Good morning, Longyearbyen! This is our hotel.
This is the only morning I wake up early enough to join the rest for breakfast nearby.
After breakfast, the weather has changed a bit.
It’s only -10C, though windy.
The tour guides pick us up and drive us to today’s starting point.
“We’re just hiking up this mountain,” he says.
Up there? I’m considering going home.
But instead, stupidly, I start the climb.
And immediately fall behind.
It’s cold, it’s windy, and visibility isn’t so great.
And then… it gets worse.
Until my view degrades to this:
I can still feel most of my limbs when we reach the top, and the white-out conditions have lifted a bit.
We pause at the summit for photographs.
I am photographed.
The background is… white.
We trudge back across the summit. To the left: a cliff. To the right: a cliff. Underfoot: unstable sloped snow.
The white-out comes back. There are beautiful mountains all around us. See them?
“We’ll have lunch in here,” says the guide.
Just grab onto the ice pick and lower yourself into the hole.
We’re not so sure about this.
But no time to argue.
Once you’re wedged in, feel around for a rope to lower you the rest of the way. It’s only 10m down.
And down he goes.
The rope drops us 10m deep inside the core of a glacier.
It’s a tight squeeze through the dark channel until we reach a resting place.
There is zero light, besides the ones on our heads.
But there is 3G. Christian checks in on Facebook.
We sit down for lunch and coffee.
Some of the group has to climb into an ice tunnel for seats.
Some of the group has to crawl into a higher, darker ice tunnel for seats.
The rest of the cave was blocked off by snow, so after lunch we crawl out. Scenery is almost visible now.
We head back down the mountain. The guide keeps his rifle on at all times.
Down the mountain.
The sun is almost out, and the snow is slowing.
The Finnish guide is disgusted by the sun’s arrival.
But José is pleased.
Pontus is… something.
Everyone stares in awe at the now-appreciable views.
All are invigorated with a new sense of energy.
And we finish the trip down with ease.
And grab a ride back to town.
We consider “Arctic Tapas”
And laugh about Svalbard Taxis. There are two short roads! Who would take a taxi?
Most of us go out for pre-dinner drinks.
Far from civilization, but not far from scotch.
This bar is for locals, and frequented by miners. The decorations match the clientele.
Who would take a taxi? Us! It takes us to this nondescript building on the far edge of town.
Huset. Michelin Star food outside of the habitable zone.
There is drinking and socializing.
Also, there are cell phones.
Food is served on rocks, so you know it’s good.
Maybe their dishwasher is on holiday.
Finally, a real plate! It’s a bit misshapen, but the reindeer is excellent.
The price… a little less excellent.
Back to the pub for post-dinner drinks.