brodyleven Our crew was, for the most part, experienced with expedition-style camps. Building base camp is always a chore, but the calm weather and mild (sub-0) temperatures were conducive to tall wind walls, bomber tent anchors, and comfortable cook and group tents. It was to be home for the next week...or maybe it would be two weeks? "I brought food for 16 days." -Steve, guide.
#SFTVsvalbard
16h

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brodyleven (continued from last post)...and when the ice was frozen, it was often saturated in water that sat atop the soft ice, though that didn't make it entirely unsafe to cross.
#SFTVsvalbard
2d

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brodyleven During the 6+ hour snowmobile ride to the glacier where we'd build our base camp, photographer @reubenkrabbe captured the fracturing sea ice that we were SUPPOSED to be snowmobiling across. The fjord, however, had other plans for us.
Sea ice such as this can come and go on a daily basis. One day, a miles-wide fjord can be covered in 20" of ice. The next day, the wind can blow all of the ice out into the open sea and only cold water sits in its wake. This obviously makes long distances tough to cover over multiple days, because a massive fjord like this one can be safe to cross one day, but open water and hugely taxing to navigate around the next.
#SFTVsvalbard
2d

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brodyleven Long distance snowmobiling with @codytownsend and crew. En route to build our base camp in Svalbard after returning to town for a day of re-packing.
#SFTVsvalbard
3d

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brodyleven In case it isn't obvious, this was the first time @chrisrubens looked through old 35mm film strips from a ground covered in them in an abandoned Russian theatre above the Arctic Circle at 79 degrees north while still wearing ski gear from a first descent.
#SFTVsvalbard
4d

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brodyleven I didn't go to Svalbard for open faces, big spines, deep powder, or tall cliffs. Those just aren't the features I seek in my skiing. Instead, I want the technical, the steep, the difficult to climb and ski. I want the couloirs which make my heart push out the skin on my chest, which have severe consequences that make me feel alive, which test my skills and make me question my confidence. @bjarnesalen and I found that quite quickly while @codytownsend, @chrisrubens, and @reubenkrabbe worked the craft that they've perfected on an open, steep, nearby chute.
#SFTVsvalbard
5d

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brodyleven Finally meeting @bjarnesalen was an honor. He’s a filmer, climber, skier, and person whom I’ve admired greatly over the past few years. His relationship and storied accomplishments in the mountains with @andreasfransson99 are inspiring, and his approach to climbing and skiing is humbling. With that in mind, it was so cool to set off on skins from the sea ice in the background toward the base of this couloir that we spotted from the frozen ocean and decided, “Yeah, that looks fun, let’s go climb and ski it. I wonder if that choke will go or not...” #SFTVsvalbard 1w

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brodyleven We were supposed to have left for base camp, SW of Longyearbyen, a couple of days earlier. The weather forecast in that part of the island stopped us. Instead, here we stood, hours and hours NE of town, in the sleepy, elongated, early-morning golden hour light, choosing what to climb and ski.
This is Steve, our Arctic Nature Guide, from @theempirelogistics, looking at what would become one of my favorite lines of the trip.
But the trip hadn't truly started yet. Base camp was far, far away, and we still had nearly 3 weeks in the Arctic.
#SFTVsvalbard
1w

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brodyleven The places that skiing can take you... Pyramiden, Svalbard.
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1w

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brodyleven Only a few people live in Pyramiden, the distant, abandoned Russian mining town accessed only by snowmobile in the winter and boat in the summer. Sasha is one of them.
His English is flawless.
#SFTVsvalbard
1w

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brodyleven Hours of snowmobile driving with heavy sleds and passengers put us at the end of a glacier, sitting against frozen sea ice, at dusk, staring across a fjord at Pyramiden. Well, maybe it wasn’t dusk. We couldn’t tell; we were driving in a whiteout. Our sled gang quickly drove across the thin ice covering the calm, frigid ocean, hoping it would support us on our way toward the abandoned Russian mining town. Sasha, one of ~5 inhabitants living there to support mild summer tourism, greeted us upon our arrival. The clouds parted and @chrisrubens realized that perhaps it actually was dusk. But then again, we were at 79 degrees north. So maybe it was noon. Who knows.
#SFTVsvalbard
2w

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brodyleven Random Svalbard trapper's cabin, as seen from a moving snowmobile en route to a Russian ghost town.
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2w

