An intangible longing

This blog article is a bit special. It’s not about the places I visit but about a special place of longing. The article is more personal than the others and probably I write it mostly for myself. I decided to publish it anyhow. You are welcome to read it and share your thoughts in the comment section. That would be nice!

I’m feeling sad and wistful. This map shows the reason for my melancholy and the place of my longing:

The image above is a clip of the map North Circumpolar Region. A large version of the map hangs in my work room home in Sweden. In the middle of the cropped image there it is: The North Pole! Unreachable. But …

Let’s first go back in history. 20 years ago. I lived in Essen, Germany and I just had stopped working as a professional jazz musician and made my first work experiences in web programming. Everything was new. And I started to develop a new passion: The Scandinavian winter.

That winter I had been in Lapland for the first time and I loved it! With the exception of the following year I have been north of the Arctic Circle every single year since then. In 2004 I first moved to the opposite direction – Munich – but in 2010 I moved to Sweden. 2020 was a very special year. Annika and I bought a house and moved in together in May. And in August we have married ! At the same time I got a job at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. As a matter of fact that is too far away from home but this job is just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That’s why I have had two places to live since then. Right now I’m in Tromsø.

Since I not only like maps but also graphics, I photoshopped a bit today. A graph about “way-up-north” the last 20 years. The x-axis shows the time and y-axis shows the latitude. The bars show were I lived and the dots my northernmost latitude per year.

You see the green dot this year? 82 °N – that’s quite out of my normal Northern Scandinavian boundary box. How I came there? As part of my job I got the opportunity to join a polar expedition with the ice breaker Kronprins Haakon. The three week journey took us to the Polar Ocean north of Svalbard. I was really touched and overwhelmed by the beauty of the sea ice and I fell in love with the high Arctic.

Last week Kronprins Haakon started another polar expedition for five weeks. Oh, I was longing for being in the high Arctic again and I wished to join that cruise so much!

It doesn’t make it easier that I know 9 of the 27 participants. And it doesn’t make it easier either, that the ship is probably not fully booked. There might have been a place (although no budget)! But today it became even harder when I read that yesterday Kronprins Haakon has reached the North Pole for the first time. The North Pole! Imagine – the NORTH POLE! Being there is one of my two strongest dreams in life! The other I’ll keep secret ;-). But of course it is not my main field of work travelling around. Unfortunately.

So that’s why I have been feeling sad and wistful the last two weeks.

But there are things that help.

Annika is coming to Tromsø next Friday and then we have three weeks of holiday together! Since we do not see each other regularly, each day together is something special. I’m so looking forward to see her!

Other thing that help? Hiking in the mountains (last Sunday and tomorrow), paddling kayak (yesterday), taking a bath in the sea (this afternoon).

But still visiting the North Pole will be one of my big dreams!

10 comments to “An intangible longing”

  1. Annika Kramer 2022-07-29 21:27


    Und was fuer ein Abstieg 2020!

  2. way-up-north 2022-07-29 21:36

    Du meinst von Skelleftehamn (64.69°N) nach Obbola (63.66°N)? Jede Bogensekunde war’s das wert <3

  3. Annika Kramer 2022-07-29 21:37

    Noch mehr <3 <3 <3 .
    Unsere Vigelsförätterin hat heute wieder in Vitskär getraut :-) .

  4. Johanna 2022-07-30 00:14

    Olaf, ich verstehe Deine Wehmut nur zu gut aber ich glaube, den NORDPOL schaffst Du !
    Ganz bestimmt……. :-)

  5. Margrit Schneider 2022-07-30 11:37

    Lieber Olaf, jetzt ist Annika bei Dir. Das ist dann doch ein highlight.
    Ansonsten ist das natürlich schade, daß Du die Tour Richtung Norden nicht mit machen kannst. Aber das wird ja nicht die letzte Fahrt gen Norden sein, und dann bist Du vielleicht wieder dabei !
    Ich hoffe, daß Du aus Deiner negativen Stimmung schnell wieder herauskommst.
    Mit lieben Grüßen von Ma
    Liebe Grüße auch an Annika.

  6. way-up-north 2022-07-30 16:54

    Johanna: Danke! Es ist tatsächlich nicht unmöglich, nur sehr, sehr, sehr unwahrscheinlich.

  7. way-up-north 2022-07-30 16:55

    Margrit Schneider: Annika kommt nächsten Freitag. Dann beginnt auch mein Urlaub. 3 Wochen!

  8. Christiane 2022-08-03 07:51

    Every now and then there are days in life when your longing makes it really difficult just to stay in normal everyday life. But: you most probably have quite a few years to come. You had a fantastic opportunity to go with Kronprins Haakon. So one day there will be another opportunity ☺ Looking at your graphic above (I love that!) it seems pretty likely that you will reach the North Pole one day!
    Enjoy your holiday the next 3 weeks!

  9. way-up-north 2022-08-03 22:26

    Christiane: I’m pretty sure that I will join another tour with Kronprins Haakon. Reaching the North Pole however it a really special desire and since I’m not the only one I do not dare to believe that it could be possible one day.


  10. way-up-north 2022-08-04 15:58

    It looks like it was the first time ever that Norsk Polarinstitutt made a cruise to the North Pole. And it was only possible because of KV Svalbard, another ice breaker joining and open leads from previous ice breaking.

    So no, the North Pole is something really special, even for Norsk Polarinstitutt and I don’t think that I will ever get the opportunity.


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