Snæfellsjökull after Solstice

By | 23/06/2012

One day, when we were tossing around ideas on what to do during summer solstice, one of us mentioned that a traditional Icelandic thing to do would be to hike the famous trail from Þórsmörk to Skogar overnight. However, we had just done Laugarvegur the year before and set out to do it again this year (this time as a non-stop hike), so we did not feel particularly thrilled about that idea. However, I think it was Rory, who then suggested that we could summit Snæfellsjökull and observe sunset and -rise from it’s top plateau. We were all pretty fired up on this, for a multitude of reasons, really, and so wet set out to ascent it during solstice. Unfortunately busy times at work meant that we could not leave the office on the actual solstice, but do it just a day later.

Thus came Friday. After my usual lunch time football session I quickly grabbed my equipment and met the others at the office where we swiftly left towards Snæfellsnes peninsula to attend “an important meeting”. For the first time I actually saw loads of freely roaming sheep on or near the road we were driving, which probably says more about me not leaving Reykjavik often enough in the summer than anything else, and after a few hours we arrived at the starting point of the trail. I was quiet excited as this was my first “real” glacier ascend.

Even though Snæfellsjökull is rather small and sadly, like all the other glaciers on our planet, retreating way too quickly, then it has some crevassed areas that one has to cross with care, so this

yielded an exercise in roping up. Eventually we managed to get up to the top plateau a lot quicker than we first imagined, so we shoveled ourselves some sitting holes using our ice axes and waited another almost 2 hours for the magic moment. It was a reminder that we should have taken the hot dogs, which we had planned to eat after the hike, with us for a warm snack while passing time. Hindsight is indeed 20/20 as they say.

Then the magic moment arrived. The cracking of ice was already a constant background noise in the quietness high above the sea, but it suddenly intensified. Swirling sounds of snow slowly warming up and raising as a mist which should soon form clouds. A hazy, warm orange broke through, slowly rising in a breath taking way.

Sun rise just after the solstice, just below the north polar circle

More pictures of the magic moments up there during sunset and sunrise can be found in Alex’s and Gary’s flickr sets.

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