Tales from the Arctic Pole: unspoiled nature and wildlife

Photos and text by: Lorenzo Alesi

In a world where adventure and discovery are often driven by conquest, our recent trip to the remote regions of Svalbard and Iceland proved to be a unique experience, a journey where humans do not dominate but are respectful hosts to nature.

Polo artico
Polo Artico

Svalbard: navigating through ice and wildlife

My adventure together with Alice, friends Filippo and Alessio and filmmakers Paolo and Lorenzo begins in Svalbard, an archipelago where nature reigns supreme. Here, aboard a sailboat, we spent days in an environment where whales, polar bears, reindeer, seals and walruses are the real masters. Using traditional techniques, such as moving with “seal skins,” we crossed packs for miles, climbed numerous mountains whose summits offered incredible views, skied down slopes that plunged directly into the sea, combining ancient wisdom with modern technology.

This trip was not the achievement of a goal, but a close and respectful encounter with the wilderness. Our exploration by sailboat turned into an obedient dialogue with the wildlife life typical of the polar environment, the encounters with many of the charismatic animals that live here in the wild were not an achievement, but a privilege. The opportunity to immerse ourselves in unspoiled nature, leaving behind only the tracks of our skis, will remain an incredible memory for us.

The most amazing thing was to see up close the creature that represents these territories more than any other: the polar bear, a symbol of the dominant presence of the Arctic regions. Venturing into a territory inhabited by this lone giant requires absolute regard. The sight of the white bear filled us with joy and was a unique experience, combined with happiness and awe, that offered us the opportunity to marvel at the greatness of nature. Aboard our boat, anchored a few dozen meters from the shore, seeing him moving on the pack sniffing out our tracks gave another dimension to our idea of free exploration. In these regions he is the ruler, man a silent visitor.

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Another element that greatly impressed us was “the sound” of the Arctic, an element that cannot be overlooked. The crackling of melting ice, the imposing silence broken only by birdsong or the rumbling of shattering glaciers, the rustling of the wind in the fjords, the sound produced by the bow of the boat plying theCalm water inside bays where kilometer-wide glaciers with fronts as tall as palaces pour in, are sounds that composed the soundtrack of our adventure. These entirely spontaneous acoustic effects witnessed our admiration for an environment that welcomed us but did not belong to us.

Life on board and the challenges of exploration

Life aboard the boat was also a unique experience. Between planning routes and sharing meals in the middle of the ocean, every moment was an opportunity to strengthen the bond between fellow travelers. Preparing for a hike, deciding where to ski and facing the challenges of the always unpredictable weather made every day an adventure. A perfect atmosphere of professionalism and friendship was established with the crew. Their support has been crucial in navigating safely, finding the best spots to start our daily trips (actually more than one a day), and having a truly comfortable shipboard life. The team consisting of Alan, Arne, and Christian is top-notch, and thanks to them we were able to have unique experiences.

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Iceland: skiing between glaciers and volcanoes

As we continue toward Iceland, the landscape transforms. Here, natural elements dominate with irrepressible force. We skied at sunset, crossed icy landscapes where the sea meets snow-capped mountains, and admired the power of waterfalls cascading into the Arctic Ocean. Iceland is a place where wind and ice shape the land, creating breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Moving through the landscapes of Iceland, we witnessed firsthand the spectacle of nature. Admiring the Northern Lights, discovering the beauty of deep cavities within millennia-old glaciers, skiing on slopes that merge with the ocean, admiring natural sculptures such as frozen waterfalls, accepting the elements and adapting to them, were a true tribute to exploration and nature.

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Troll Peninsula

The Troll Peninsula, an almost mythical place, was our home away from home, a winter paradise where we left our trails in the pristine snow. Waking before dawn when the Icelandic sky is still a mosaic of stars, with sealskins fastened to our skis, we began our ascent to the peaks. Each step was a mixture of fatigue and expectation, a steady pace that took us higher and higher as the sky began to clear. From the peaks on both sides of the Akureyri Fjord, the view is truly incredible.

