When we received this letter from Nicole and Roger telling their tale of adventure inspired by a spontaneous decision to trek in the backcountry of Svalbard with their dog Zorro, the first thing we had to do is look up where Svalbard is! It happens to be an archipelago in the Arctic sea about halfway between Norway and the North Pole. The images they shared told stories of awe inspiring wilderness landscapes, harsh environmental elements and the constant reminder to stop and enjoy the small things – a lesson always taught when in the presence of a dog. Thank you to Roger and Nicole for sharing their story with all of us and inspiring a life of adventure shared with their loyal sidekick Zorro!
While visiting Tromsø, the last biggest city in northern Norway, we decided spontaneously to go on a trip to Svalbard with our dog Zorro.
The island Svalbard is located only around 1,300 km (1,000 Miles) from the North Pole.
For the 90 minute flight to Longyearbyen, the main town of Svalbard, we had to organize a transport box for Zorro, which we found on a Husky farm. Fortunately, all the vaccinations of Zorro were ok and we could bring him to Svalbard without any other problems. The unusual flight in the cargo bay survived Zorro well, but he was very delighted to be released from his transport box.
Svalbard is quite a nice place. The weather, just as unpredictable as on the mainland during the summer, is only a few degrees colder. The rare period of fine weather must be used extensively and intensely and everything must be ready for a trip into the wilderness once the sun comes out.
Outside of Longyearbyen, which is located at the latitude of 78, one is always armed because of the polar bears. During the summer season, when food is scarce, no one knows exactly where they are. Today, most of the coal mines, the reason of the early development of Svalbard, are no longer in operation.
We did not have any polar experience, but are experienced and well equipped climbers mountaineers, and have climbed various difficult mountains in the Alps with Zorro (www.zorro.li/gipfelliste.html). Even Zorro is well equipped and accustomed to carry his Approach Pack for long hours and to spend the night in the tent.
First we did a day hike with light packs to get to know the polar characteristics with its pathless terrain and to do a crash course with the rifle.
With a little bit of a queasy feeling, have we thought of everything, we went on our first multi-day tour. In contrast to Central Europe, the communication outside of Longyearbyen is very much limited and only 2m-radios and Iridium satellite telephones functioned tolerably.
The topographic maps of Svalbard are very helpful for the planning of the hikes.
But even with the maps the own intuition of route finding is very important since there are no ways or bridges to cross the many rivers and its arms.
During the summer months it is bright 24 hours and you need not worry about getting lost in the dark.
After 10 days we landed happily and tired, with two long tours in our luggage, in Tromsø, from where other adventures were awaiting us.
To see the full photo gallery from the trip visit http://www.zorro.li/fotos/Spitzbergen/