15-Mar-2004 -- After the successful visit to N78E16 we turned south, along Reindalen and around Høgsnipa, where we turned north into Semmeldalen ("Semmel valley"). As we drove along the regular snowmobile route, we saw lots of fresh (i.e. from the last 24 hours or so) polar bear tracks, so Einar turned off the trail for a while to check out what the bear(s) had been up to.
We didn't see any bears, but we did find the remains of a reindeer that a bear had been feeding on; only the skull & antlers, plus a pair of hoofs were left!
At this point we left the trail system for good and drove at the bottom of a small river canyon, leading towards Istjørnan ("Icy lakes"). When the canyon walls became low enough to drive up we left the river and started up towards Passdalen glacier. We knew that the point should be located near the top end of this glacier, underneath Mt Bjørnson.
On the way up we had to stop twice to dig out Einar's stuck snowmobile, and as we got up to the glacier fall and the really steep part, we left the sled behind while checking out the route, first on foot, then going up with unloaded snowmobiles, before going back down again to pick up the sled.
Driving up over the glacier we noticed that there had been several avalanches from Mt Bjørnson, but none exactly in the area of the confluence point. This meant that there was a significant risk of more avalanches in this area, so we decided that Einar would stay on the other side of the glacier, at a safe distance, while I drove to get close enough to the point, took the required photos, and then got back out again, while keeping the snowmobile running at all times.
I did as we planned, so when my GPS said that the remaining distance was 37 m, I quickly got 6 photos for a panorama view, then got back to Einar where we had our lunch break. At this time the weather had cleared up nicely, we got lots of sun, the temperature was just -3 C or so, even at an altitude of 600 m, and we had no wind at all. This is really lucky weather for Svalbard in march!
As we started back down the glacier, we suddenly met a group of four people who were having problems with their sled while trying to get up the same tricky spot. It turned out that this was four current or former students at the Longyearbyen university (Malte, Christoph, Kora & Niels) who had considered a confluence trip for a long time, then finally decided to do the very same point on exactly the same date & time as we did. Quite an amazing coincidence!
After saying goodbye to the students we started the trip to N78E14, near Barentsburg.