Skiing here is a bit like performing a dance with the elements. From the top of the mountains, we descended to the sea with fresh snow (a gift of the recent snowfall) spraying around us like sparks of joy, the wind increasing the powder effect making each descent an exhilarating adventure, an unusual mix of adrenaline and peace. At a time of year still little traveled by continental skiers, we shared our tracks with only a few locals. Most of the time we were alone with our thoughts, alone with the vastness of Iceland. As the day drew to a close, the light changed: the cold dawn gave way to a sunset that tinged the mountains pink.

One last goodbye and then the descent into the sunset trying to copy the light of the final sunbeam, until we hit the water just before plunging into the Icelandic night.

L‘aurora and the northern lights

Northern lights are spontaneous spectacles that, fortunately, human beings cannot plan or control; one can only wait and hope for a chance to witness them. Some of the most intense performances of the aurora have been those mesmerizing moments when you look up to the sky, to the colors and the brilliant spectacle. The dance of lights in the night sky, with shades ranging from green to purple, was an almost surreal experience. Standing there, in the silence of the Arctic, watching this natural spectacle, was like attending a private concert of nature, a performance that leaves you breathless and reminds you how small we are in the face of the grandeur of the universe.

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Exploring Vatnajökull
We were faced with something truly majestic: the Vatnajökull glacier, one of the giants of Europe. The wind lashes our faces as we prepare to cross this vast white world, but we don’t feel cold: it’s the adrenaline rising.

Walking on the glacier is like walking on another planet. Every crack, every shade of white and blue attracts us. But the real wonder is yet to come. Descending into the glacier cavities is an experience that is hard to describe. Access is narrow, but once inside we find ourselves in a completely turquoise world. The ice walls shine like jewels, and we feel as if we have entered a dream. We walk carefully, and touching the walls we feel the cold eternity of ice. Each cave is a world unto itself and each step takes us deeper into this natural wonder.

Once we leave, it is natural to turn around, to look at the turquoise caves one last time: we will surely carry the memory of this fantastic experience with us forever. This was not just a journey or a descent, but an encounter with nature at its purest and most beautiful. And as we walk away, we cannot help but feel grateful for having had the opportunity to explore this wild and unspoiled part of the world. We will definitely return there, because places like this call to you, draw you in and never really let you go.

The experience in Iceland was not just an adventure or a ski test, it was an event that touched our souls, a testament to the wild beauty of our planet, a reminder of how important it is to protect these magical places. For those seeking not just to ski, but to experience a story, to be part of a landscape that speaks, Iceland is a destination not to be missed. It is a journey that changes you, that leaves you with memories not only in photos, but in your heart.

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Final reflections: tangible climate change

Our itinerary was also a wake-up call on climate change. The accelerated melting of glaciers and alterations in ecosystems are unmistakable signs that the planet is changing. This experience has left us all with a sense of urgency and responsibility toward protecting our environment and, consequently, toward protecting ourselves

In conclusion

This trip between Svalbard and Iceland was more than just an exploration, I would say an experience that taught us the importance of being considerate visitors to these wild and unspoiled environments. Every moment spent in these remote lands was a reminder of the fragility of our planet and the need to protect and preserve it for future generations. This adventure has left us with indelible memories and a deep gratitude for the natural wonders of our world.

About the film

This film is my personal tribute to exploration, nature and a relationship with the natural world based on respect and understanding. It is a tale of an adventure that I hope will inspire viewers to reflect on the beauty and fragility of our planet, and our place within it as guests, not masters. In Polar Horizon,” I tried to capture the essence of what it means to be an explorer in the true sense of the word: not just someone who discovers new places, but someone who learns from them, adapts to them and, most importantly, respects them. It is a journey that has changed me, enriched my soul and taught me the true meaning of being, simply, a guest on this extraordinary planet we call home.