Climbing Solheimajokull Glacier in Iceland
Have you ever had that feeling where you can accomplish anything after tackling something you thought you could never do? Yeah, that was me after glacier hiking up a glacier in Iceland. I’m the kid that normally lags behind the rest of the crew on hikes because of my short legs and vertical resistance. So being able to complete the day tour itinerary with Iceland Excursions was a big morale boost for myself, and probably gave me some false hope for hikes I tried to do afterwards. I think a climbing a glacier is an awesome way to connect with nature and a must-do activity when in Iceland!
Each year, the glaciers in Iceland, and around the world, recede because of global warming. Not only does this mean that you should hike up one while you can, but it also tells you how important it is to protect the environment and look into ways of stopping the trends of climate change. While on the hike, I could hear water melting underneath us and would occasionally walk by puddles (one dude walked into one!). It is never recommended to walk up a glacier without a knowledgeable guide because it is easily possible to slip down into a Moulin (glacier tube) and sometimes slide all the way down to the bottom of the glacier. The guides know their way around the glacier, and it’s fun and interesting when they point out little facts about the formations of the glacier. Our guide had us look down into a deep crevice that anybody would surely die in if they fell down it.
The best part, and one I am most proud of completing, was climbing up a glacier wall! Here is when we got to put our crampons, ropes and ice picks to use. I thought I was never going to make it up because gravity (and chubbiness) was making it hard to get the ice pick out of the ice and move it up higher. But thankfully, our guide made me look like I was doing a better job than what I felt like I was doing and helped pull me up with the rope. Somehow I managed to make it up to the top. Completing the climb was an awesome feeling, but afterwards not so much because my legs were trembling for like ten minutes.
The glacier hike didn’t take very long, and is a great hike for beginners and experts alike. I recommend wearing warm but light and waterproof clothing. You can easily get hot on a sunny day, especially with the brightness reflecting off the ice, and you’ll want to be able to pack the clothes without having to hike with a heavy backpack. But Icelandic weather is very unpredictable, so make sure the clothing is toasty incase the wind or snow picks up.
As a rewarding treat, we got to stop off at Skogafoss waterfall after the hike. It is towering with lots of mist. And nearby is the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which made headlines for exploding in 2010 and causing chaos for Europe’s flight system for many months. Get your Icelandic glacier hike at Solheimajokull in before E15 blows again!
Photos courtesy of author and Ryan Lock