BSES HQ receives expedition field updates weekly so check back every Monday to see what has happened in the week gone by.

Saturday, May 2

Isbjorn Diary - by Ash Sethia

"We awoke from a great night’s sleep to face the Storgjelet gorge which turned out to be the most amazing storybook gorge filled with fulmars and cornices high above us.
We encountered a fresh avalanche debris field that afternoon, so spades came out and we cut a path through so we could haul the pulks over.
We eventually reached the end of the gorge and the weather deteriorated to white out conditions for our crossing of the Sassendalen. Despite the almost horizontal snow and the battering from the wind we finally made it back to camp a few kilometres of trekking later and made up our well earned dinners."

Getting Breezy

Rype arrive at Base Camp in time for elevensies and tidy up before the Fires arrive. Polarrev arrive at Base Camp at around lunchtime and settle in as the wind begins to gather. Overcast, strong easterly breeze, -6ºc.

Polarrev Diary - by Sarah Phillips

"A wonderfully short day, we only had 4km to travel back to Base-Camp 2, and an added bonus was we had a blissful lie-in until 9am! It took us roughly 2 hours to get back to base camp, tackling a final long slog up to the camp with Pippa herding us up. With sighs of relief we came to the comforting sight of 2 inviting Tentipis, and not a moment too soon as the wind quickly became impossibly mischievous and difficult to function. It may not let up for a couple of days yet!"

Friday, May 1

Isbjorn Diary - by Ash Sethia

"After abandoning our tunnelling masterpiece in the morning we skied down the rest of the Nøisdalen ( with some difficulty) and discovered that digging all day really does take it out of you.
Having made that discovery we decided to make a camp quite early and spend the rest of the day relaxing and repairing various bits of kit."

Off the Glacier

After one final difficult glacier section Isbjørn take an easy ski down into Nøisdalen and stop there for the night. Polarrev continue and stop at the end of Deltadalen and Rype visit the snout of the Tunabreen glacier before setting off home and stopping at Schoultzhamna. Still, overcast, temperature not recorded.

Polarrev Diary - by Sarah Phillips

"We left at 10am and pulked along the flat river bed, trying to avoid the mouth of the river incase it had begun melting in the past few days with temperatures getting as high as a tropical -5 degrees. The weather was still not cooperating however, and instead presented a very overcast and thickly clouded day. This made it extremely difficult to determine what was under-foot and there was disappointingly no scenery to gaze at since we were faced with walls of grey and white.
After a quick lunch the wind picked up again, but luckily no spindrift followed. It did however make deciding where to camp a frustratingly strategic one since the wind was forcing us to make a quick camp but avoid any wind-tunnels or exposed grounds. Finally Adrian found a perfect little sheltered valley (054305, 869205) to thankfully escaping the bullying wind after pulking a huge 20km."

Thursday, April 30

Isbjorn Diary - by Ash Sethia

"This ‘rest day’ was spent doing the hardest digging that we could possibly do – we dug an 8 man snow hole into snow that was so hard that at some points the snow saw could not even be pushed in (so we made do with brute force and determination).
Anyway everyone pitched in to help with the prospect of after 7 hours of digging (and learning how to glissade down the steep slope that the hole was dug into) it was complete!
So that night we ( all the YEs) went to sleep in the snow hole which was surprisingly warm and draught free which made for a good night’s sleep."

Snow Holing

Isbjørn spend the day digging the snowhole that they intend to sleep in tonight. Polarrev continue towards Base Camp this time stopping at the confluence of Fulmardalen and Sassendalen. Rype visit Fredheim then continue on to the “BSES” hut. Westerly breeze, clear with hill top cloud, temperature not recorded.

Polarrev Diary - by Sarah Phillips

"After a bitterly windy night, we left camp to progress further towards Fulmadalen. The wind was still angrily nipping at us and we had to rug up well, trying desperately not to expose and skin to the unforgiving wind.
The journey was fairly simple as we rarely strayed from the skidoo tracks across the flat terrain. Ben suggested we camp at 1630 at the junction where Sassendalen meets Fulmadalen (056076, 868732) as many of us needed an early day since the wind really saps a lot of energy out of you."

Wednesday, April 29

Isbjorn Diary - by Ash Sethia

"We awoke to the sound of pans being banged together by a frustrated Fire Leader, after all the alarm clocks had failed in their duty that morning (especially after the previous day).
Anyway after a rapid tent poles down and pulk packing session we were ready to attempt an even longer day at a lovely -10º c. We cut the corner of Maritbreen roped up again, which was an interesting crevasse crossing exercise. Herpreet even managed to fall but she was caught by the rope she still had a smile on her face!.
The rest of the day was spent hauling pulks up- the 700m onto the Fimbulisen Plateau, at which point the weather closed in. We eventually went down the glacier on skis with difficulty and made camp."

Rubbish Removal

Isbjørn move over some difficult ground to Nisjakollen whilst Polarrev move homewards, stopping at the head of Fulmardalen. Rype take a quick ski up and down Sassendalen then await the “rubbish removal skidoo”. Overcast becoming cloudy, wind from the east, light snow, -10ºc.

