SPOT 6 on a Polar Expedition to the Main Glacier on Spitsbergen Island

With a SPOT 6 mosaic, Airbus Defence and Space supported the first of the IceLegacy expeditions: the main glacier of Spitsbergen Island. From 4th to 12th August 2014, the explorers Børge Ousland and Vincent Colliard crossed the 180 km of the main glacier of the Norwegian island, on skis. Web users followed their progress live on the SPOT 6 mosaic. 

SPOT 6 Mosaic - Main Glacier on Spitsbergen Island, Norway

In supporting the first IceLegacy expedition, Airbus Defence and Space is helping to raise public awareness of the retreat of the polar glaciers and dwindling fresh water resources. The SPOT 6 mosaic accompanied the famous Norwegian explorer Børge Ousland and his partner, the Frenchman Vincent Colliard, on the main glacier of Spitsbergen Island, the world’s 13th largest ice field.

On the website, web users monitored the progress of the explorers. Texts and photos about each stage in the expedition were accessible from the SPOT 6 mosaic placed on a geo-referenced background. Airbus Defence and Space supplied this mosaic, consisting of six SPOT 6 images acquired in the winter of 2013.

The climb of the highest glacier in the Arctic began on 4th August 2014 in the north of Spitsbergen Island. On the way, the two adventurers scaled the 1713 m Mount Newton, the highest mountain in the Svalbard archipelago. They left the glacier after covering 180 km on skis, on 12th August 2014.

See the SPOT 6 mosaic of  the main glacier of Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard Archipelago, Norway

The goal of the IceLegacy project conceived by our two explorers is to promote efforts to combat glacier retreat. Their aim is to cross the world’s 20 largest glaciers on skis. This epic 10-year journey will take them from Russia to Alaska and from Patagonia to Pakistan. The next expedition will be to the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago in Russia or Ellesmere Island in Canada.

A photo presentation of the Vincent Colliard and Børge Ousland IceLegacy expedition to the Spitsbergen Island glacier

Ice Legacy 2014 - Colliard - Ousland

As far as we know no one has done this route crossing main Spitsbergen icecap and exiting down the Von Post glacier leg, but the satellite photos and waypoints were perfect. No major problems for us with the fantastic weather we had, but for the glacier it is a losing game. The glacier has retreated several hundred metresers in a few decades"

Børge Ousland and Vincent Colliard Explorers, First IceLegacy Expedition

Polar legend Børge Ousland and young adventurer Vincent Colliard have just completed the first glacier (Main Spitsbergen, 13th largest on earth) of the IceLegacy project. “Thank you to Airbus Defence and Space for their support !

Børge Ousland and Vincent Colliard  partnered  for the first time together – back in 2010 – while sailing the first circumnavigation of the North Pole and its Arctic ocean in one season. Today they unite their strength again for the IceLegacy project – crossing the 20 world largest glaciers on skis. 

Ice Legacy 2014 - Landscape

Alone in the polar vastness

"It was minus 8 degrees last night and the whole day we had a hard surface with very good glide. Sun from a blue sky and sometimes we skied in T-shirts, no wind at all. We did 36 km. It is being one of the most beautiful summer ski expeditions I have been on. Today again we met some crevasses areas but they were all snowed in and with the hard surface they were easy to cross. Even got some suntan today!" words by Børge Ousland.

Ice Legacy 2014 - Mount Newton

At the summit of Mount Newton

It is 4.00 pm. Right after pitching the tent on Veteran glacier, Børge and Vincent leave the camp in order to reach the top of Newton mountain. A few hours later – on the photo – they ski the last metres before the summit at 1713 metres. From the summit: "Today has been great, sunny and calm, after a successful climb to Newton, the highest peak on Svalbard. Great view! Mountains and glaciers all around, we could even see Nordaustlandet island in the distance” affirms Børge Ousland. 

Ice Legacy 2014 - Moraine

On the glacier moraine

"We started about nine as usual, at 600 metress, just under the cloud cover. But also today the sun shone through. We followed the moraine all the way down. It was heavy going across the uneven ice in the melted zone with lots of small streams to cross, but we found good routes" says Vincent Colliard. 

Ice Legacy 2014 - Iceberg

Adrift on an iceberg

“Doctor Ice  feels at home as soon as he has a piece of ice under his feet, he is like a polar bear!” declares Vincent Colliard about his partner and hero Børge Ousland. 

Ice Legacy 2014 - Fjord

The end of the fjord

On our way to the North, captain Nick anchored sailing boat SkyDancer in a sheltered fjord of the western part of Svalbard. Just  time for the two adventurers to go ashore, stretch their legs and enjoy the beautiful scenery…

IceLegacy - Spitsbergen Island