In the time after the tragedy in 1995 that spared Hilde (she would not provide her last name), she never give an interview about the incident. Two years later she made an exception for author Birger Amundsen to allow its contribution to demystify the event. The story is published next week in the book "Uten Nåde" ("Without Mercy"). The following is an excerpt:
"It was Nina who discovered the bear. I had more than enough with following Nina's rapid pace over the plateau. 'Look there is a reindeer,' said Nina. I do not know if that was what she thought she saw or she hoped so. I turned my face to the left and a good distance away I saw a round, furry little bear. Nina had seemed positive when she said it, so the sight of the bear came unexpectedly for me. It cut through me like a knife at the sight of the bear. The first thing I thought of was the possible ways out. It was too far to turn around and too long to follow the snowmobile tracks down to Sverdrupbyen. But to the left in front of us the mountainside turned inward toward us; maybe we could get down there. But we still had to manage to scare the bear if it came closer. We had to cross the bear to come down to the city.
I told Nina that it's not a reindeer, but a bear (should have reassured her instead). 'We can go fast without running," I said. 'We must do it! If it gets close we need to scare it away.' Inside me I thought that we were both too young to die. There was too much to be done, and so many dreams and far too many to take farewell with."
The bear was between the girls and the edge of the plateau to Longyearbyen. Hilde was not able to remember how long they had gone over the plateau when they spotted the bear. It was obvious that the sour weather had caught them a long way out. Hilde had more than enough with following Nina's fast speed.
According to Hilde, Nina was the fittest of the two. She was an aerobics instructor and trained several hours a day.
Hilde says that they did not talk much, that it was best to keep quiet:
"I said we have to try to scare it, that we must try to manage it. I thought terribly much, but did not say much."
In the letter (an elaborate letter Hilde sent to the author Amundsen after their first meeting - editor) she wrote: "We continued even faster, but we did not run. The polar bear was clearly starting to get interested. He first went parallel with us far away. After that he approached, but he obviously had plenty of time. Far away he had his head held high, but the closer he got the more he sank his head. He never ran right at us, giving us an ever-so-little hope, maybe we could get him scared away if he was too intrusive. But his curiosity was too great. He came towards us. Then I realized that he would not let us escape. Since I nearest the bear, and was also the oldest, I should pay with my life. I said to Nina that she must greet home, that there wasn't time for a longer farewell speech. Nina shouted 'No, no, you're not allowed.' I think Nina hoped for another way out other then our own forces. I think she looked frantically for people who could emerge, by snowmobile or otherwise, that could save us.
The fear had gripped me since I saw the polar bear. But when it was about two meters away from me I got unknown powers over the fear. I took a step toward the bear, raised my arms, and made me as big and scary as possible while I yelled as I have never done before. The polar bear then had its head down to the ground. I saw it in the eyes it could tell that we were dangerous."
"I was really angry, therefore, and took a step toward it. He took a step back when I roared. And when he didn't go then, I thought that the only way was to escape, but it was probably the stupidest thing you could do. I do not know if it would have had disappeared if we had been standing completely still, or if he would have attacked anyway."
I do not remember in detail what happened then. Was the bear standing or did the bear go away towards Nina? In any case, we started to run. That was a mistake. You do not run from a bear. We lost control of the bear.
When I turned around to see what happened to Nina I saw the polar bear for the first time on two with a grip on Nina's jacket. On two, the bear was higher than Nina. Nina shouted for help. 'Pull off your coat,' I cried. 'I must get help.' It hit her in the stomach down in the snow. So I ran the last few meters towards the mountain.
I did not know where it would end downhill on the mountainside, so I closed my eyes and jumped off while I thought about if Nina is killed that I hoped I would die in the fall. But when the speed slowed I realized that I was going to survive. The first bit went fast, heeding the snow and rock. The bottom portion was heavy, I might have been snarled then. It seemed like lump of lead that moved me at snail's pace forward. It was hard and long. On the other side, I saw skiers. I hoped they would come meet me, so I waved her arms. But it all took too long."
Hilde fell, glided and slid for the first hundred meters. She tried to slide further down, but had to give up because of rocks sticking up. The place she jumped from is like a V-shaped inroad into the mountainside and the only place where it is possible to get one's self down without being seriously crushed. She came down Longyeardalen to within a few hundred meters of Sverdrupbyen, where the distance to Nybyen is more than 300 meters. Hilde could not attract the skiers' attention as she trotted across the valley. Arriving at the barracks in Nybyen, she met people and asked them to call for help. She was sent in a taxi to the hospital with a fracture of the left wrist and a sprained tailbone. She was also rather bruised."