Polarrev Diary - by Sarah Phillips

Polarrev pulking in the storm on the way out to the east coast. 28.4.09 – photo Mark Kittle

"We left our camp with Sarah leading (057968, 866731) at a very reasonable time of 9.50am, which is a first. The starting 10km was completely flat. We were surrounded by the mosaic repetition of snow-capped mountains sprinkled with chocolate as the first signs of dirt start to make an appearance with the snow melting early. Sometimes there was an interruption of a steeply sloping wet glacier, and the ground presented glimpses of turquoise glowing ice as the water underneath begins to melt and swell.
We eventually hit a skidoo track heading to the far right of the distant moraines that we were destined for, just as the sun became shrouded in cloud. Following this track we eventually entered the moraine field (057314, 867421) and faced 5 consecutive climbs."

Climbing a moraine hill 29.4.09 – photo Mark Kittle
"On reaching a glacier (057144, 867585) the group roped up in threes, with Mark lending his mountaineering expertise to speed up the process. Crossing the glacier was made very difficult by these ropes, especially with skis and pulks as you have to maintain an appropriate distance between each pulker so that the rope is just gently grazing the floor, but not so that you are being pulled along (if only!) Unfortunately for some, their pulks were not quite as cooperative and James had to consistently tend his mischievous pulk. It was a quick crossing and we were on the other side (057022, 867628) in no time. As we un-roped we noticed that the glacier we had crossed was in fact split at the end."
"This decoupled glacier exposed a striking cobalt blue ice face and was carving into a frozen lake, suggesting that an invading underwater stream had caused the unusual glacial separation (0570214, 8676280)."

The group having a break – photo Mark Kittle
"We still had to dip and twist our way through the moraines on the other side. At one point some of us were forced to pulk on foot as the steep and long scramble got the better of our skis. Luckily those of us longer-legged members, such as Jamie Logie and James, were able to heroically help the others drag their pulks up.
Eventually we settled into camp, tucking right (056980, 867720) after the moraines onto a fairly flat plot after a long day of 15km."

Tuesday, April 28

Isbjorn Diary - by Ash Sethia

"The next morning we made our way up to our ice climbing ‘venue’ and had a great new experience on an 25m glacial ice climb – something that most of us had never done before.
The afternoon was then spent pulking across the rest of the Von Postbreen to the Maritbreen, uphill all the way and in crampons at -14º C so it was pretty hard going.
So after that sort of day we were all pretty tired, set up camp and slept well until the morning."

Governor Visit

Isbjørn spend the morning climbing ice on the Von Postbreen and then continue up the glacier to camp. Polarrev move their camp down Argabhdalen and then continue, lightweight, to the coast and return to their camp – they are visited by the Sysselmannen, the governors of Svalbard, who report no local polar bears. Rype return to Base Camp. Very light breeze, clear, -14º.

Monday, April 27

Isbjorn Diary - by Ash Sethia

Isbjørn in front of the Tunabreen Photo Jo Jones
"We left the hut a little late (1200) after developing quite an attachment to the comforts it provided – and set off for the Tunabreen carving glacier.

We arrived at the glacier and apart form taking large numbers of posed photos, spent a long time having a laugh with the echoes that can come from shouting at a glacier. Once again we saw quite a few bear prints on the ice but wherever the bears were they were long gone. For the rest of the afternoon we crossed onto the Von Postbreen, across an uncharted frozen lake (which provided running water for the first time!). From there we made our way up the glacier to camp on the moraine west of the Hampusfjellet – so an interesting 8 hr day, once again with great weather."


Isbjørn visit the calving snout of the Tunabreen then move up onto the Von Postbreen, camping on medial moraines. Polarrev continue, this time camping in Argabhdalen, whilst Rype survey the cliffs of Diabasodden and Grønsteinfjellet and stop at Elveneset. Still, clear, temperature not recorded.

Sunday, April 26

Isbjorn Diary - by Ash Sethia

Isbjørn at the ‘BSES’ hut photo Joe Jones
"Leaving camp behind us Isbjørn were excited to be making our way to the legendary BSES hut. To get there we made our way back across Tempelfjorden on yet another bright sunny day, arriving around 1500 for a snow filled hut perched on the edge of a big pile of moraine. After the initial excitement of having four walls and a roof again the digging began and promptly stopped again when we discovered that the last resident had in fact been a polar bear (there were prints on the beds).
After we got over that fact we finally finished clearing out and repairing the hut and enjoyed the rest of the day on the roof relaxing. The evening was spent round a warming fire and after a game of poker round the table we all went to sleep in the hut."

Re-discovering the old BSES Hut

Isbjørn come back across Sassenfjorden and take up residence in the “BSES” hut, which they have to dig out. Polarrev continue their journey to the east coast, stopping in Fulmardalen. Rype take the generator to Base Camp 3 at Wimandalen and stay there for the night. Still, clear, temperature not recorded.