempt the dream adventure of a lifetime by reaching the North Pole, but instead are stuck waiting in cafes and sleeping on floors of hopelessly overbooked lodges (or boats, or wherever they can find empty space) because the Bareno ice camp at 89 degrees latitude north, which “officially” opened April 1, is now delaying the first flights to the base by more than a week due to problems building the ice runway and a political squabble between Russia and the Ukraine about operations there.

MALL CRAWL: Remodeled Lompensenteret ‘reopens’ after long dark period gives way to brighter lights, art and furnishings

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The overhaul of the mall took considerably longer than planned, caused merchants some dark feelings due to forced temporary store closures and new rent policies, and had many locals feeling dim about the gloomy black-painted hallways. But much like the sunlight outside roaring back to nearly continuous during the past few weeks after the polar night, a mad rush of final decorative days inside Lompensenteret culminated in bright atmosphere and attitudes during its official “reopening” on Thursday.

Avalanche death settlement: Parents of Nikoline Røkenes, 2, resolve negligence complaint against city for 2.3M kr.

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The parents of a two-year-old girl killed when their home was buried in the Dec. 19, 2015, avalanche have agreed to settle a negligence complaint against the city of Longyearbyen for 2.365 million kroner that will be paid through an insurance company, with the city not acknowledging responsibility for the girl’s death, according to the family’s attorney.

SEE TO SKI: Bright lights for new ski hill as onlookers, volunteer operators and youths embrace the down side of life

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Emil Indreiten Johansen, 10, was the first to arrive with a friend, but still found himself enduring a lengthy wait to catch the pole lift at Longyearbyen’s new ski hill, since the cluster of oh-so-nearly trained adults to operate it were still at the top of the slope getting final pointers.

But after a three-year wait since the closure of the lift at a hill two kilometers from the one now in the center of town, he didn’t mind the delay – especially since he prefers it to the old one.

PROLONGED POST POSTPONMENT: Mail flight cancellations to last most of this week; special flights scheduled Wed., Fri.

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The cancellation of mail flights to Longyearbyen that began last week due to technical problems arising from a cracked wing are likely to continue through this week as the second of two planes used for such flights is now being serviced, according to officials.

‘No other place in the world is warming up faster than Svalbard’: March will be 100th straight month of above-average Svalbard temperatures, weather service says

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The cold made things interesting by taking the lead during the first half of March, but ultimately was overcome and now will suffer its 100th straight defeat as Svalbard is about to surpass its 100th straight month of above-average temperatures, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

ETERNALLY GOLD: Trym Aunevik gets royal welcome home after proving himself an all-time best at Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi

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Trym Aunevik, 17, didn’t return to Longyearbyen with any gold medals – or even bronze. But the same lifetime of determination earning him a trip to the Special Olympic World Games in Abu Dhabi deemed him worthy of competing against the best of the best once he got there and he went three-for-three in the larger challenge of achieving the gold for himself.

Aunevik, one of Norway’s four national champion swimmers at the Games, set personal records during two events and tied his best at a third while finishing fourth, fifth and sixth in the races. He got a “white carpet” reception when he arrived with his family at Svalbard Airport on Saturday evening with bright lights and teenage peers bearing Norwegian flags lined both sides of the snow-covered tarmac greeting him as he emerged from the plane to cheers of onlookers.

SCOOTER OFF: Governor overrules city, orders Hurtigruten Svalbard to immediately remove dozens of snowmobiles from open field due to complaints

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“No parking” of snowmobiles in a large field near the edge of Longyearbyen does not mean the city can violate its own code by declaring “except for a huge tourist fleet,” The Governor of Svalbard stated Friday in order demanding Hurtigruten Svalbard immediately remove dozens of its rental units from the area due to complaints from residents.

Snow now, snow tomorrow, snow forever: More than 100 locals gather in heavy snowstorm hoping it’s more than a memory in northernmost gathering of global ‘climate strike’

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As luck would have it – or not, if folks wanted a more “tragic” setting – it was an idyllic snowy Arctic morning for more than 100 people marching in the world’s northernmost gathering of a global youth climate strike that a reported 1.4 million people participated in worldwide Friday.

A drum-beating polar bear, kids holding signs atop a huge pile of freshly plowed snow, and promises not to keep participants standing in the chilly storm too long during a few speeches and songs all spoke to an Arctic that still exists. But with a recent study showing Longyearbyen has already lost two months of winter each year due to climate change in recent decades, Anna Kexel, a German student at The University Centre in Svalbard, told strikers she wants such days to be more than a memory.