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Haukadalur, Iceland

Skálagil

Ice climbing on Ultima Thule.

“Nature understands no fun at all, it is always true, always serious, always severe; it has always right, and errors and mistakes are always made by people.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe –

Traveling to Iceland in winter for ice climbing holds many uncertainties. Uncertain are the very short-term and extreme temperature- and rainfall-variabilities and thus constantly changing ice conditions and avalanche problems. This affects especially areas close to the coast. Furthermore, most of the icefalls aren’t documented yet, only few areas are known and developed. Therefore the potential for first ascents is huge. Our goals: climbing some of the best icefalls of Iceland, trying to explore unknown areas and climbing new lines. The problem in searching new territory is mainly the short daytime – in February the sun showes up around 10:30 in the morning. Therefore Iceland’s geographical location gives us a short calculated timetable.

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

We spend the first days of our trip in Reykjavík. Here we meet up with Skarphéðinn Halldórsson from the Icelandic Alpine Club (ÍSALP). He is in charge of the documentation of the climbing areas and every first ascent on Iceland. Together we discuss the current situation on the island.

We have our first contact with Icelandic ice in the area Brynjudalur in the Bay of Hvalfjörður, just an hour north of Reykjavík. This area is still not very common. For the first time we learn what makes ice climbing in Iceland so unique: there is a profound silence across the country. Only you and your partner experiencing adventure in a great solitude.

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

We head on to Haukadalur, a barely populated valley near the west coast of Iceland. Here we stay at the farm Stóra Vatnshorn. From there it isn’t far to the top climbing spot Skálagil. The area is hidden away in the southeastern end of the valley, the access on steep slopes is quite laboriously and takes a lot of time. But it is worth the effort. Marco and I succeed in climbing a great route by Will Gadd: Brasilian Gully, WI5/5+. Today we manage very elegant climbing routes in a beautiful ambience: a bizarre amphitheater, frozen in ice.

Key Information Brynjudalur

Let’s check the location:

Ascent:

February 6th, 2009, together with Marco Hardiman

First ascent:

“Without a guide”: Gunter Dönges, Waldemar Rummler on February 6th, 2009

Starting point:

From Reykjavík, heading north on Road #1 to the fjord Hvalfjörður, then on its southern side on Road #47, park your car just before the bridge (signpost Brynjudalsvegur) nearby a fence. The icefalls are 150 m above sea level, approach 20 min.

GPS coordinates:

N 64° 21' 02", W 21° 23' 57" (» Google Maps)

Difficulty:

WI3; there are about 10 routes with a beautiful view of the fjord

Height:

100 m, 2 pitches

Route equipment:

Rappel anchors must be installed by yourself, there are no trees or even drilled rappel anchors.

» ÍSALP – Icelandic Alpine Club (www.isalp.is)

» ÍSALP – overview of areas and routes (www.isalp.is …)

» Icelandic Meteorological Office (en.vedur.is …)

Key Information Haukadalur

Ascent:

February 7th, 2009, together with Marco Hardiman

First ascent:

“Brasilian Gully”: Will Gadd, Kim Ciszmazia on March 28th, 1998

Starting point:

The farm Stóra-Vatnshorn is located at the lake Haukadalsvatn, south of Mount Vatnsfjall. From Reykjavík, heading north on Road #1, then Road #60 direction Búðardalur, then Road #586 to the farm. The icefalls are located on the south side of the valley.

GPS coordinates:

N 65° 03' 11", W 21° 24' 46" (» Google Maps)

Difficulty:

About 60 routes in the range of WI3–M9

Route equipment:

Rappel anchors must be installed by yourself, there are no trees or even drilled rappel anchors.

Our route highlights:

» Brasilian Gully, Brennivín/Black Death from Will Gadd (not repeated so far)

Recommended place to stay:

Farm Stóra-Vatnshorn
371 Búðardalur, Haukadalur
Phone: +354-434-1342, Mobile: +354-894-0999
Email: storavatnshorn@islandia.is

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Further information:

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First Ascents
on Snæfellsnes