Pyramiden and Nordenskiold Glacier

 

Our second full day in Longyearbyen started with us setting off early this morning on a ten hour boat trip traveling north of Longyearbyen along the fjord to Pyramiden and Nordenskiold Glacier.

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Pyramiden is an abandoned Soviet owned coal mining town that is listed as number 7 in National Geographic’s most interesting abandoned towns – it lived up to its name. Pyramiden was started in 1927 by the Soviets and remained in operation until the early 1990’s, when, as a result of the Soviet economic collapse, coal mining ceased here. The town was completely abandoned by 1998 with everything, including a grand piano in the entertainment complex, being left behind. One of our group members played that piano during our visit. Although out of tune, the sound drifted through the hallways of the building and provided a suitable backdrop to our wandering through the echoes from a different time.

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Pyramiden was designed as a true Soviet workers town complete with residences, a gymnasium and swimming pool, a cultural and social complex, cafeteria and the requisite bust of Lenin looking over the town square towards Nordenskiold Glacier. Apparently this is the most northerly located bust of Lenin in existence. He did look a little cold.

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Our guide in the town was a wonderful young Russian man from Siberia who was full of information, articulate and a pleasure to listen to.

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After two hours in the town which went far too fast, we reboarded our boat and headed for Nordenskiold Glacier. We had an excellent reindeer stew lunch while watching the approach of the magnificent ice field.

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Our visit was highlighted by sightings of our third and fourth polar bears on this trip,

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together with the magnificent ice structures, growling and cracking in the process of calving off from the main glacier.

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Although beautiful and awe inspiring, Nordenskiold glacier is a sobering reminder of the changes that are occurring in the Arctic. Two of the photos above show a mountain in the middle of the glacier. 50 years ago that mountain was invisible (covered with ice) and scientists have measured that today the glacier extends 2 km less distance out in into the fjord.

The glorious sunset on our way home highlighted the glaciers adjacent to Adventfjord.

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The perfect end to a perfect day was a group of Minke whales that appeared to lead us home 😀😀😀

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Tomorrow is our last day here, we board our Expedition vessel tomorrow afternoon. The weather forecast is glorious!!!!!!

 

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