Hiking up a Glacier!!!

Hiking up the Svínafellsjökull GlacierMy favorite part of the trip around Iceland!!  I was really excited for this part, I’d never even seen a glacier, so to go hike up one sounded like an absolute blast!  Thankfully, I was anything but disappointed!

Crampons on!  Ready to go!!

Svínafellsjökull GlacierThe bottom of the Svínafellsjökull GlacierI booked the tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides and absolutely loved our tour guide and the other employees who got us situated with our gear for heading out.  They were all very friendly.  We chose the Glacier Adventure hike, for 4 hours as opposed to the shorter 2 hour trip.  I wanted to experience this!  If I’m already paying the money for it, why not pay a little more for double the time?  You get a lot further up the glacier that way…  Also appreciated here was the small tour group size.  The group consisted of six people, including our guide.  I love small groups, so much more personable and enjoyable!

Anyways, you climb up the Svínafellsjökull Glacier, which is a short ride from their stand at the Skaftafell National Park (Svartifoss is here as well).  Once you’re at the bottom of the glacier, you learn how to attach the crampons to your boots.  You’re then led up onto the ice for some mini-lessons on how to walk on a glacier using crampons.  The different techniques for up, down, sideways along a slope…  Then you’re off!

Svínafellsjökull GlacierSvínafellsjökull Glacier
The glacier isn’t flat, you’re constantly either going up or down over little swells in the ice.  Not huge hills, so it’s not particularly tiring.  In between these swells, are crevasses, usually very narrow, that you can look down into as you step over.  It’s weird to see how far down some of these go…

Other crevasses, are covered with snow…  I did not know this…  I’m following behind the tour guide, whom I could have sworn I saw step down into one of these dips, but I guess not.  Anyways, I step… Next thing I know I have sunk to my left hip in the snow, my right leg thankfully doing some odd, bent up thing on the surface.  It happened so fast I didn’t even get scared.  One moment walking, the next, stuck in the snow.  I guess because I am used to this occurrence?  I grew up in Maine, where winter means lots of snow!  Sinking in a snow drift is common place…

Svínafellsjökull GlacierSvínafellsjökull GlacierI did, however, scare everyone else in the group!  The tour guide especially!  But, I was extremely impressed with how quickly she responded to it!  So one moment I was walking, and the next, as it was still processing in my mind that I had just sunk into the snow, I saw her hands enter my field of vision to yank me up.  She was fast!  And scared!  But, I was absolutely fine, and we all continued on our way once everyone carefully stepped over that area…  For the remainder of the hike, I was very careful to not step in the bottom of the dip between swells!  As I’m sure everyone else in the group was!

So, the 4 hour trip gets you quite a ways up the glacier, to where the glacier forms a little saddle or valley amongst the mountain peaks.  You stop here, break for snacks and water (you have to bring your own), pictures, and then start heading back down, although along a different route.  Along the way back the guide brought us past a beautifully colored puddle on the ice, a little runoff stream, some deep chasms into the ice.  At the later, she used her ice pick to chip off some ice to fall into one of these chasms.  You can hear it falling for such a long time…  Kind of scary when considering how I almost fell down one!!

Looking back down the Svínafellsjökull Glacier from the topSo, all in all…. Go hike a glacier in Iceland!  It was absolutely amazing, so beautiful, and that falling thing… Not common place!  That was the first time she’d ever had any fall like that and she’s been with the company for years!  The guides know what they’re doing and know the glacier.  You’ll be in good hands!

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