Jan Mayen – My Trip Report – Part 3

Part 3: Other hikes on Jan Mayen

Continued from part 2 – Beerenberg

Back to the introduction

June 15 – Day 8 and moving to Båtvika

After breakfast, Richard, Denise, Tony, Jukka, Greg, Johannes and Fredrik headed out from Kvalrossbukta, aiming for Sørkapp – the very southern tip of the island – and a bunch of tops along the way. Petter, Chris and myself had volunteered to move all the bags (with help from the crew) onboard the boat, in addition to move 1000 liters of freshwater that the base so kindly had offered us. The freshwater was highly valuable as we were running short, and the freshwater generator on the boat wasn’t working.

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Organizing the move from Kvalrossbukta to Båtvika. Photo by Greg Slayden

But it takes time and effort to move 1000 liters of water from a huge tank and onto the boat’s tank, where the opening was just a few cm wide. It was a lot of work. But it got a little easier when the base crew working in the bay offered to bring the bags belonging to those on the mountain, to Båtvika. On a caterpillar. They were preparing for a landing of a ship coming in the next day. Skipper Mats also helped them by measuring the depth of the water.

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That’s CLOSE ENOUGH, Mats!!!

Earlier, Mats ran up to the nearest mountain and flew down on his speedglider. Crazy, crazy man…

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The skipper has many talents…

The sail around the south side of the island was nice. We got to see Sørkapp the easy way.

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On our way to Båtvika. The south side of the island to the left

Mats had been invited to a dinner at the base. During his stay, he communicated to the boat that the Base Commander had refused tenting in the bay. This was very confusing and disappointing news. Why did they then suggest to move our bags? We later learned that the base was not happy with the way we had left Kvalrossbukta. That was fully understandable, as we had left some rocks where the tent was. In retrospect, we should of course have left the place as we found it and there are no excuses to not do so. As such, we thought this was a “punishment“, but later communication with the base revealed that this was certainly not the case. It was all based on a misunderstanding.

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Looking back, as we’re approaching Båtvika

But nevertheless, the group on the mountain would not have a camp to return to, and we knew that they had no plans to stay on the boat, like Petter, Chris and myself chose to. Not that anyone of us had complaints about the matter. The boat crew would bring us ashore and pick us up on demand. The swaying of the boat, lying still, was not a problem. If the crew could handle it, so could we.

I spent the afternoon sweeping the deck and worrying about the aching knee. Would I be fit for hiking the next day? Jukka and Greg came down from the mountain and joined us on the boat. Greg was very disappointed about staying on the boat, but had the option to bivvu on land. He decided to stay on the boat for the night, but was not feeling well.

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Greg and Jukka, returning to the boat

Dinner this evening was pizza, served by Chris and Johannes. A welcome break from the ordinary (and fairly healthy) menu. And it was a good opportunity to make use of some of the produce that we hadn’t used so far.

Pictures from the day

 

June 16 – Day 9 and Rudolftoppen and Schiertzegga

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Today’s route

The day started out by a rumor that we were to return to Kvalrossbukta bay. Oh no! This was getting a bit ridiculous. But later on, this plan changed and it was decided that we would stay in Båtvika. Petter, Chris and I decided to go to Rudolftoppen and were sent ashore by Kjell Erik and Johannes. Greg and Jukka would go hiking later on. There was a lot of swell in the sea, and just like our Beerenberg hike, we started out 1m below sea level. When Kjell said “jump”, we jumped from the dingy and walked to the beach.

We followed the marked path from Olonkinbyen. Schiertzegga immediately top caught our attention.

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Schiertzegga – looking crazy…

Attention was then shifted to the pair of Arctic Skuas, which didn’t want us anywhere nearby their nest. The solution was: a) to put a walking stick in the air and b) simply get away from there.

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OK, OK! We get the point!

Greg had given us a waypoint that would tell us when to leave the marked path and follow a south-west course towards Rudolftoppen. As there was snow on the mountain, we could also see their tracks from the day before.

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En route to Rudolftoppen

Eventually, we rose above the fog and hiked across Blinddalstoppene, with Rudolftoppen ahead of us. What a day! I am no expert on the Jan Mayen weather, but according to a jogger from the base that we met in Kvalrossbukta, this had been the best summer in 5-7 years.

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Rudolftoppen ahead

We continued up to the top and had a “sea” of fog between us and Beerenberg. It’s another moment from this trip that I will never forget.

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On Rudolftoppen, with Beerenberg in the background

Upon our return to Båtvika, we decided to pay Midtfjellet (534m) a visit. It was a short detour from our ascent route.

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On our way up Midtfjellet

On the way down from Midtfjellet, Petter said that he was eager to explore Schiertzegga. I hadn’t even given it a thought, as I thought the mountain looked ridiculously difficult. But now that we decided to go there, I looked forward to explore the mountain.

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On our way to Schiertzegga. Holy cow!

There were so many cool lava details that I could have posted an entire album of them alone. But I have to be selective, and chose this – which reminded me to the gate to hell – if there is one…

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My take on “the gate to hell”

Schiertzegga looked in many ways like Tindhólmur on the Faroe Islands. Both looked inaccessible, but when we got on the back side of Schiertzegga, we were optimistic. There were two pinnacles and one point that Peakbook.org had as the high point. If this was true, then the summit would be a walk in the park.

