Sometime during the Winter of 1975 a group of Mountain Rescue personel sat under an emergency shelter on the top of Kinder Scout in the Peak District of Derbyshire discussing forthcoming holidays, whilst outside the wind shrieked and flurries of snow hurled themselves across the moors. Since some of those present did not relish the thought of a hot parched stretch on a baking beach one wag suggested that they ‘might just prefer to go to the Arctic instead’. It was out of this suggestion that I was first invited to go to Spitsbergen as a surveyor on an Expedition in 1977. I found the landscape captivating, the glaciers, the flora, the fauna dynamic, in fact the whole package was a complete success. It is easy to become sold on the Arctic. Since those early days I have made a total of thirteen trips – including one to Alaska. The remainder being to various corners of Spitsbergen. I hope never to tire of witnessing the variety and splendour of this region and for this reason alone have chosen once again to return to Svalbard.
This time we have chosen Bockfjord, one of the most Northerly and remote areas in which to operate and one that contains a great deal of interest, both scientific and general.
The hot springs that are present combined with the extinct volcano and the closeness of Monacobre – a large glacier that surged in the mid 1990’s – allow a variety of projects to be undertaken within a relatively close area, thus guaranteeing that, in the event of a total loss of one single project, the entire expedition would be neither compromised nor jeopardised.
The ever-present dangers, from both the natural environment and the inherent and latent dangers from wildlife, will always make a visit to these regions both special and serious. However, these are more than compensated for by the rewards available in spades from the harsh beauty of this area. These regions can be quite breathtakingly beautiful. Sadly, if we want things to stay as they are, things are really going to have to change. Let us hope that future generations will have the opportunity to see and think the same way.
Ian Frearson FRGS
Group Leader ARG