Hornsund, Southwest Spitsbergen

Jun 27, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer


After yesterday’s adventures at 79°57’N, today we headed down to Hornsund, or Antler Sound, the southernmost fjord in Svalbard, located in Sør-Spitsbergen National Park. The fjord was first found by an English ship in 1610 and named by Captain Jonas Poole after the crew returned from a landing with a pair of reindeer antlers.

National Geographic Explorer anchored in Treskelbukta and we took Zodiacs to go ashore for our first landing in Svalbard. The land we walked on was an old moraine belonging to Hornbreen and Storbreen. Glaciers are bodies of ice and snow which carry debris and rocks down to the sea as they are pushed by gravity. During glacier retreats, these piles of debris are left behind and become important geological references for measuring the glaciers’ maximum extent throughout different times in history.

In the afternoon we landed at Gnålodden, a little peninsula few miles west of Treskelbukta. The place takes its name for the noise of the 10,000 guillemots and kittiwakes that nest on these cliffs every year. Gnå means “nagging” in Norwegian.

We were able to stretch our legs one more time but the highlight of the afternoon was probably the visit to one of Svalbard’s best-preserved and maintained trapping huts. It belonged to Wanny Woldstad, Svalbard’s most famous female trapper.

She was as taxi driver from Tromsø and it was during her job that she heard tales of Svalbard as she drove trappers to Ølhallen, the Mack brewery’s bar. Her interest in overwintering in Svalbard while hunting for polar bears and trapping foxes grew each year until she was eventually invited to join an expedition in 1932. “In two-three days I was converted from taxi-driver in Tromsø to a female trapper on the way to Svalbard,” she wrote in her diary. Even more amazing is that she loved nature and the wilderness so much that she came back first alone and then with her sons for another five winters!

During the landing, conditions allowed our divers, Peter and Maya, to submerge themselves in the frigid waters of Hornsund. We enjoyed their dive footage during recap.

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About the Author

Stefano Pozzi

Naturalist

Stefano is originally from Italy and nature has always been the greatest of his passions. Spending time outdoors is his every-day's priority with a special devotion rock climbing during summer accompanied by ski and snowboarding during winter.

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