Ice and Spikes: Climbing the Sólheimajökull Glacier in Iceland

Ice and Spikes: Climbing the Sólheimajökull Glacier in Iceland

In #Iceland, we went #hiking on a glacier. If that sounds a little strange, that's because it kinda was. Our #active trip up the glacier wasn't my finest moment, partly because I fell immediately and was dangling away from the ice, protected only by my harness. But don't worry, I got my footing back and had the time of my life.

Left, right, ice sticks in; left, right, feet up. Forceful arm strides followed by small, heavy steps. It sounded easy enough. But once I got on that vertiginous wall of ice, it was clearly not the case. The chunky ice cliff stood at a humble height of approximately 8 meters, but getting up there was no easy feat.

My first attempt and it was a complete failure.

“Find pockets of ice for support,” Our guide, Røbert Halldorsson, advised. I had no clue what a pocket of ice meant, but I plummeted my ice axes into a patch of greyish ice anyway and pushed my body upwards with all my strength. On the glazed ice, my feet could barely find their bearings and I slipped and fell, away from the ice wall. Thank goodness for the harness – I ended up hanging mid-air, in the safe hands of Røbert.

Glacier Hike in Iceland

My Virgin Ice Climbing Experience

Just this morning, I was on the Sólheimajökull Glacier in Southwestern Iceland, trying my hands at ice-climbing. My first attempt and it was a complete failure; at least I overcame the rush of pounding nerves and got myself mid-way up the wall. I can’t really be blamed for the mediocre performance though (excuses, excuses...), we’d been only been given a quick 5-minute briefing on walking with crampons and ice sticks before hiking up to the glacier and taking the plunge on an ice-cliff. Along with a group of hikers from Netherlands, my husband and I were here to seek out some fun on ice and this was proving to be one hell of an adventure.

Ice-climbing in Iceland

No Man’s Land

Our journey had started with a two-hour drive from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, weaving through green craggy cliffs, rugged tundra terrain and tumbling waterfalls. Leaving civilization behind, we felt like we’d also entered a different planet and time. Having just returned from an amazing trip in the Arctic, I missed its raw wilderness, untouched nature and the lack of human presence; Iceland was my antidote: a no man’s land blessed with striking, awe-inspiring landscapes and a rich, intriguing history, but easy-to-reach corners and creature comforts.

Waterfalls in Iceland

Glacial Explorations

Back on the glacier, we continued to explore the giant cauldrons, ridges, waterways and deep crevasses scattered along the slopes of the glacier. This Sólheimajökull is one of the many glacier tongues that extend out from the Mýrdalsjókull icecap. Fringed by coats of black volcanic sand, the bluish-white chunks of ice lie above Volcano Katla, which was formed thousands of years ago. The glacier was as grey and bleak as the rainy skies, but the artful assemblage looked all the more haunting.

from  $152

Glacier Hiking and ice Climbing in Reykjavik

 Reykjavík, Capital Region, Iceland
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As we stood on the top of the glacier, we took in a fantastic panorama of the surrounding ice, valley and ocean. “This glacier didn’t used to look the same, it has been retreating over the past few years. In the 1900s, it stretched as far as the ocean, which is a few kilometers away. As recent as the year 2000, the glacier reached where the car park is, a good few hundred meters of where it lies today.” The sad truth is disheartening; while I wonder how much time this glacier has left, I hope there will still be a few more generations after us who’ll get to enjoy its beauty before it’s gone forever…

Solheimajojull Glacier, Iceland

My self-drive trip in Iceland and this Blue Ice Glacial Hike was hosted by Discover the World. All opinions expressed above are my own. 

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