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If this is the high point, we’re good…

But when we got to the easternmost top, it was clear that both pinnacles were higher.

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The two pinnacles on Schiertzegga

We went over to them, found both of them climbable, but decided on the middle one. Like always, I need some acclimatization before I begin climbing, and especially on rotten rock. But Petter went straight up and Chris followed immediately after.

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Petter and Chris on their way up the pinnacle

I watched Petter climb very carefully on the most exposed section before I decided to follow. I was happy to learn that the climb itself was fairly easy. A typical YDS class 3 climb. But both Petter and Greg (who had been here the day before) rated it YDS class 4, given the extreme location, the rock quality and the exposure. We don’t know with 100% certainty that this was the highest of the two pinnacles, but close enough for comfort. The other team had climbed both, and they helped each other up and down the westernmost pinnacle, given the loose rock. On solid rock, the climb would have been easy. On rotten rock – treacherous.

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To Båtvika, with Schiertzegga behind us

In any case, we returned to Båtvika – quite happy, and even the Skuas couldn’t even ruin the day. We met Jukka and Greg in Båtvika and we ordered “taxi” to the boat. However, Greg decided to bivvu onshore. Probably a wise decision. Johannes (crew) had discovered an adjacent mini-bay which had less swell and I named it “Jollevika“. Mats immediately adopted the name.

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Back to Valiente

Two persons from the base also waited to get onboard. Mats had asked if they could take a look at the freshwater maker. They apparently fixed it, and I looked forward to take my first shower (since I left home) the day after. In the meantime, I relaxed on the boat and enjoyed scrambled eggs for dinner.

The other group arrived at the shore after midnight. We had already communicated via satellite phone that there was no camp awaiting, so that would not come as a surprise. But they needed food and Johannes (crew) took the dingy out and brought what they had requested. I gave them the rest of my gas, hoping it would come in handy. They all bivvued by the shore that night.

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Arctic Skua (for the moment not attacking anyone…)

Pictures from the Rudolftoppen and Schiertzegga hike

 

June 17 – Day 10 – Last day on Jan Mayen, Olonkinbyen visit and 4 more tops

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Today’s hiking

We left the boat 08:30 and joined the others ashore.

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Part of the daily routine…

Mats were taking us to the souvenir shop in Olonkinbyen and wanted us to appear as one troop, in orderly fashion. I bought one woolen Jan Mayen sweater for my girlfriend and one for myself. To my delight, Anne really appreciated the sweater when I gave it to her, a week later.

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To town for shopping!

Afterwards, Petter, Chris and I headed towards Karl Stephantoppen and Luncekjegla above Olonkinbyen, both 551m. The others went different ways, all trying to “bag” as many tops as hills as possible.

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Rising above Olonkinbyen

Our hike was pretty much a long hike in the fog. It certainly helped that I had pre-downloaded the summit coordinates to my GPS. The terrain was a bit confusing, but as long as you have a direction, it all works out in the end.

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On Karl Stephantoppen

After visiting these two tops, I left Petter and Chris and headed towards Kvalrossbukta, aiming to visit both Neumayertoppen (198m) and Kvalrossen (157m) before I had to be back on the boat by 20:00. Mats had told us that anyone not present by then, would be left behind. I decided not to find out if he was serious or not, and planned my hike carefully.

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After several km on the road, Neumayertoppen comes into view

I had 5,6km to the Sørlaguna-Kvalrossbukta fork. I planned to do that distance in one hour and did it in 59 minutes. So far, on plan! Then I followed the road to Kvalrossbukta and headed up to Neumayertoppen. The time was now 3pm. 5 hours to go. Not a problem at all.

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Neumayertoppen. I ascended via the left flank – on lava/rock as much as I could.

I headed down to the road and continued towards Kvalrossen. During the ascent, I realized that off-trail hiking on Jan Mayen didn’t feel good at all. The moss was so fragile. I made my uttermost effort to walk on lava as much as possible, but stepping on moss every now and then was unavoidable. I reckoned it would take decades – for this moss to recover from my pointless intrusion. If ever at all.

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Kvalrossen – seen from Neumayertoppen

Moreover, there were birds everywhere. I assume they were nesting. I tried to act as the invisible man and hoped they would bear with me. They seemed to. There was little panic to see. Just before I reached the summit plateau, a puffin took off. This was the first time I had seen a puffin up close on this island, and I didn’t scare it away from any nest. At least, that was a tiny comfort.

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Panorama from Kvalrossen.

I descended in shame. There’s no other way to describe it. Being here was absolutely of no purpose, other than to serve my personal peakbagging goal.

Back on the road, I had 9,9km ahead of me to Båtvika. It was a fairly good distance, but by the time I reached Båtvika (17:30), I had hiked 28km this day. And 18,6km the day before. All with a bad knee. And altogether 110,4km across 5 days. Giving an avergage of 22,08km per day. No wonder I felt slimmer around the waist.

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Returning to Olonkinbyen, mindful about the signpost…

Mats picked me up in “Jollevika“, and the first thing I did on the boat was to take a shower. It will definitely rank on my top-5 shower list. Denise, Richard and Johannes arrived a bit later. Greg, Tony, Jukka and Fredrik arrived around 19:30. Everyone accounted for! Let’s go home!

Pictures from todays hikes:

 

 

Continued with: Going home!

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