Those who do not like hot weather will either turn on the air conditioner at home and watch the television, or pack their backpack and go somewhere in the mountains, behind snow and ice, and a pleasant cold. I belong to the other. Today, when I don´t like go to the hill, and when I can travel far beyond the limits of the “socialist camp”, I finally began to fulfill my dreams of visiting the pleasantly cool northern, Arctic regions. After Ireland, Scotland, Orkney and Norway, the dream “Cold Edge” has finally arrived, as is the literal translation of the Norwegian name of the Svalbarði archipelago. However, according to the characteristic sharp ridges of the local mountains, the Dutch name Spitsbergen – “Jagged Peaks” seems to me more apt.
The route Prague – Oslo and Oslo – Svalbard takes a few hours with a transfer to the Norwegian capital. I was surprised how many different nationalities even on this off-season time aboard the aircraft, including other Czechs, Slovaks or Poles. This is certainly due to the fact that Czech research station – a Czech research station – is in operation in Longyearbyen. Right next to the Russian House.
When a friend visits Norway, he finds out that he is expensive in Norway. When the Norwegian visits Svalbard, they find it expensive. I guess. Fortunately, there is one facility, called Coal Miners’ Cabins, where you can to get very cheap accommodation. The former hut for coal miners is now a pleasant hostel. Even with a great pub. Beer is coast 300, – CZK and hamburger is almost a thousand, but what about. At 78 degrees north, there is no man every day.There are only about 16 km of asphalt roads on Svalbard. Other transport takes place by sea, but mainly by snowmobiles. You need to rent a scooter for each trip, as well as a rifle to protect you from the polar bear. You can also hire a scooter guide from a local tourist agency. A four-day trip to Svalbard with two snowmobile trips is quite expensive. It costs about 60 thousand CZK.
But our target was a completely different polar object. We didn’t need a scooter or a guide. We just had to stop worrying about polar bears and going. Where? After all, the snow queen of the local archipelago – the polar fox!
But we still had concerns about the arrival of the bear. We didn’t have a rifle. We planned to stay close to the car within 100 meters. We soon forgot to look at the first fox we met. We were really lucky to see her the very first morning. On the steep slopes of Istfjord, we finally observed and photographed a total of four polar foxes. Apparently they are quite used to the presence of people. She was not disturbed at all when feasting on a dead reindeer. Even the pre-designed idea that one of us four would always be on a “bear watch” was naive. As soon as the fox or reindeer appeared in the right light, she took all the security resolutions as her own. The big problem was the terrain. Thanks to the constant wind and strong frosts, the low snow cover turned into icy glaze and the movement on frozen slopes with heavy photographic equipment often became impossible.
In addition to foxes, the only other photographic object was the local reindeer. On Svalbard there is a subspecies of Arctic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus), which is almost half the size of its continental cousin. Moreover, this subspecies, apparently because of a much more modest food supply, do not form herds. Winter always spends only a few individuals in the community. There is so little food here that some “cows”, as female reindeer are called, will leave their calves. They do not have enough strength to dig through the snow to eat and often starve to death, which we could see for themselves.
Four days passed like snow clouds over Longyearbyen Harbor. Every day with the snow queen flickered faster than the wave wing of gulls above the frozen waters of the Istfjord. We only briefly looked into the “Cold Edge”, the kigdom of the unlimited ruler of the polar bear. But I do not see the sharp teeth of Spitsbergen last.