Glacier Hiking on Sólheimajökull, Iceland

Friday, 24 January 2014

I love Iceland. I'm going to start every single Iceland post with that.
Can you blame me though? Look.

We went hiking on Sólheimajökull glacier. It's on the South Coast of Iceland, the baby glacier on the bottom.

We booked our tour from Mountain Guides and picked the 'Take a Walk on the Ice Side' tour, which was 20, 900 ISK or about 180 USD. It was a bit pricey, but completely and utterly worth it. We got picked up from just outside the tour office at 7.30am in the morning and began the 2 and a bit hour drive down to Sólheimajökull.

The tour company provided crampons, harnesses, picks, gloves, and even hiking boots for those who were lacking. It was supposed to cost an extra $5 to rent hiking boots but they just gave them to us for free. We walked from the car park onto the edge of the glacier where our guide showed us how to put on the crampons and how to tie them up neatly. Five years ago, the car park was right on the edge of the glacier but it is receding at a fairly steady pace so it's getting further every year. We passed a big lake with melted glacier water and a lot of ash while walking up to the glacier. 

See the car park in the distance?

The black stuff on top of the ice is volcanic ash. Every time there is an eruption, a layer of ash and dust settles on top of the ice, and gets snowed on and is trapped between the layers of ice. When the ice melts, the ash travels down in the little streams and comes to rest in these huge piles.

It got quite warm while we were walking, so I would definitely recommend layers. I had thermal underwear, a singlet, a long-sleeved top, a cardigan, a windbreaker, a puffy jacket and jeans, a hat and gloves. Lots of layers - I spent most of the time just just my top and it was perfectly fine. Someone on our tour was wearing ski pants and she said she was getting really sweaty! 

The (ash free) ice is clear and clean and completely delicious to eat. 

Climbing into an ice cave!

I would definitely recommend anyone passing through Iceland to go on a glacier hike. It is amazing, so beautiful and wild, for lack of a better word. The hike took about 3 hours, and although it started raining towards the end and we were absolutely freezing and wet, it was worth it. Every cent! (: 

xx gee

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