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brodyleven "Hm, I wonder if anyone else has ever skied this" is pretty much the only thought that could still impress me about a ski line and steal my attention from the fact that I'd just seen a POLAR BEAR. [@goalzero @discrete #gopro] 2w
  •   katieboue You're just the coolest, Brody. 2w
  •   kyle514 Too cool Brody, on your skis from the future 2w
  •   hazelbirnbaum I want to see the picture of the polar bear! 2w
  •   adisusy Killin it(: 2w
  •   mountainniceness A long way from Lake County! Enjoy! 2w
  •   hikingdiva Was your first thought "oh cool!" or "oh shit!"? 2w
  •   theactivelife When I was in Greenland, I kept thinking the same kind of thing! Hmmm, I wonder how many, if anyone has trekked into these mountains. 1w

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brodyleven Like polar bears, snowmobiles outnumber people in Svalbard 3 to 1. There aren’t roads throughout the country, only a small network of streets in Longyearbyen. From there, people ride snowmobiles to access recreation and wilderness. With bad weather preventing us from departing to our proposed base camp location, we loaded snowmobile trailers with a couple days of supplies and started driving, quickly passing the last semblance of dwellings. We hit our first fjord of frozen sea ice, tested for strength and depth by our arctic guide, Steve, and a hatchet. The rule of thumb is a minimum of 15cm of ice is safe to cross…with thousands of pounds of gear on a sled behind the machine. While riding across the fjord, after seeing our first seal and reindeer, we spotted what appeared to be the first enticing ski lines of the trip. It was very cold, but we were in Svalbard to ski. @codytownsend, @chrisrubens, and I pulled out frozen ski boots and started to put them on. A brief polar bear interruption delayed us by a couple of hours, but we came back and started climbing with @reubenkrabbe.
#SFTVsvalbard
2w

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brodyleven "Dear Brody,
What is the biggest animal you've encountered while skiing, and where?" Today, on facebook.com/brodyleven

#SFTVsvalbard
2w

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brodyleven Clear skies wanted, at
the world's most northern hostel.
We came here to ski.
#SFTVsvalbard
3w

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brodyleven I’ve never shot a gun. I never had any plans of shooting a gun. I’m generally pretty against guns. But in Svalbard, people carry rifles to protect themselves from aggressive polar bears that roam the island. There are 300% more polar bears than people here. Here’s the thing: I would never shoot a polar bear. I really don’t think I could. In a place like this, we’re intruders on their territory; we’re nearly at the North Pole. So it almost felt like a farce as I knelt on the wrong knee, held the gun up to my eye with the wrong hand on the trigger, and happened to hit the bullseye on my first-ever gunshot. Rifle education, informing about flare guns, bear awareness, food varieties, and learning how to set up our expedition tents for the first time…in an absolute whiteout-sideways-blowing-blizzard, with partners we barely knew, an hour’s snowmobile ride up a foreign glacier. Geeeez. #SFTVsvalbard 3w

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brodyleven 3 weeks ago I landed on Spitsbergen, the only inhabited island of Svalbard, with a team of people I largely didn’t know and an objective that was, to me, quite vague. The small town of Longyearbyen—the capital and only true settlement in the entire autonomous Norwegian nation—welcomed us with strong winds, low temperatures, and complete whiteouts. For the remainder of March, we were to create a short ski film as the first known crew to attempt doing so during the height of the Arctic winter.
Now, allow Instagram and me to tell you the story of how it transpired, and how my toes feel after wearing ski boots in a consistent -40 windchill. #SFTVsvalbard
3w

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brodyleven I just hopped off the northernmost commercial flight on the planet.
@salomonfreeski has invited me, along with @codytownsend, @bjarnesalen, @chrisrubens, @reubenkrabbe, & @anthonybonello, to the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world: Svalbard. It's a sizable island, dwarfed by the immensity of the sea in which it sits, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. It's also where we are spending the next three weeks camped on a glacier, climbing and skiing mountains under our own power.
I likely won't be posting on Instagram until I return to Internet at the end of the month, but I will be able to satellite-share short Tweets and Facebook updates. Friend and Follow 'Brody Leven' to learn how excitedly scared I am of polar bears, what it feels like to be truly cold, and how suffocating it feels to not have Instagram for multiple hours, even DAYS, at a time.
#SFTVsvalbard is my first of what I hope to be many expeditions with the experienced Salomon crew. It just happens to be in the Arctic Circle, feature polar nights, and make Google Earth rotate a direction you didn't even know it could rotate until you typed "Svalbard" and pressed Enter.
Talking with you is what makes this lifestyle worth it for me. I'm already looking forward to our conversations and catching up on the pictures you'll post and the experiences you'll have in March.
You're awesome.
1mon

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