Snæfell – Iceland’s highest non-glaciated peak

By | 10/09/2011

This hike was quite an adventure. We left the office on Friday with all our equipment in a rented Landrover Defender around 16:00 to start the 700 km drive towards mount Snæfell in the east, just a few kilometers north of the famous Vatnajökull glacier. After a typical drive down the south and up the east coast we decided to short-cut a little and take the infamous road 939 over Öxi to shave about a 75 kilometers off that we would have to drive extra to go around the next Fjord.

Snæfell summit pictureThis road is certainly not for insecure drivers, or those without a suitable car as it is very steep and narrow, and has a huge amount of blind spots so that you are constantly clueless if there are cars coming towards you. And you seriously do not want to drive off of the road, though that is only possible on the side with the drop of up to a few hundred feet anyway. No idea how Rory felt driving up and down that road with the rest of us in the car, but when I drove it downhill a few months later in a VW Golf I did it very slowly as it was incredibly scary.

Anyhow, as night broke and our journey led us off of Highway 1 and onto Road 931 then I saw the real Northern Lights for the first time in my life. In Reykjavik we do occasionally get our share of green dancing lights, but here we had all the colours of a rainbow. The Auroras kept dancing for hours, slightly delaying our journey as we occasionally stopped in the cold, empty night to enjoy the spectacle. It was also getting quite late and started to snow, so we called the warden of the hut where we planned on staying overnight. The warden recommended that we should just camp in the car and try getting to the hut in the morning, but we just drove on to greet a somewhat surprised Icelander upon arrival. Needless to say he felt very comfortable with us hiking the mountain the next day. Well, “the next day” really was just 5 hours later, as we wanted to get an early start.

The hike itself was pretty demanding but technically very easy, except for the last 300 or so meters of ascent. This final bit meant that I finally got to use the crampons and ice ax I had bought a few months earlier. And while putting those on, Charles decided it would be a good idea to drop his water bottle, and we could observe it slide down quite a few meters. Oh well, we picked it up for him on the way down, as he decided to ski the descent. Sadly it was a very harsh white out and pretty cold when we arrived at the top, so we just took a quick picture, wrote our names in the peak’s guestbook and made our way back to the hut.

Also, here are some pictures Gary took.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *