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Guest Post: Glacier Climbing in Reykjavik, Iceland!



Hello! Janine from www.travelrunlive.com here. Larissa was nice enough to lend us her GoPro to record our epic glacier climb in Iceland a few weeks ago, and we got some great footage! I'm here to write a guest post on our experience.

The moment right after we booked our Iceland vacation package through Icelandair, I was already googling "extreme activities in Iceland." One of the first must do things that came up was ice climbing Solheimajokull Glacier in South Iceland, and since that sounded super bad ass, we were sold immediately.

We booked the 9 hour tour through Arctic Adventures, which included transportation to and from the hotel, and a bonus stop at a waterfall after the climb. The tour was pricey at a little over $200 per person, but as we would come to find out, everything in Iceland is pricey. It is important to mention that doing any sort of glacier activity requires a guide, so there is no getting around paying this premium. Why can't you just walk around on a glacier on your own, you ask? Well, the glaciers are constantly changing each day, mostly due to melting. This makes for different ice formations and crevasses, which are beautiful to see, but can also be dangerous. You could potentially be walking on solid ice one minute, and step on a 60 foot hole and plunge to your untimely death the next. The holes were not obvious to the eye either, as some of them were snow covered while others just had non solid ice that would break if you walked on it. In fact, because of this, the tour included a second safety guide that would walk ahead of us to check the area we were about to hike for any dangerous spots.
 
Does this look like a 60 foot hole?

 We were informed of all this and how important it was to follow right behind the guide when we arrived at the glacier. We were also given our ice picks, which looked like weapons, and were fitted with our crampons, which were these metal spikes that tied to the bottom of your boots to help grip the ice.

 
Ice picks and crampons
Finally, it was time to start the hike! The first 20-30 minutes was mostly uphill, and was strenuous as you had to step more firmly than you normally would to make sure your crampons grasp the ice. We made a few stops along the way so the guide could show us a few crevasses and give us some information about the glacier.

Then, the guide informed us that there was an ice cave that was safe to enter! We had to break up into smaller groups to go inside, since the opening was so small. We got to go first, and the sight of this cave was probably the most breathtaking thing I have ever seen. The ice was pure blue and the formations made throughout the cave were unlike anything I had ever seen before. Sitting right outside the cave in the middle of the glacier was also a pile of volcanic rock... Can you say fire and ice?? This all made for some excellent photo opportunities.

Fire and ice shot
After this, we walked about another 10 minutes to an ice wall in the glacier. It was time to ice climb! After a brief demonstration from our guide, we set up our harnesses and began to climb, 2 at a time, up the ice wall. I was the second person in our group to climb. It was way harder than it looked. We first had to hammer into the ice with the ice picks, which should be done over our heads, less than shoulder width apart, which would be used to steady us as we climbed. We then had kick the ice, keeping our foot straight enough so that the crampon on the front of our shoe would grasp the ice and support our body weight. In theory, ice climbing should use mostly your legs, as one foot should always be moving you up the ice while the placement of the ice picks should be used to keep your balance while you kick the other foot up even higher.  The final thing to remember was to be precise with your ice picks, as to not cut the rope that was holding you up... I was extremely careful of this the entire time as I am usually clumsy and really didn't feel like falling to my death on this trip..

I found it extremely hard to to get the crampons to stay in the ice and support my body weight, and I slipped more than a few times, holding myself up with my arms on the ice picks. I am overly happy to report that I was the only women from the tour to make it to the top! All those pull-ups I do at home had finally paid off!

 Once reaching the top, we got to rappel back down the wall, which was really fun. My arms were so tired after the climb that even holding up a camera was a hard task for the next hour. My husband Brian climbed up next. He quickly climbed up to the overhang area before slipping a little and deciding to just climb back down. Somehow he still made it look easy though. 

Check out this Gopro video of our climb!



Now that we had gotten our adrenaline high for the day, it was time to board the mini bus and head to Skogafoss waterfall. We were able to walk right up to this waterfall, which was cool, but we also got drenched. Finally, it was time to head back to Reykjavik, and we were glad as we were exhausted from our hike and climb.
Skogafoss waterfall
If you only have the opportunity to do one excursion in Iceland, do this one! It was not only one of the most memorable things we did in Iceland, but possibly one of the most memorable things we have ever done in our lives!

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