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First ascents on the volcano island

Preparing an ice climbing trip to Iceland, it feels like playing roulette. The island is located very far north, nearly at the polar circle, so someone could think that it might be very cold there. But due to the constant and very warm golf stream, it is more of a lucky thing that you find it really cold in Iceland. On and on during the winter season, spells of warm air crossing the island and melting any ice formation within a few days. This was our third attempt to climb ice in Iceland. We waited with the booking of the flights to the very limit in time to make it as sure as possible to get some good conditions. The winter 2016 in Iceland seemed to be extraordinary good in terms of ice forming, so I contacted some of my friends in Iceland to ask about the conditions. After a warm period in January, the ice was quite damaged, but still there. So we booked the flights and hoped deeply that we have made the right decision.

For the start we drove 600 km to the very northern part of Iceland, where the ice climbing festival was held in Kaldakinn. We took part at the festival with other 40 climbers from Iceland. The place, directly at the sea is one of the most spectacular places for ice climbing. Near the sea the farm from Peter Bjorg (http://www.bjorgum.is/icebjorg/) is located, around 40 km away from any civilisation. We had a great time together with the family Bjorg and all the climbers from all around Iceland. We also could find a couple of new ice formations formed this winter and climbed several first ascents in Kaldakinn, like ‘Sex on the beach’ WI5+, ‘Shooter’ WI4+ at the famous sea cliff and ‘X-files’, “Have no fear, have a skyr’ at the more than 5 km long cliff.

It is very hard to leave this incredibly hospitable and spectacular place Kaldakinn. But our journey had to go on to look for some more challenges at the east fjords. At ‘Mjoeyri’ we found a good place to stay at Sævar’s huts, the ‘king of the east fjords’ ind Eskifjördur. But the golf stream was active again – an extremely heavy rain front destroyed all the ice at the sea cliffs of the east fjords. We climbed a 1000 m alpine line at Holmartindur, than left the east fjords to find some other possibilities on the south side of the island. Also there was the rain quite disappointing. But we still found a challenging line in Hof, Palli’s pillar, an incredible steep cigar.

After 3000 km we already have been back to Reykjavik to spend the rest of the trip on the west side. Also the end of the trip was like the start, we still found several new possibilities. After a real adventure in the 200 meter deep canyon of Glymur, where we abseiled down into the gorge first to climb out of a very impressing place where you can feel the power of the nature near the strong water flow of the never freezing center part we could climb two more challenging first ascents. One one hand we have been in Austurárdalur at the right time on the right place. A more than 10 year old project formed and we could climb it straight away. We gave this quite dangerous, unstable and ultrasteep formation the grade WI7- and called it ‘Tröll leikhus’. Someone should give very much attention to the right moment for this climb, also the crux on the transition between the ice columns and the ice roof has to be climbed in a very gentle style to keep the formations stability alive. On the other hand we could finish our trip with the first ascent of ‘Hard five’ M8/WI6+, a sport multipitch mixed route at the new crag Bolakletur. At the end it was an intense and impressive trip to Iceland with more climbing action as expected.

Name

Grade

Date

Area

First ascent

Stekkjastaur

WI5/6

13.2.16

Kaldakinn

 

X-files

WI6, M6

13.2.16

Kaldakinn

X

Sex on the beach

WI5+

14.2.16

Kaldakinn

X

Shooter

WI4+

15.2.16

Kaldakinn

?

Have no fear, have a skyr

WI6+, M7

15.2.16

Kaldakinn

X

Houseline

WI5

17.2.16

Eskifjördur

?

Palli‘s pillar

WI5

20.2.16

Hof/Bæjargil

 

Glymur

WI5

22.2.16

Glymsdal

 

Tröll leikhús

WI7-

23.2.16

Austurárdalur

X

Hard five

WI6+, M8

24.2.16

Bolakletur

X

 

 

© 2015 Mag. Albert Leichtfried - Meteorologe - Bergführer - Extremkletterer
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