Hike to Platafjellet...

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
Trip End Jul 07, 2006

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Monday, July 3, 2006

My last full day in Svalbard was less hectic than the previous ones, although it began with a strenuous climb up to Platafjellet (500m) that provided yet more great views of Longyearbyen and the surrounding mountains. There was just one other Norwegian couple doing the walk with me, plus the guide of course, so once again it was a nice small group.

It took about an hour and a half to reach the summit as we stopped for breathers, and the guide gave us information about the area. It seems that everywhere you go there is a polar bear anecdote to be heard, and sure enough the guide described how two Swedish girls were trapped at the top of this mountain in the summer of 1996 by a young polar bear. Now if polar bears are in this region in summer, they are basically lost because they should be further north where the ice and seals are. This one was particularly hungry and one of the girls suffered as a result, while the other one jumped over the edge and escaped with a few broken bones. Scarey stuff...

At the summit we had coffee and biscuits, though I was amazed at how quickly my coffee went cold! We then proceeded to head back down the steep track, and were back at the van a mere 3 hours after we'd started. It was a nice short walk and the breeze certainly put some colour in my cheeks.

For the first time since my arrival I had a free afternoon, so I spent a couple of hours in the superb museum near the harbour. It featured interesting sections on such things as glaciers, mining, and the events in Svalbard during World War 2. I timed it to perfection in truth, as I was just finishing when a bus load of old English codgers arrived fresh off the cruise ship. I've nothing against cruises of this kind, but some of the comments I heard were ridiculous. "Are we in Spitsbergen now?" asked one old woman. "Where is Svalbard?" asked another, as she browsed through the postcards. I think a bit of research could be in order for future trips...

I couldn't resist a walk to the edge of town after visiting the museum, as I really wanted to get a photograph of the polar bear road sign before I left. I'd not seen a real one during my short stay, but just knowing that there was a possibility was exciting enough, and I definitely want to return within the next 4 or 5 years to experience the winter here...then I'll have more chance of meeting the great isbjorn.

I browsed through the souvenir shops on my way back to the guesthouse and bought a few little mementos, before getting an early night ahead of a busy day that will see me return to the altogether warmer climate of Oslo in the south of Norway...
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globerat on

Hike to Platåfjellet (Platou mountain)
Liked your writing about Svalbard, but as a veteran of 16 times up there let me correct you on the above article.

A week before easter 1995 two Norwegian students went up hiking on the 'Platåfjellet'. They were unarmed which was extremely dangerous as polarbears are everywhere up on Svalbard. They were approached by a two year polarbear (young and hungry)weighing not more than 80 kg, but powerful claws.

The polar bear choosed one of the girls, attacked her while the other managed to escare.

Unfortunately the student that was attacked, died.

This should prove that walking outside the settlement without having weapon to protect you is dangerous.

I have during my 16 times on Svalbard been all over, seen all the animals up there, on land and in the sea. After visiting over 70 countries, there is no place like Svalbard. Regards from Globerat.

Norm on

Sounds like a great trip. Pity about the derogatory remarks about older people. You will be one of that group all too soon.

O Bastow on

It's great to read anyones memories of Svalbard. Only been 3 times but loved every trip. OAPs can read maps and don't all go on cruises. My second trip was a solo one and I went god sledding!

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