Musher Lars Monsen arrived to checkpoint Kirkenes just after 8 am Tuesday morning and was first out to the melting tracks again half an hour later.(Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Lars Monsen and his dogs had to cross in between puddles and slushy snow when approaching checkpoint Kirkenes early Tuesday morning. Europe’s longest sled dog race is about to melt away in the unseasonably warm weather.
54 mushers from seven different countries are these days crossing Finnmark county on the top of Europe from Alta to Kirkenes and returning to Alta, in total 1,000 kilometers. Another 73 mushers participate in the shorter 500 kilometer race.
Finnmarksløpet is second to Iditarot, crossing Alaska, the world’s most famous dog sled race. The two races take place simultaneously this year.
The first musher in Finnmarksløpet arrived at checkpoint Kirkenes late Monday evening. It is, however, Lars Monsen that is first out from Kirkenes after just half an hour break. Lars Monsen is one of Norway’s most famous adventurer known for his explorations and backpacking expeditions in harsh wilderness across the Barents Region and North America.
Normally, the racers have to cope with freezing cold across the inner part of Finnmark. Not so this year. Temperatures are above zero Celsius, some places up to 3 to 4 degrees Celsius, normally considered to be a good spring in early May so far north in Europe. To warm for sledge dogs some argue.
The two classes, the 8-dogs class and a 14-dogs class, have in total over 1,000 huskies that right now are running across the amazing nature wilderness from Alta in the west to the Norwegian, Finnish, Russian borderland in the east. The first racers are expected to break the finishing tape back in Alta before the weekend.
Norwegian state-owned coal mining company Store Norske on the Svalbard archipelago is in a serious situation because of low prices on coal. The company is now in dialogue with the State, employees and the bank to secure further operations in 2015.
What was the Barents Region’s only east-west flight, from Arkhangelsk to Tromsø via Murmansk, lacks permission and is no longer flying. Nordavia, however, hopes to see the Pskovaia operated aircraft soon landing in Tromsø again.
This abandoned polar hydrometrological station at Cape Menshikova on Novaya Zemlya can be declared a culture heritage site as Arkhangelsk authorities urge Moscow to include Arctic objects in the state register.
Industrialists in Finland eye the opening of a major trade and transport route with a projected railway connection to the Norwegian Arctic coast. Former PM Paavo Lipponen has been hired to get the Norwegians onboard.
Photographer Cristian Barnett traveled around the Arctic Circle, capturing life at 66° 33′ 44″ N. The result is his new book and traveling exhibition, Life on the Line. BarentsObserver spoke with Barnett about his impressions of life on the Circle and the decisions he made to capture it.
The Sami Council, which is an umbrella organization for Sami organizations in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, has agreed that there is a need for Sami to be present in the EU capital of Brussels and plans to establish an office there.