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Pole to Pole

Day 5: Ny Alesund to Kap Wik

King's Fiord, Norway 
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Crossing the glacier.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleOn the other side of the pass another epic wintry panorama is revealed on the shores of Engelsbukta - 'English Bay' - where an English whaling fleet under Henry Hudson took refuge in 1607 while in search of the north-east passage. Much of the bay is still frozen, and we see our first seals - nothing more than tiny black blobs - waiting beside their holes in the ice. A ptarmigan, in its white winter coat, peers curiously down at us from a pinnacle of rock, and a pair of eider ducks turn low over the bay.

We head towards a wide, level glacier passing ice cliffs of palest blue which are millions of years old and still moving. I ask Geir why they should be such a colour. Apparently it is caused by the presence of air inside the ice.

After the roller-coaster conditions on the pass, progress across the glacier is fast and reasonably comfortable. I am riding pillion behind David, and apart from nursing an occasional numbing cold in my thumb and fingers, I have plenty of time to sit back and take in the glories of this wide, unvisited landscape. A pair of Svalbard reindeer, not much bigger than large dogs, wander across a hillside. God knows what they find to eat.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 5
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: King's Fiord
  • Book page no: 19

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