Ice Diving in Arctic Norway
This trip will take us to Kirkenes and the Barents Sea in Arctic Norway, at latitude 70° north, a perfect destination for ice diving. By the end of February, the 6-month long winter is drawing to a close and the climate becomes more human friendly, whilst still offering excellent conditions for winter activities.
Even though ice diving is our main focus on the trip, there will be great opportunities to get closer to the Norwegian wildlife and nature. This area is one of the most remote parts of Norway, with less than 10,000 citizens. Many foreign visitors believe that ice bears are walking through the streets of Norway, but that is unlikely to happen. None the less, the Passvik Valley ("Passvikdalen") has the biggest population of brown bears in the country, so there is always a chance.
Kirkenes was heavily affected by the Second World War, and the Germans posted more than 30,000 soldiers there. The city had over 300 air raids during the war, and when the Germans were forced to retreat after 4 years of occupation, they burned everything down. Less than 20 houses were left intact which made the Russian advance more difficult.
Check the photo gallery for pictures and info from the 2004 trip...
PADI Ice Diver certification
To make our ice diving experience as safe as possible, we will spend two days qualifying for the PADI Ice Diver certification. During the course you will learn the basic skills needed to participate in ice diving activities.
This will include how to make holes in the ice, emergency procedures and tendering. The latter is very important as the usage of rope is normally the only way to communicate with the diver.
Prior to the trip you will receive a document containing information about what type of equipment and clothing you need to bring, together with tips on how to avoid regulator free flows.
WW2 wrecks under ice
According to the locals there are over 100 known wrecks in the area around Kirkenes, and most likely many still to be found. On our trip we aim to dive at least 2 of them, whilst under ice.
D/S Johan Faulbaum: German cargo boat sunk by Russian airplanes 14 May 1944. Depth 10-35 metres and in good condition.
Curtis P40: Russian airplane crashed June 1943. Depth ca. 20 metres and in good condition.
Huge King Crabs
The Red King Crab originates from the Camchatca region in Russia, and was intentionally introduced into the Barents Sea in the 60's. During the last few years, scientists have expressed a growing concern about the growth in population and expansion of the King Crab. It can grow to around 1.5 metres in diameter and 12 kilos in weight. Mature crabs have no natural predators (apart from humans) and the current population in the Barents Sea region is estimated between 12-16 million.
One evening during the trip, we will enjoy the true delicacy of the King Crab. We can guarantee that you won't find any fresher King Crab served elsewhere in the World. Just this meal alone brings people all the way from Japan where this delicacy is too expensive for most people to buy - the flights to Norway are cheaper!
Trekking with huskies
Dogs and sleighs are a natural part of the Arctic life. The most popular dog is the Alaskan husky, a crossbreed known for its speed and enormous endurance. It is also easily trained, friendly and social with a strong instinct to pull sledges.
During the stay we will meet this magnificent animal, and go dog sleighing into the Passvik valley. After a night sleeping outdoor in lavvo tents, we prepare the dogs and return to the kennel.
The nature in this region is very special, and is home to many indigenous plants and animals. The forest in Passvik is a part of the Siberian Taiga, one of the largest boreal forests in the World. Reindeer and Elg (Moose) are often seen here, and on a lucky day you might even get a glimpse of a wolverine (skunk bear), lynx or a wolf.
The Passvik Valley is known not only for its bears, but also the dry climate. The summers are short, and the winters long and cold. During winter, the temperature can drop below -50°C and in summer reach a pleasant 30°C. The Midnight Sun can be seen from mid May to mid July, and this is also the land of the Northern lights.
The dive centre
The dive centre is situated in Jardfjordbotn, 25 km East of Kirkenes. The centre consists of 3 main buildings, one of which is a big cabin that will be our accommodation. This is a remote area, and the road ends a few hundred metres further down from the centre... so don't expect to meet many people!