PointedPeaks Camp - Trygghamna/Isfjord, Spitsbergen

Alkhornet - one of the most spectacular birdcliffs of Spitsbergen, marking at the same time the entrance of Icefjord. Even from a distance, the intense green under the nesting cliff is easy to see.
At Selmanneset, Värmlandryggen with its remarkable upright standing sediment layers terminates into Isfjord.
Above: View from the Kjerulf Glacier moraine onto the camp surroundings and lower Värmlandryggen. . Right: From the air, the upright standing rock layers of Värmlandryggen are especially obvious.
The combination of fjord, glaciers and wild alpine peaks is a spectacular example for the west coast landscape, which gave reason to the name Spitsbergen ("Pointed Peaks").
Rest on some driftwood logs at the camp, with the impressive background scenery of Trygghamna.

The surroundings of the PointedPeaks Camp make it easy to understand what made Willem Barents in 1596 to call the newly discovered land "Spitsbergen" ("Pointed Peaks"), having seen only the dramatic alpine scenery of its west coast. Situated on the north side of the entrance of the mighty Icefjord, the narrow bay Trygghamna (Safe Harbour) indents about 3 km into the glaciated mountains of Oscar II Land, part of a national park. On both sides, the bay is framed by spectacular mountain ranges: alpine peaks with cascading glaciers to the west, and to the east the geologically fascinating Värmlandryggen with its upright folded sediment layers, looking like the rugged spine of some saurus and ending in some rock formations looking like a castle ruin. At its innermost, northern end, Trygghamna ends in the Kjerulfbreen (Kjerulf Glacier), the western part of which still terminates into the bay with a calving ice wall, while the eastern part flattens out smoothly, inviting to easys glacier hikes into the hinterland.

With its wild alpine scenery, the PointedPeaks Camp is scenerywise a great supplement to programs in inner Icefjord and Longyearbyen, where the landscape is more dominated by plateau-type mountains.

Apart from its dramatic scenery, Trygghamna hosts touching fragile traces of earlier human activity: scanty remains of old whaling and walrus hunt and witnesses from the time of russian and scandinavian trappers.

Exciting are also details of the surrounding nature:
Geologically,
 the tertiary folding along the west coast has not only created a dramatic scenery, but allows to hike within a few kilometres across the sediments and metamorphic rocks of some hundred millions of years from Triassic to crystalline basement, including a variety of marine fossils (observe restrictions on collection in national park).
Alkhornet on the west side of the entrance of Trygghamna is one of the most spectacular bird cliffs in Icefjord (primarily guillemots, black guillemots, kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, puffins, little auks), and the masses of breeding birds provide fertilizer for an affluent green tundra vegetation, feeding geese and reindeer, while foxes and skuas look out for easy prey.

Season: Until beginning of July, Trygghamna is often still partly full of winter ice, possibly limiting access by boat. Until then, snow on lower Kjerulf Glacier and in the terrain may also limit excursions somewhat. July is the best month regarding still high activity in the bird cliffs, with still high midnight sun and florishing vegetation. August and September are great for hikes with less snow and water around in the terrain, and a growing range of colours as the sun gradually comes lower at night pleases photographers. With the sun setting from mid-August onwards, dawn adds further variations of light conditions.

Equipment: In its standard version, the camp is equipped with spacious conic cotton tents (mid height 2.6m, ground diameter 4-5m, the natural fiber provides very good permeability for humidity from inside - even cooking inside the tent causes hardly any condensation problems) and basic but very reliable stoves (red spirit). For safety reasons (storm, polar bears), the camp is not standing empty between groups but will be set up by an arriving group and taken down with its departure. Insulation mats lent out to participants in Longyearbyen to be taken along to the camp, and back again. For special arrangements, further camp equipment can be discussed.

Technical Informations: In addition to normal hiking gear (including high rubber boots, also for landing/departing by boat), hiking boots for the PointedPeaks Camp should be approved for crampon use and light crampons fitting your boots should be brought along for tours on glacier ice.
In Trygghamna, GSM cellphones usually can be used. 
The preferred method for polar bear safety in the camp is night watch in shifts by all participants and guide(s), which works fine from about 5 persons upwards regarding sufficient time available for sleep (gun always with the guide(s)). With smaller groups, night watch costs more sleep - then we can resort to a tripwire alarm system.

Restrictions: Until late June, sometimes into early July, the camp access may be still blocked by winter ice. Furthermore - though rare (happening not every summer) - drift-ice fields taken around Spitsbergen by currents and wind can sometimes block Trygghamna temporarily also in other parts of summer. Trygghamna is a narrow and thereby fairly sheltered bay. However, unsuitable wind/swell/ice or also a polar bear on the beach can sometimes impede or even temporarily prevent landings and/or boat transfers. Such natural causes can require landing or pickup at spots more distant from the camp or may even lead to changes in tour schedule (delayed dropping or pickup, in extreme situations other camp). These restrictions are not unique for Trygghamna only, but can be relevant for all wilderness landings and pickups in Spitsbergen. One of the reasons for picking this camp location is that such hindrances are not very common there, but flexibility and adapting to nature is a prerequisite when travelling to such regions.

More detailed reading on the wilderness camps of Spitsbergen Tours:  » Wildnis-Zeltcamps in Spitzbergen (currently available in German, only, until English version is finished, please try an automatic translation, for instance with the Google translation function).

The PointedPeaks Camp is run by Spitsbergen Tours for regular arrangements in July and August (extendable for special arrangements into September and - with the above mentioned restrictions - also into June), and is used for the following regular arrangements:
(if any of the following links still leads to a non-english subpage or document, please try an automatic translation, for instance with the translation function of Google, as long as no english version is available here)
Versions of » Icefjord - Boat, Hiking and Trekking,
• First part of » Circling Icefjord
(possibly separate camp for this program nearby)
Combinations of » settlement-based programs and PointedPeaks Camp
 Other » Special arrangements based on customer interests.


Last Modification: 23.02.2012