Saturday, July 9th 2016

The problem for the independent traveller in Svalbard is that it is crawling with polar bears. That's a bit of an exaggeration but there are enough of them there that you have to be prepared to encounter one at any time. By law, you have to be armed, or with someone who is armed, when you're outside Longyearbyen. I wasn't into the idea of learning how to use a weapon to the proficiency I'd need to have a chance against an angry bear, so I was limited to trips with groups.

So I'd rather have been on my own when I headed to Trollsteinen, but I was with a small group of hikers, led by a guide and a husky. We drove up the valley that Longyearbyen sits in, and headed up scree slopes to one of the glaciers that sits above the town. The hike was mostly straightforward, and would have been all straightforward if it had been a bit colder, but the glacier surface was slushy and soft, and slogging through the ankle-deep icy water was a bit tiring.

On the other side, the trail steepened, and we ascended rapidly to a ridge that let to the top of Trollsteinen.

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