In March of 2019 I lead two back-to-back small group expeditions via snowmobile in Svalbard in search of winter landscapes, Arctic Fox, Reindeer and the mighty Polar Bear. I have been exploring Svalbard by snowmobile in winter for quite a few years now and have to come to absolutely love both the intimacy and solitude of being out in the freezing winter and at one with Nature and the incredible wildlife that survives in this hostile environment. The Arctic in winter is truly another world and for those that are willing to make the effort, and brave the elements the rewards are simply life-changing.
The weather during our expeditions was generally superb with cold clear days that were on the whole predominantly wind free. Only on few occasions did we experience true white out conditions whilst crossing some of the glaciers of Svalbard. Conditions can vary wildly and quickly in the Arctic in Winter. It is almost a given that one will loose a day or two to bad weather during any winter expedition. I am pleased to say though that at no time did we loose any time to weather during either of the two expeditions. In fact, we were able on several occasions to take advantage of weather to really enhance the mood and drama of our photographs. Blowing snow is a wonderful addition to any winter wildlife photograph and we took advantage of it whenever the prevailing conditions allowed. The white on white canvas of the Arctic in winter in near white-out conditions is highly fertile material for simple, powerful and emotive photography.
During both expeditions we had fantastic encounters with Polar Bear, Reindeer and Arctic Fox. In total I counted fifteen Polar Bear sightings this year that included several photo bears that provided outstanding opportunities on the frozen sea ice. Encounters with Polar Bears are rare (even in the summer months) so it was fantastic to have such wonderful opportunities during these expeditions. Our encounters with Arctic Fox and Reindeer were no less exciting with some wonderful close up encounters that provided outstanding opportunities.
Svalbard in winter by snowmobile is not for the faint of heart. The distances required to travel are long (upwards of 200km plus per day) and the terrain (glacier crossings and sea ice) is often bumpy and challenging. Temperatures can be extremely cold with many hours of exposure in the field. The rewards for those who are willing to push themselves though can be truly exceptional. The possibility of close encounters with Polar Bears, Reindeer and Arctic Fox make this an expedition where truly unique and powerful photographs can be captured.
I will be returning to Svalbard in early March of 2021 to lead another winter snow mobile expedition for no more than two photographers. I am not quite ready to start taking bookings as yet but expressions of interest are welcome via email. Prior snow mobile experience is preferred, but not essential. What is essential is a strong desire to spend time in Nature with a willingness to be out in the field in Winter elements. Expect long days, cold weather and best of all incredible rewards that fill the soul as well as your memory cards.