From the top of the world to… the top of the world!

Thomas Lone spent a lot of his spare time exploring the mountains around Longyearbyen. Here with Hiorthfjellet in the background.

Top image: Thomas Lone spent a lot of his spare time exploring the mountains around Longyearbyen. Here with Hiorthfjellet in the background. Photo: Private.

Thomas Lone became the youngest Norwegian to reach The Seven Summits in 2020. During the summer of 2019, just two months after he summited Mount Everest, he moved to Svalbard to study Arctic Measurements Techniques at UNIS. 

5 March 2021
Text: Maria Philippa Rossi

The 25-year old was born and raised outside Oslo, and after a year in the army he started a five-year Master of Science program at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway.

­”I studied within the field of marine technology, not to be confused with marine biology, as many do. Marine Technology deals with all aspects of maritime engineering, whether it be ships, offshore platforms, ocean-based wind turbines or salmon mares.”

At UNIS he took the master course AT-334 Arctic Measurements Techniques. The course addresses instrumentation, cybernetics and measurements of parameters and operations in the Arctic marine environment.

“The course covered a broad range of topics. One of the modules focused on ice. We learned about how ice forms, how it behaves and which mechanical forces we need to considerate. Another module was on robotics and which sensors we can use on different platforms to measure and monitor ice, water and the seabed. For all these instruments there are many unique and exiting challenges to address going into the ice. It becomes difficult to “talk” to the instruments, as they cannot resurface and communicate with you or a satellite.”

Kite surfing outside Longyearbyen harbour
Don’t underestimate the kiting possibilities on Svalbard! Thomas brought his kite and often went kite surfing on Adventfjorden. Photo: Private

A perfect place for an outdoor enthusiast

Thomas had never been to Svalbard before, but as an outdoor enthusiast he was eager to find out more about the archipelago. He heard from a former student that an exchange semester at UNIS was a possibility, and as he wrote his master thesis on underwater robotics it was a perfect fit.

“It was a unique experience! I was dearly welcomed as a student, UNIS had a good learning environment, and there was a perfect opportunity to get exposure for a broad set of fields with people from all over the world. Despite being a tiny city in the Arctic it felt like the ultimate exchange experience.”

He quickly made friends and they became a group of students who socialized before and after classes.

Thomas brought his kite and wetsuit and went kiting on Adventfjorden. He also got a part-time job at Svalbard Adventures and did some guiding and went on many trips to Bjørndalen, the Larsbreen, Sukkertoppen and the Platåberget.

“I kayaked with a friend across the Adventfjorden and summited the mountain Hiorthfjellet. That trip was probably the most memorable. On the return hike we saw a polar bear and I was just about to call the Governor of Svalbard as we saw the helicopter approaching and scaring the bear away. As we came down to the shore, we could see huge footprints around the kayaks.”

Thomas Lone at South Summit, Mount Everest

Thomas became the youngest Norwegian to reach the Seven Summits in 2020. He summited Mount Everest just two months before moving to Svalbard. Here from the South Summit at 8700 Photo: Private.

From Everest to Nordenskiöld

Most UNIS courses include field work, and Thomas went on a research trip to the glacier Nordenskiöldbreen where they deployed underwater robots.

“To study so close to the elements is a beautiful experience. We had projects we pushed forward and realized, we did something more than just replicate what others had done previously, we created something!”

He is enthusiastic when he talks about the experience on Svalbard, and he has some sound advice to new students:

“Be fully rested when you arrive in Longyearbyen!”

He laughs.

“Most programs are intensive, but you don’t want to spend the afternoons on a couch. Get together with your classmates and discover Svalbard on your free time. You’re all new to this unique place. Take advantage of it! Go and explore!”

The Arctic Measurement Techniques course runs in early autumn – application deadline is 15 April. 

Three students in front of the Nordenskiöld glacier.
Thomas and his fellow students Bjørn Singstad and Håvard Løvås in front of the Nordenskiöld glacier. Photo: Private.
Arctic Technology Courses Student life