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Second trekking to Kongsfjorden

20th July: excursion to the top of the Olssonfjellet

In the morning we got ready as usual for the excursion. The plan was to reach the peak of one mountain with the intention of gaining the altitude of 900 metres.

As with previous climbs, we had to walk on broken, sharp stones. Astri guided us up a steep slope creating a path with her steps. I looked behind me to the valley down below: thank God I do not suffer from vertigo.

At a certain point we turned right and cut through a slope. A rock hindered our ascent and we needed to climb it. Astri went first to help us through to the other side.

The broken stones made walking very difficult. Now and again someone fell, sliding downward since the shoes did not grip too well in this terrain.

Whilst climbing the rock I got isolated from the others. In my mind I still have the image of myself hanging on the rock trying to go upward and not slide down.

“I think I am not in a good place”, I said to the English speaking guides. Cecile told me the way to follow and so, with the force of my arms I manage to reach the others.

Snow was everywhere, clouds started to obscure the sky and the winds grew stronger. All around us was white: the mountains, the land, the sea and the clouds, which engulfed everything.

All of us were well wrapped up. Only Stuart, an English guy who seemed to be made of stone, was only wearing a jumper, without a scarf, gloves or a woollen hat. He stood in the Arctic cold as if he was walking in Piccadilly Circus in winter.

The peak

Finally we got to the top. I remember the crevasses, which fell away from the path we were following. I decided not to look down whilst walking the distance which separated us from the peak.

The path ended in a sort of plateau, where we stopped. From there we could see the sharp peak of the mount later reached by Astri, Kent and Eva. I followed them for some metres. The summit was almost reached.

Below us the snowy, steep slope descended into the valley. I did not feel secure at that point because the path was thin and the wind were too strong for my 70 kilos. So, I decided to go back and reach the plateau where I had some almonds washed down with hot tea.

On our way back a long patch of snow allowed us to slide down. I was glad my snow trousers kept my buttocks warm while I was sliding down.

On reaching the valley, the weather got better and the visibility improved.

For dinner we had a warm meal: rice with mushroom and reindeer sauce. I took two plates.

That night I had to guard the camp against Polar bears from 5 to 7 a.m with Marina. We did not need to wear heavy garments since weather was good and the winds grew milder after the first half hour.

Marina stood on the hills around the camp whilst I walked to and fro on the beach and hills. Two hours of bear watching passed quickly. In accordance with the previous shift, at 6.30 I put some water to boil for the morning tea. At 7 I woke Bjorn and the others up.

Another day on Svalbard was over and a new one was about to begin.

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