The ski season in Svalbard is starting well and with the return of the light in early February there are a few hours (currently between 10:00 and 14:00) where you have relative daylight, especially on cloudless days. The sun will rise above the horizon on the 16th of February and until then we enjoy amazing blue hues and look forward to the time when the days get exponentially longer.
The recent weeks have been relatively warm and without too much wind, so the snow has been able to settle well creating a nice base layer for the season. Skiing in the last days has therefore been quite enjoyable. I took a trip last Friday with a buddy to Fardalen, which is a valley very close to Longyearbyen. We drove our snowmobiles heading South over Longyearbreen glacier and up to a saddle right before a long drop into Fardalen. The valley is quite nice when it comes to skiing and snowmobiling and the locals frequently go there to play. There are mountains all around and usually a good quantity of snow.
We drove to the valley floor and started touring up one of the East facing slopes next to the saddle. With slightly golden-lit clouds and perfect snow for skiing we cruised down the slope that was a bit over a 30° angle. Afterwards since we had already been touring and we wanted to ski a bit more it was decided to do a bit of skijoring with the snowmobiles, creating a makeshift ski lift. This way we were able to get a couple more runs in from the saddle without spending too much time touring. Snowmobile skijoring is a great way to expend remaining energy and get a great leg and forearm workout in addition to the downhill skiing.
On Saturday I also took a group of friends touring up to Trollsteinen, the local ski mountain. Now the conditions were not as favorable as the day before in Fardalen when it came to light and visibility, but the snow was still on par. It was whiteout conditions that got a bit worse as we neared the top. When we got to the top of the ridge we decided to turn back down. Skiing down in the white, where you can’t tell the difference between the ground and sky. We were able to ski down with confidence since we are quite familiar with the area and we didn’t have to worry about hitting rocks coming down as everything is now mostly snow covered. Along the way we saw many others playing on the Larsbreen glacier, a group rappeling into a meltwater channel, kids with their parents sliding down the glacier and others touring like us. Even on without days you can still play and have fun in the local area.