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Creating a Sherpa trail to Platåberget

Visit Svalbard is seeking funds to build a stone-paved Sherpa trail from Burmaveien to the cairn on Platåberget. The intent is a safer and more accessible path, which will allow more people to use it and make it easier to get out in nature. FOTO: Hilde Fålun Strøm

Creating a Sherpa trail to Platåberget

Visit Svalbard is 1.9 million kroner short of what it needs to initiate the project. They also need permission from the Governor to build the trail.

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Visit Svalbard wants to build a stone-paved path from Burmaveien to the cairn on Platåberget.

"The cairn is an iconic hotspot for both tourists and residents with a good view in all directions," said Trine Krystad, leader of the project for Visit Svalbard. "We are now fully focused on putting in place the final part of the financing of the Sherpa trail."

They are seeking a 1.9-million-kroner grant from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund.

In July, Visit Svalbard got eight million kroner from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop green and natured-based tourism in Svalbard. Visit Svalbard Director Ronny Brunvoll said the money will be used to build infrastructure and attractions in the vicinity of Longyearbyen. A total of 1.5 million kroner of these funds will go toward the construction of the Sherpa trail, which is expected to cost a total of 3.5 million kroner.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries has authorized the trail to ensure the public right of access to the cairn on Platåfjellet. But Visit Svalbard has not yet got the final permission from the environmental department at the Governor of Svalbard.

Inspection

An inspection to set an exact route for the trail was conducted Monday by officials with Visit Svalbard, The Governor of Svalbard's environmental department and Hilde Fålun Strøm from Spitsbergen Travel. The latter is also a partner in Arktisk 2030, a long-range plan the trail is part of.

On Friday, Anne Rudsengen from the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) will visit Longyearbyen to share experiences from a similar project on the mainland and to initiate an engagement with the local tourism industry.

Will the project have a huge impact on the landscape?

"The purpose of adding a stone trail is to facilitate and preserve a vulnerable area," Krystad said. "As it is now there is wear developing in a large area on the hillside. We want to lead anyone who goes there onto a path that will tolerate the traffic. We are confident that this is a good measure for gentle use."

Local stones

The job of laying stone will be put up for bid, but it is likely stonelayers from Nepal and Norway will come here to do the job. The plan is to remove the stone from the established mass outlet at Mine 3.

The stone will be flown by helicopter to where it should be on the mountain. Krystad said they are aware there are bird nesting areas there and they will therefore avoid helicopter flights between April and August.

"We will try to do this in the most flexible way with minimal impact on cultural heritage sites, nature and wildlife," she said.

New trail: Visit Svalbard is seeking funds to build a stone-paved Sherpa trail from Burmaveien to the cairn on Platåberget. The intent is a safer and more accessible path, which will allow more people to use it and make it easier to get out in nature.

Inspection: On Monday there was an inspection of the area where the Sherpa trail will be built. From left, Ronny Brunvoll, Hilde Fålun Strøm, Andrine Kylling and Hans Olav Stegarud.

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On Monday there was an inspection of the area where the Sherpa trail will be built. From left, Ronny Brunvoll, Hilde Fålun Strøm, Andrine Kylling and Hans Olav Stegarud.  FOTO: Trine Krystad

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