From a plane straight to a mountain peak

From a plane straight to a mountain peak

I came to Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited town located on the main island called Spitsbergen, in the late afternoon. My plane landed at 18.00 h; as soon as I came to the hostel and left my tiny suitcase in my room I ran outside as the guide for my first svalbardian activity was waiting for me. My main goal was to not waste ANY time while I am here, so this seemed like a perfect way to start this adventure.

I went on a hike to a nearby mountain (one of them to be more precise; LYB is a city in a u-shaped valley created by glacial ice movement and is surrounded by numerous peaks) with the intention to look at the area from its top. The name of the mountain is picked appropriately – because of its flat “peak” or summit it is called Platåfjellet (norw. plateau + the hill), and its elevation is more than decent enough to get a fantastic oversight over whole area – the city of Longyearbyen, Isfjorden fjord in which LYB lies, Hiorthfjellet mountain which lies on the other side of a smaller bay/fjord called Adventfjorden, Adventdalen valley in the neighborhood, Sarkofagen mountain which was a protagonist of a hike a few days after… This piece of wilderness is stunning beyond words and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves nature and considers this place for a visit.

The hike was approx 3 hours long. The path was quite steep but very enjoyable. As you ascend, the view of the area gradually widens and it is impossible not to take a bunch of pictures.

Longyearbyen city, a home for approx 2 000 people, surrounded by mountains.
On the left you can see Hiorthfjellet mountain by the shore of Adventfjorden.
In the far end is Adventdalen valley, and on the right, partially covered by shadow of Platåfjellet is Sukkertoppen mountain.
Peak at the Isfjorden as I was climbing

The guide was a british guy heavily armed with cookies and tea. As the law requires, he also had to carry a rifle which is intended for use in case of attack of a polar bear. It was cold and windy, just the way I like it while I hike, as the wind brushes off any excess heat off of you as you walk upwards. Expected daily temps for late august are cca 5-6 degrees during the day, and around 1-2 degrees during the night, and I can only say that during my visit the weather conditions were outstandingly good in every possible way. The best way for me to observe the temps was my metal water bottle, sitting in my backpack, ready for a sip – even though I was pouring only cold water in it, it would cool down very fast while I was walking through the city or during hikes.

I walked along the edge to take pictures as I was completely stunned by the beauty while the others were busy eating the cookies. There is a very thin line between this tiny human settlement and the wilderness in which it lies. Humans in this area are just an “accident”, they came and settled here just because of the coal. If anything happens, and the interest of tourists vanishes, this wilderness won’t flinch even a tiny bit. This system is beautifully self-reliant and sustainable by itself.

View from the top of the Platåfjellet.
Part of Longyearbyen called Nybyen (new city) with Sarkofagen mountain at the end of the road.
The hostel where I was stationed, Gjestehuset 102, is placed beneath the Sarkofagen.
Longyearbyen and Adventfjorden.
Platå at Platåfjellet. This is only a tiny part of it. I was surprised how flat the whole summit looks and how huge it is.
Sarkofagen. I have another story about it, which includes a hike around it with an unusual company, transversing a glacier and plant fossils.

A couple of months before I arrived, while I was booking activities and picking flight dates, I decided to come to LYB in the evening of the last night in 2020 with midnight sun, in which the Sun does not set at all. The idea of standing on a mountain in such a “night” gave another dimension to this place. I was exposed to the 24 hr light before and have literally zero issues with it, as it does not interfere with my circadian rhythm at all. Basically I thrive in these conditions.

During the next night, there was 40 minutes of darkness. The amount of sunless hours increases until 25th of october, when the polar night steps in, and stays until 8th of march. My next goal is to return exactly here and do another week of (winter) activities, in complete darkness.

After the hike I went to a restaurant with a fantastic American-Norwegian woman who decided to invest in her own mental health by doing something for herself, and only herself. Not only do I “approve” this type of thinking, I encourage it and recommend it wholeheartedly. I enjoyed her company a lot. This will be, soon after I have realized, a common denominator for a lot of people that I have been speaking to. They are all peace seekers. Most of them ended up in front of the wall, feeling powerless and tired of the everyday amount of bullshit in their habitat, relationships, workplace et cetera.

And I? I just wanted to experience the wilderness supreme. This first “night” gave me the idea of how awesome this place is, but I had no idea that I will leave this place completely satisfied and with my every expectation fulfilled.

  1. And she’s back… 🙂 Finally!

    • Godinu dana kasnije, nastavlja se saga o Svalbardu, eto koliko imam vremena za ono sto sam nekad najvise voljela. :)

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