With insulated snowsuit, boots, balaclava and crash helmet our small posse left the Trappers Hotel in Longyearbyen at 9.30am as the early rays of the sun we would never see, lit the horizon. A day of exhilaration on Skidoos, 60 miles, through a landscape of barren mountains starkly white in the bluish light. Hugging valley floors, twisting through gullies, across frozen lakes, steep climb up onto glaciers and then the descent. By 3.30 it was dark again. Our destination – Isfjord Radio station, adorned with tall masts, it once the only means of communication with the mainland but
now transformed into a surprisingly comfortable hotel.
A slightly longer coastal route, hoping for a sight of the elusive polar bear, took us back to Longyearbyen for another night at the Trappers Hotel and dinner in Spitsbergen’s answer to The Ivy. Did I have my camera as the Northern Lights made their appearance? No, but perhaps my mesmerisation would have put paid to a decent photograph anyway. Truly, spectacularly, unashamedly, beautiful. No adjective really does this spectacle the credit it deserves. Worth going all the way to Spitsbergen just for that.
Could dog sledding come close to the experience? Nearly. After a morning of mushing guiding my six dogs along a valley floor – (well truthfully they simply follow the sledge in front!) I don’t really care if I never see another Skidoo, but two or three days with the dogs would be sensational.
I genuinely long to go back and explore further.