Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ice Climbing and Hiking in Iceland

Ice climbing on a trip to Iceland

Travelling to the Arctic isn't complete without a bout of glacier hiking and ice climbing. On my trip to Iceland a few weeks ago, my travel buddy and I had a go at both.

We'd booked the Blue Ice trip through Arctic Adventures a local adventure excursion company. After we were picked up from our hotel, we were driven along the south shore to the Sólheimajökull Glacier where it was all going to happen.

At the parking lot near the glacier, we were greeted by an icy wind and subzero temperatures, making me extremely grateful for the dozen layers of clothes I was wearing. (Which also made me look a little bit like a Michelin woman.)

Our guides gave us quick instructions and a demo of how to strap on the crampons, how to use the ice axe and how not to use the ice axe.  We learned how to go up a hill on the crampons, and down a hill on the crampons, which some chose to do on their bums. Per showed us how to walk parallel on a slope dancer style and old man style, which probably makes more sense when you see this. And finally off we went.

Ice climbing on a trip to Iceland

We slalomed among the crevasses and moulins(glacier mills), while Per explained to us how they come into being. I'm afraid to say that I can't retell any of it because I was much more interested in the colours and shapes of the ice. It's amazing how ice can turn in different hues of blue.

At the end of the hike, Per found the perfect, steep ice wall, where he screwed in an ice screw and attached a rope. I attached my harness and after a lot of hacking, kicking and mostly being pulled up on the rope by Per, I managed to reach the top.

It does look very impressive in the picture, but in real life it was only about a 10 metre wall, however and most importantly; it all felt very much like a Bear Grylls expedition.


  1. I would love to do this sometime in the future. How long is the actual hike and how fit do you have to be to complete successfully? Is altitude a concern?


  2. The hike itself wasn't that long actually. Maybe just two hours? The only thing is that you need to wrap up. The climbing is a different story. But you don't need to do it if you don't want to.