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07-13-2011, 08:37 AM #1Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
Pyramiden-The Skiing of a Ghost Town in the Arctic
Andrew Mclean and I went to Svalbard, Norway for Spring Break. We explored and skied by land and sea. This is part of our leg and lung powered journey around Billefjorden.
As we cautiously skied by the rusted out relics I felt like we were entering the 'Forbidden Zone' from the Planet Of The Apes .
In fact Andrew and I silently coasted through the entire town with hardly a word spoken between us. WELCOME TO PYRAMIDEN!
The Russians set up this outpost which 'thrived' during the 70's and 80's and was finally abandoned in 1998. The mining became more difficult and the costs too great. Lenin still commands watch over the central square.
This torch marked the entry to the soccer field and outdoor gymnastics apparatuses that were half buried in snow. At it's height, over 1,000 miners and family members lived, worked and played in Pyramiden.
Now it's a boarded up ghost town with a few colorful reminders of a very proud people.
Once we had set camp and were brewing up some water I broke the silence, 'This place is fucking freaking me out, but I'm really glad we are here". Andrew agreed. Not often that you find yourself camping on the back porch of the old swimming hall in an abandoned Russian coal mining town during a ski trip a few hundred miles from the North Pole.
We came to ski Pyramiden Peak and so that's what we did. The whipping winds made an interesting day out of what would have been a mellow 3,000ft climb and ski above town.
We wrapped around and found some gullies that held good snow.
The summit is guarded by 360 degrees of cliff bands. Andrew attempted to sneak up an icy tunnel, but it didn't really go and wouldn't have been ski-able.
We didn't capture much skiing since it wasn't much to write home about. Andrew shot this one of me descending the backside of Pyramiden. With the lack of skiing I'm not sure the video will make it in the upcoming movie.
The next day we climbed up onto the adjacent plateau and took in the full scale of town and Pyramiden Peak.
We took in the full scale of many views which were amazing, unlike the snow conditions. The larger peak to the left was our first descent on the trip and turned out to be the highest peak around.
The evenings entertainment was a small herd of reindeer and a shy arctic fox.
Our last day we went on a full tour of town.
We were not alone- there were 2 armed comrades who watched over the remains of town by cruising around on ATV's. They spoke no English and maybe they mentioned something about not entering any of the buildings, but with the language barrier who can be sure?
The birds have taken up residence in any available nook, cranny, or window sill. They screeched and screamed 24hrs a day. It sounded like dying babies and added to the creepy factor.
Decay, rust and the undoing of things gives me a sense of peace.
This was my favorite photo from the trip. Still seems haunted by the hundreds of men trudging a thousand feet up into the mountain each day to hammer out coal.
Eureka! What a strange and fantastic place to stumble upon. We hit the mother lode in our mining for remote turns and adventure.
Still one more installment from Norway. Next we set sail on a 65ft sailboat for accessing remote fjords and skiing first descents.
07-13-2011, 09:33 AM #2
Thats a really cool trip. Something about the Soviet logos, decaying buildings, its just really cool.
07-13-2011, 09:40 AM #3
that is so bad ass!
it might not have been the most exciting skiing but the views and the exploration factor rank high! crazy how many soviet statues and things were there for a town of 1000.
where'd you get the gun in the last picture? one of the comrades?
07-13-2011, 10:02 AM #4
07-13-2011, 10:03 AM #5
cool tr!Originally Posted by blurred
07-13-2011, 11:11 AM #6Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
Guns are required outside of town. And with 3,000 polar bears on the archipelago it's not a bad idea. We rented the heavy WWII piece of shit in Longyearben for more than the gun is worth.
07-13-2011, 11:29 AM #7
DUUUUUDE! That is badass... I can totally get the eerie feeling of silence and decay you guys were feeling through the pics... All those windows, it almost feels like there's someone watching you all the time. I love that kind of stuff, thanks for sharing. Just goes to show you that the skiing can be but a small fraction of the fascination of a trip.
