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

Saturday, May 9

Adventure to Ice Cave

Isbjorn 3- Mark, Pippa, Jamie Logie, Herpreet, Sarah
Written by Sarah Phillips

We had an absolutely unforgettable day. Our leader Richard had managed to cast his mind back and relocate an untouched ice cave (0537021, 694476) just behind our camp up a steep valley. He was however concerned about the huge cornice overhanging the valley, especially since the snow was heavily piling up and the weather was vicious. So we ventured up the side of the valley in the relentless wind that tries to knock you over as you wobble and sway up the incline.

After about an hour we reached the point where we were going to be lowered down into the valley and ‘letter-posted’ into the little slot of the cave, however instead we heel-kicked our way down. We slid into the tiny gap that was barely noticeable and could easily go undetected. Once in there however, it opened up into a huge church-like cavern. It was stunning. A once running river had frozen over the slick pebbles and rocks, creating perfectly gleaming transparent steps, inviting us further into the unknown. The ceiling glistened and sparkled, secretly twinkling out of the corner of your eye. I really had the sense of the Snow Queen’s forgotten lair. You could also make out the immaculately presented layers of rock and ice, demonstrating the way the cave had formed and frozen in stages.

We excitedly ventured further in, coming across untouched beauty such as cascading water paused delicately as it splashed to the floor and fragile glass-like icicles ranging in all sizes balanced from the starry ceiling. When we stepped up and into the waiting tunnel, our cramponed feet crunched through the icy steps; the sound of breaking glass bounced off the rippled walls. At times the path ahead sneakily veered off and we discovered all kinds of secret, special nooks. At frequent intervals the roof nearly touched the floor, forcing us to belly crawl our way along the slipping glassy ground and then it would grandly open up onto a tunnel of waving walls casting a dusty rose glow streaked with iridescent ice.

We settled to do our scientific discoveries of the cave, planning to map it out by taking detailed measurements at frequent intervals along the 240m tunnel. We measured the length to the point we couldn’t squeeze through the tiny gaps anymore, even though Pip would try in vain in her over-stuffed down jacket. We eventually hope to turn our results into a 3-D model of the cave and create a task for future YEs to investigate.

When we reached the back (0537089, 8694604) our leader told us to turn off our head torches and simply appreciate the still darkness and utter silence. It was amazing; the thick pressing black and the saturated quietness reminded us of what we’ve been lacking. It is easy to forget being in such conditions, as we’ve not experienced any kind of darkness for 5 weeks or had the luxury of utter silence as there is always a wind howling or a skin on a ski humming. It was truly a special moment of meditating and appreciating these simple things. Richard reckoned there had been less people in the cave than on Everest- quite an unusual thought to be part of a minute number.
After 5 hours of hardcore science and spectacular adventure, we rugged up and braved the angry weather. We were staggered by how blustery it was outside yet we couldn’t hear a whisper in the cave, which got to a tropical +2 degrees. Richard was adamant we didn’t wait around because of the precariously balanced snow-ladened cornice. So we galloped and loped back down hurriedly in the deep snow, adrenaline pumping as we clumsily staggered past remnants of previous fresh avalanches. After a short while we reached our beloved camp and escaped the harrowing wind. All in all a magical day that can’t really be described!

Visit to an ice cave

Isbjørn explore and map an ice cave 300m long and Polarrev ski across Eskerdalen and up Juvdalen to camp. Rein and Rype go up onto Coloradoplatet to look for pink footed geese but find only 9 reindeer all day. Not surprising as the top of Coloradoplatet is covered in snow and today the strong wind, spindrift and low cloud make it an inhospitable place to be. The descent route includes 200m of step cutting in descent. Ben worked hard improving the initial steps for the rest of the group. Then Rype ski back to Base Camp to dig out tents as the weather deteriorated. Cloudy, strong easterly breeze, temperature not recorded (temperature probe in its box are under a metre of snow)

Friday, May 8

Diary Updates

Hi avid blog followers! Just to let you know, we've had diary updates from the Young Explorers sent through to the office, and we have uploaded them under the appropriate dates below for you to read.

You can spot them easily as the text is in italics - you can also view all the diary entries by clicking on 'YE Diaries' under the media heading on the right hand side. There are some new photos too - the earliest goes back to 25th April so Enjoy!

Fulmar surveys

Isbjørn pulk across the sea ice to Kapp Belvedere whilst Polarrev pulk into Trehøgddalen. Rein and Rype pulk round to the mouth of Nøisdalen, set up camp then ski up the narrow valley to make a survey of the fulmar in the amphitheatre. It is possible to go up the opposite stream bank so they are eye level with the fulmars in their holes in the cliff face. Ben and then Adrian ski back down to camp ‘skinless’ enjoying the speed, but Fay with skins on still beats them back. Clear, easterly breeze, temperature not recorded.

Photos of Rein in Nøisdalen

Nøisdalen. Helen with Adrian and James doing the fulmar survey. Photo A. Harris

Fay and Ben surveying the fulmar colony. photo A. Harris

The fulmars at home! Photo A. Harris

Thursday, May 7

Igloo building

Isbjørn spend the day digging a snow hole and building an igloo, whilst Polarrev ascend Trehøgdene. Rein and Rype pulk to the BSES hut and then most visit the snout of the calving Tunabreen before returning to the hut. Clear, easterly breeze, -5ºc.

Wednesday, May 6

Yann visits

Isbjørn turn back from the Tunabreen due to standing water and head along the north side of Tempelfjorden to camp 5km southwest of Kapp Murdoch. Polarrev carry out a recce of Trehøgddalen and return to their camp. Rein and Rype join forces and pulk to Kapp Schoultz, pausing at Villa Fredheim, an old hunters house on the way. Rein/Rype set up camp on the beach and have time to explore. Adrian enjoys finding so many fossils. Yann a YE on the 2006 Svalbard Spring exped comes out to visit by scooter, with 2 of his university friends, bringing with him ski binding parts and treats for the YEs. Rein enjoy the opportunity to talk to new people. Everyone sees the arctic fox whilst it patrols under the sea cliffs that are full of fulmars. Overcast, clearing, -5ºc.

To see more photos from Yann's visit, go to Thanks Yann!

Tuesday, May 5

Norwegian Lesson

More bear tracks

Polarrev make it to Vendomdalen and come across some old bear tracks. Rein do some local reindeer dig pit surveys and Rype tidy up Base Camp. Overcast, easterly breeze, 0ºc.

Monday, May 4


Isbjørn head off to the BSES hut on their way to study the Tunabreen, Polarrev head up Sassendalen to investigate following the Rabotbreen. Rein start their biology work from Base Camp whilst Rype tidy up for the next rubbish run out. Overcast, breeze, 0ºc.

Sunday, May 3

Raging wind!

The wind rages on as the Fires get themselves sorted out for a Fire change and prepare for their next adventure. Low cloud, snow, 0ºc.

New fires are:
Rype; Ade and Jackie.
Isbjørn; Richard, Lucy B, Herpreet, Mark, Jamie L, Sarah, Pippa.
Polarrev; Pat, Lucy D, Jo, Emily, Christian, Steve, Ash, Jaime W.
Rein; Helen, Adrian, James, Ben, Fay.