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the Degree Confluence Project
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Svalbard

19.2 km (11.9 miles) ESE of Barentsburg, Svalbard
Approx. altitude: 567 m (1860 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 78°S 165°W

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: The view towards 78N15E with tracks from Terje and Einar #3: View to the west #4: View to the south #5: View to the northeast with Niels #6: The position as good as possible (78° 00' 00.0'' N 15 ° 00' 00.2'') #7: The team : Niels, Christoph, Kora and Malte

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  78°N 15°E (visit #2)  

#1: View to the north

(visited by Niels v. Festenberg, Christoph Thien, Malte Jochmann and Kora Keller)

15-Mar-2004 -- Due to the weather and seasonal conditions on Svalbard there are just about a hundred days per year where this point is accessible. Considering the light conditions on 78° north it seems reasonable to assume in average 16 hours per day as possible visiting windows within those 100 days . In March 2004 about five years have passed since the beginning of the epidemic of confluenza. That makes ca. 8000 hours for possible visits. The geography of the glacier Passfjellbreen where the point is situated requires a staying duration of about one hour in the vicinity. Therefore one visiting team could be met there with a probablity of 1/8000 during the last five years. I.e. the probability of this occuring was negligible.

Anyway on March 15th 2004 it was exactly this incredible event that became reality. In the morning Kora, Malte, Christoph and me unsuspectingly set out across the snow covered tundra of Svalbard to accomplish our first confluence point, departing from the foggy valley of Longyearbyen.

On the way there we had already met a quite funny polar bear. Its track went parallel to a slope and every now and then it was interrupted by downhill sliding tracks sometimes a hundred metres long. Somehow, we couldn't imagine that it had done this for any other reason but just for fun. When it spotted us, it fled uphill, this so called ursus maritimus. Probably to go skiing again ;-). At least it didn't want to eat us. Anyway, the weather conditions improved constantly.

When we finally arrived at the bottom of Passfjellbreen we slowly understood that there was already some human activity on the glacier. While digging out a sledge that had gotten stuck in the deep snow we met those people and our worst nightmares became true: Terje and Einar had taken the point before us, just half an hour ago.

After some minutes of hysterical laughter of a mixture of disappointment and surprise we decided to continue, since Terje and Einar didn't get any closer than 35 metres.

In brilliant sunshine we arrived at 78° N 15° E. We decided to walk there just two by two since the slope behind the point looked quite likely to comprise more than enough snow to bury us. The GPS-picture needed some digital polishing later, it was just a bit too scary with those avalanches.

However, no avalanches came down to cover us, so we could take the pictures and had some extremely delicious Zywiec- and Tyskie-beer from Poland to celebrate the point (the indispensable bottle of Bavarian Augustiner didn't make that far, unfortunately).

With mixed feelings we left heading for the great calving front of Fridtjovbreen.


 All pictures
#1: View to the north
#2: The view towards 78N15E with tracks from Terje and Einar
#3: View to the west
#4: View to the south
#5: View to the northeast with Niels
#6: The position as good as possible (78° 00' 00.0'' N 15 ° 00' 00.2'')
#7: The team : Niels, Christoph, Kora and Malte
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)