Would love to see more pics too!"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise." -Robert Fritz
"The clearest indication of character is what people find laughable." - Goethe
07-13-2011, 11:48 AM #8
Mind blowing. Thanks for posting.i wish i never chose that user_name
07-13-2011, 11:52 AM #9
07-13-2011, 11:54 AM #10
BEST TR OF THE YEAR !!!"You damn colonials and your herds of tax write off dressage ponies". PNWBrit
07-13-2011, 11:57 AM #11
Really cool stuff...thanks for sharing!~!
07-13-2011, 11:58 AM #12
My avatar pic was taken in front of the Lenin bust.
Svalbard kicks ass, Pyramiden was the icing on the cake. Did not get to do a lot of skiing there, only a single mellow tour in -30 with velcro snow, as there was too much work to be done. Gotta go back some day on a skiing mission.simen (at) downskis.com DOWN SKIS
07-13-2011, 12:16 PM #13Registered User
- Join Date
- Oct 2006
such a cool placeI can't believe you are a rando racer because I look so much better in Lycra than you.
People who don't think the Earth is flat haven't skied Vail.
07-13-2011, 01:15 PM #14
The two misfits got kicked out of class, and were left outside to eat lunch alone.
07-13-2011, 06:30 PM #153 bean salad
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
- Wasatch Front
wait...let me get this straight..lots of empty BRICK buildings, reindeer, birds, coal, guns, skiing, sun all day all summer...did i miss anything? sounds like a ski bum paradise! heil leninski!
07-14-2011, 01:47 AM #16Mike Pow
- Join Date
- Apr 2005
- Between a rock and a soft place. Aberdare and The Brecon Beacons, Wales
Fabulous. More of the same please
07-14-2011, 08:49 AM #17
The town reminds me of what congress is try real hard to accomplish.Johnny's only sin was dispair
07-14-2011, 09:07 AM #18
07-14-2011, 09:53 AM #19
Nice photos there Noah! They brought back memories of screaming birds and surly comrades.
One of my fav's (and now my desktop) - Noah in the needle with Pyramiden below.
One of an Arctic fox in the midst of changing over from winter white to summer black:
And one of Noah in front of a sketchy building, in front of Pyramiden Peak.
Svalbard is a fascinating and very trippy place that makes you constantly wonder "Now, what's the deal here..?" It is controlled by Norway, but you have to technically leave Norway and then check back into... Norway to get there. Same on the way out. There are all sorts of rules & regulations, but it is unclear who actually enforces them, if anyone. It is a pristine place that is also the snowmobile capital of Europe. Polar Bears are a major concern, but they are rarely seen. It is open to any of the parties who signed the 1920 Svalbard Treaty, of which the Russians were not privy to, yet they are one of the bigger influences on the island.
After visiting Pyramiden, I was reading up on it and two of the on-going Russian business concerns there are building salvage and tourism. This means that one company is gutting the buildings as much as possible, while the other wants them standing just enough to be tourist attractions. When you add in the Arctic weather and fact that the buildings were all built on piers to begin with, you end up with some VERY sketchy structures nowadays. They are like mine shafts with all of the bracing removed.
As first timers, I think we overpaid by about 100%, but if I was to go back (or if anyone is interested in going there), it can be done for a fairly reasonable price, or at least at a good value.
07-14-2011, 02:09 PM #20
Great stuff! ThanksDrive slow, homie.
07-14-2011, 02:37 PM #21
Wow, yet another ski town with a scarcity of women! What is it with this sport??!!
Very cool pics!Wag more, bark less
07-14-2011, 02:37 PM #22
AWESOME! Thanks for sharing.
07-15-2011, 10:50 AM #23
You should have pointed the rifle towards the ruskis and shouted "Ruski tovarich ,ruki vvher!" and see if you could have started the WW III.
The floggings will continue until morale improves.
07-17-2011, 09:30 PM #24
07-17-2011, 10:12 PM #25
Thanks for sharing Noah and Andrew this extraordinarily weird ski porn. I freaking love it.