And they were right! Iceland has a lot of beautiful glaciers to offer and you should definitely go and check out at least one of them. While planning our trip to Iceland it came to my mind that it might be appropriate to visit a glacier when getting the chance to. In one of our previous trips in Europe during a hike, I have seen two guys fully equipped going to do a glacier hike. Since that time I have been amazed by the idea of hiking and climbing on ice and I always dreamed about realizing this. So – why shouldn’t we do it in Iceland?
Since we had zero experience with hiking and climbing on Ice, we booked a guided tour at Troll Expeditions at the beautiful glacier Sólheimajökull. It’s been described as a hike on the glacier and some ice climbing. Fully equipped, with an ice ax, helmet, very robust mountain boots and some spikes, we started with the tour. After a few meters, we stopped for the first time. The guide explained that, like 20 years ago, the ice of the glacier reached to the point where we were standing. Pretty sad, since today we couldn’t even see the ice yet. After a few hundred meters of walking we just reached the edge of the ice. The Ice was partly covered in black ashes and sands from volcanic eruptions. On their first sight, I’ve been a bit sad, since I didn’t get this experience of an ice blue and bright glacier, but after we took a closer look the contrasts of white ice and black ash amazed us more and more.
After setting up our spikes we started to hike on the ice. With spikes. I mean, this is pretty cool, right? We were told to move forward stomping thus the spikes got deeply into the hard ice. We hiked for a while and then stopped on an ice blue and bright area with some really tiny cracks in the surface where freshly melted glacier water flowed downwards. The guide invited us to get down on our knees and take a sip. I know, maybe the situation and the atmosphere affects my judgment here, but I’ll stick to the statement that this was the best water I have ever had. We could also just suck some fresh ice after breaking out a small part with your ice ax.
After a short while, we reached an area with a steep ice wall. Oh yea, the climbing part was about to begin! First, we received a short briefing and then started to climb! I have been the first or second one to go up there and it’s been pretty exhausting. You will have to ram your feet powerfully into the ice to get a secure stand and always have a firm grip on the ice ax. But Joana and I made it to the top without falling apart from the ice! This has been a great experience. Down again, I just realized how hard my hands and my feet hurt after this first try but it was worth it!
On our hike back, we talked a lot with the guide, who has been very friendly and sympathetic during the whole tour. He also told us a more or less secret tip to afterward go to a natural hot pot located nearby and take a bath under the stars! And we did that! Read here(link coming) how this experience turned out!
Get a guide and go ice climbing in Iceland! It’s been an experience we definitely won’t forget. Always consider that sadly nature changes a lot. And these changes do get faster and faster due to climate change. In some years it might be too dangerous to visit this beautiful place. Seize the opportunity and do it. Otherwise, you’ll regret it.