Our first Ski & Sail this season was on the s/v Rembrandt van Rijn. It’s a fine boat, about 50 m long with space for 33 passengers and 10 crew. We shared the charter with another group of snowshoers. This made for slightly more complicated logistics, but with two zodiacs and the competent direction of the expedition leader Phil Wickens everything went very smoothly.
I guided this trip with my colleage Larry Stanier. Larry and I have known each other for many years, and worked together on the Mountain Conditions Report Committe from its earliest days and humblest beginnings. Yet this is the very first time Larry and I have ever guided together. I really enjoyed working with him. Everything went smoothly despite the fact we exchanged just a small handful of emails about this logistically complicated trip, and despite the fact that Larry had never been to Svalbard before. Larry rolls with the curve balls of these international trips with ease, and no surprise: this season alone he was also ski guiding in Japan (twice) as well as Greenland and Iceland!
During the land based pre-sail touring days in Longyearbyen we had the pleasure of meeting up with local mining engineer Martin Øen, whose assistance was invaluable, including a snowmobile tow to the opposite side of Isfjord to tour into the Opera zone.
Highlights: We had really calm weather this week, with cloud bands that made travel interesting but never impossible. It’s hard to beat the day we toured up into Tinayrebukta, my favourite little fjord. Or the traverse across the peninsula into Ny-Ålesund, a tiny research outpost at 79 degrees north, on the south side of Kongsfjord. The day concluded a spectacular powder run down to the village. But I think the skiing highlight for me was laying down turns alongside a startled reindeer — I’m sure I was just as surprised to see him, as I came around the moraine just above Sankt Jonsfjord!
The skiing was amazing, but I have to say dinner at the Gruvelageret in Longyearbyen was on of the biggest highlights for the five of us who went. What a meal! Reindeer tenderloin, mushroom soup made with local mushrooms and cod, seared minke whale… an evening I will never forget.
Finally – here’s a collection of photos from the trip; enjoy!