In late winter/early spring 2023, in a team of 3 (Magdalena Kulinska-Niesłuchowska, Tomasz Niesłuchowski and I) we’ve completed a 14-day loop through central Spitsbergen . The goal was to circumnavigate the mountain ranges in the center of the island and reach the abandoned mining settlement of Sveagruva on the shore of Van Mijenfjorden Bay, than cross the Kjellstromdalen valley and return via a circuitous route to Longyearbyen. It was a challenging but rewarding hike and immersion into the Arctic. Our route took us through more than a dozen passes, vast valleys and the Slakbreen glacier.
We started in temperatures of -15°C and amid beautiful views in the Colesdalen and Reindalen area. More to the south, a mix of clouds and white-outs, strong frosts and winds, struggling with gale force winds in the vast valley and searching for the best passes awaited us. Despite the difficulties, Spitsbergen showed much of its beautiful face. It also showed a risky one, as the glacier and technical pass required caution and good planning. However, we chose the perfect time, avoiding the strong storms of the end of winter and hitting only a short first thaw. The route, interesting in its diversity, was a logical 160-kilometer combination of several valleys and several non-obvious passages between them.