WELCOME TO LAND OF ICE!
Glacier hiking is another activity one must do when visiting Iceland and I did mine on the “Sólheimajökull” glacier tongue, which is an outlet from Iceland’s 4th largest glacier, the”Mýrdalsjökull” (I later made the right guess that the Icelandic word for glacier is “jökull”).
The not-so-pleasant journey there alone, to the very south of Iceland, took almost 3 hours due to the weather condition and all we could see outside our coach window was the colour white. However, the sky cleared up as we were approaching the hiking site. As soon as we arrived, everyone suddenly perked up and dashed off the coach to see the change of view (which we could actually see) as well as to get some very fresh, clean air.
This was when our coach was approaching the hiking site:
There were 2 other hiking groups of 15 on top of ours. Every one seemed thrilled. Our hiking instructor, Daniel, from Icelandic Mountain Guide showed us how to put crampons securely on our hiking boots and gave us a safety brief. He had a cool and calm vibe with good sense of humour too!
Because it had been snowing non-stop for days, the blue transparent glacier was covered with snow. From distance one would have thought we were only walking on snowy rocks as opposed to ice. Despite the presence of crampons on our hiking boots, we still had to be careful when we walk up the slopes. Ice axes were given out to each of us too. We only used them mainly as a “walking sticks” but mine surely made me feel like a significantly cool person just holding as I crawled up the slopes.
The glacier is constantly moving: everyday it shrinks and grows in relations to the temperature and water current. For this reason, unless one is familiar with the glacier and knows exactly where the crevices are, it is very dangerous to be hiking there. Daniel instructed us to form a line and walk directly behind him.
And so we started the hike.
It was generally cold, but as we were constantly hiking up hill we all started to feel a little hot, especially when the sun came out occasionally. Here are some shots from a high spot where we all could breathe in the breath-taking view of the white Winterland below.
And when we were not at a high spot, there were still a lot of fascinating things to see. Daniel also explained to us that the black parts of the glacier were a result of black volcanic ashes fused with snow (before turning into ice).
This tour I booked with Icelandic Mountain Guides was called “Take a Walk On the Ice Side”, though visitors and also book it via Reykjavík Excursion as they co-operate. Although we spent approximately 3.30 hours on the Glacier, this excursion required an entire day or mainly sitting rather uncomfortably on the coach with not enough oxygen and no view. Nonetheless, despite that as well as the sudden hail towards the end of our hike, it was well worth the once-in-a-lifetime experience I had on the compressed frozen snow in the hidden winter wonderland. My stroll on the “Sólheimajökull” was definitely a walk to remember.
Another thing I learned from this tour is that no matter how incredibly icy the roads are, how bad the visibility is on the road, how big the coaches are compared with the width of the roads, you won’t die if your driver is Icelandic. As much as I was scared to death during our 3 hours of our big coach ride on the roads which were basically ice, I was highly impressed with driving skill of our driver who was, without any sign of stress, multi-tasking: driving confidently, giving us information about places we drove pass by memory and telling us jokes (which weren’t very funny, but he laughed at his own jokes and that in turn made us greatly entertained).
And lastly, thank you my usual Travelling Masquerade for joining me on my hike. You were a great company.