/ Winter climbing on Svalbard?
Aware it will be pretty dark, and pretty cold. Is there likely to be enough moonlight to get some vis/not have to use headtorches (for fairly easy routes). Is there any twilight or just uniform darkness?
Also, likely to be cold enough to not need to bring waterproofs?
Probs be sticking within area 10 cos it seems like less hassle, but not sure if there is enough worthwhile hills there for a couple of weeks.
Can they work a belay plate without opposable thumbs?
if you go to university there or are part of any of the survey teams the license/rifle situation is taken care of as part of the induction
Winter... How well can you climb in wind chill temps of -50?
It is dark from around November 14th to January 29th (the dark season), then its twilight or the blue season as we like to call it.
Svalbard is not really renowned for its climbing. Whilst there are routes in the north, in the Atomfjella region, they only see a handful of ascents a decade... if that. Mainly due to the redonkulous logistical requirement, insurance costs and legislation concerning nature reserves. The best and most spectacular mountains are in the south and the west but these are essentially inaccessible at that time of year, unless you have a boat or a helicopter.
MA10 is pretty much dominated by choss/scree, messed up sandstone and shall. The mountains are all plateaus with relatively gentle slopes, with the only good stuff being towards the north around Templefjorden and Billefjorden where it's harder limestone... but still all choss. That lends another problem as some of these areas are in nature reserves are require a permit to travel. You will also be limited by scooter transport as the fjords wont be frozen that time of year.
Otherwise there's just the generic mountains that have all been done to death and are only really good for skiing.
On polar bears, there's a massive amount of info and legislation online, you can look that bit up. They are active throughout the year and are everywhere. Forget all the bullshit about them only mooching around sea ice etc. They can go any place and will. Central Spitsbergen is relatively bear free around Adventfjord and Sassenfjord during winter, as most bears go south and east. Their main denning areas are Hopen and Edge°ya, but are also well known around Agardhbukta through the winter. This means they can mooch up into the central area quite easily. For this reason you will need a rifle, flare gun, and satellite phone as a minimum of safety equipment at all times outside of Longyearbyen. Beacons are also available. This kit can all be hired but you need a permit from the governor before you can hire a weapon. To get the permit you need proof you're competent at shooting/ handing firearms (e.g. a licence or shooting club membership), or a letter from a police department that you aren't a nutter. Add in tripwire flares for your camp and it all starts to become a tad more exciting.
The mountains are chossy plateaus for the most part near human habitation.
Go skiing for short trips IF you can meet the requirements for hiring a rifle and other safety equipment.
Do not under estimate the bear threat at any time of year (away from town park rangers wont walk 10m between 2 huts without being heavily armed and approach corners of buildings by giving them a wide berth and peering round in case there is a bear about).
Cuddly they may be but they are the ultimate mammallian killing machine. 0-30 as fast as your car, flipping huge seals out of the water with one paw etc. etc.
Its the only place I've been where the locals bikes all have rifle racks. When we were there we locked our rifles in a cabinet to go into the supermarket and checked them in at the bar to go for a drink.
Re bears - yeah, I'm aware they're a serious issue. A friend of mine was involved in a bad incident with one on Svalbard a few years ago.
As far as I have found out, it doesn't seem that hard to hire a gun on svalbard, just need to apply to the guv for a permit in advance.
Another interesting thing I've heard of is people renting a dog and using it as an early warning system, might allow us to sleep a little easier. Obviously can't take a dog up hard mixed routes, but then hopefully polar bears cant climb above AD.
Really useful post. Thanks alot
I don't know. Coldest windchill I've been in is roughly -35, I can remember thinking it was alright when covered up. Took my gloves off for roughly half a minute to re-tie a shoelace, franticly bending the laces, hands go numb, struggle to get gloves back on, took 10 minutes of rewarming before they were mobile enough to tie the other boot. So I can see that anything that requires de-gloving is almost certainly impossible. But covered up, I could see it being OK.
We'd stick to stuff that was easy/simu climb stuff, not psyched for waiting at a belay for several hours in severe temps.
Alot of the attraction is I fancy the idea doing some cold climbs, and this is a good way to see if I can handle it, relatively cheap/low hassle.
Much moonlight generally? I ask as I can think of the odd day in scottish winter where it's been midnight, but light enough to just about read a book by the moonlight and the reflection of the light of the snow.
I definitely need to get a map but this seems really useful.
Stalking about on google maps, I found Eskerfossen, it's not much but it'd give some entertainment, you know it/any others? Of course, it might not be formed that early. http://www.panoramio.com/photo/34255481
If you want cold and early season ice, why not got to Lapland? A big selection of climbs to do. Hire a car for a few days and you can go between venues to get the best conditions. Some easier routes are said to be better pre Xmas as they don't get threatened by snow build up.
That is probably the most you will find. Depending on snow conditions all gullies will be out, either capped by cornices or totally laden with unconsolidated powder. December is the main month for snow. And it has become common for rain in January.
There is often more than enough, but it all depends on weather conditions, loads of people ski all through the winter if snow is good enough.
You can purchase all maps from any of the outdoor shops in Longyear, the supermarket, museum or direct from NP.
People climb there, but I never understood why, its 5m at best...
But like Toby said, mainland Norway or further north has some excellent early season winter climbing, our season started 29th of October, but when you say you will have a week or two spare is that specifically in December? i.e are you there to study, or is that the only time you have? Otherwise I would recommend waiting until around February... Far colder and better conditions... with some daylight.
I manage a tall ship. Right now we are looking to confirm our 2014 voyage programme. We are looking at the feasibility of sailing the Norwegian coast/ fjords north to the Svalbard Islands (Arctic) in July/August 2014.
Is there any interest out there for sailing a tall ship into ski touring, mountaineering and climbing locations from Norway to the Arctic?
What mountaineering, skiing and climbing locations are not to be missed from Stavanger north to the Svalbard Islands?
Any thoughts and suggestions are welcomed! Feel free to forward this inquiry to anyone in your network who may have some ideas.
Check our our boat: http://www.maybe-sailing.com/index.php
Elsewhere on the site
At a bar in Llanberis an old man chimed in And I thought he was out of his head Being a young man I just laughed it off When... Read more