Letters from High Latitudes, Lord Dufferin
“A few minutes more, and slowly, silently, in a manner you could take no count of, its dusky hem first deepened to a violet tinge, then gradually lifting, displayed a long line of coast—in reality but the roots of Beerenberg—dyed of the darkest purple; while, obedient to a common impulse, the clouds that wrapped its summit gently disengaged themselves, and left the mountain standing in all the magnificence of his 6,870 feet, girdled by a single zone of pearly vapour, from underneath whose floating folds seven enormous glaciers rolled down into the sea! Nature seemed to have turned scene-shifter, so artfully were the phases of this glorious spectacle successively developed.”
Jan Mayen is an arctic island, around 150 square miles and made of volcanic rock. Beerenberg dominates the north of the island; an active stratovolcano, subaerial volcano. The last eruption was documented in 1980, and this is what we hope to climb on the first Integrity expedition.
The island belongs to Norway, and has been designated as a nature reserve. The objective of the Jan Mayen nature reserve is to conserve a near-pristine arctic island and its adjacent sea areas including the ocean floor, with a distinctive landscape, active volcanic system, special flora and fauna and cultural remains, including securing:
- the island’s grand and unique landscape
- the island’s distinctive volcanic rock types and landforms
- the island as a very important habitat for seabirds
- the close relationship between life in the sea and on land
- the distinctive ecology of isolated islands
- the historical perspective that remains from all major eras in Jan Mayen’s history represents
- the island and adjacent marine areas as a reference area for research
On 14 May 2019, we head to Husavik, on the north coast of Iceland where Integrity is currently berthed to start our first adventure. As well as loading Integrity, we need to carry out a final sea trial at Leirhofn, including man overboard drills and checking the compass before setting out for Jan Mayen.
Jan Mayen should be in sight after two days at sea, and depending on the weather the crew will sail anti-clockwise around the island to see Beerenberg and the Weyprecht Glacier. Although unlikely, Will is keen to spot the figurehead reputedly left by Lord Dufferin on the north east of the island in 1856.
Integrity will anchor at Kvalrossbukta, one of only two areas where landing is permitted, and Will, Paul and Justin will go ashore to prepare for the Beerenberg climb. They face a 9km walk to Olonkin city, where they will receive a security and safety briefing from the Norwegian military, who operate the island.