No matter the time of year you visit Iceland, did you know you can ice climb? So if you are an extreme sports enthusiast or someone who loves trying new things, this may be a wonderful journey to embark on. Ice climbing in Iceland is an activity that can really challenge you on all levels. Today we walk you through the best things to know about ice climbing throughout Iceland’s 13 glaciers!
Iceland has 13 Glaciers
Believe it or not only 11% of Iceland is covered in ice! Additionally within that percentage there are 13 main glaciers that are speckled throughout the tiny island in the North Atlantic. For example here are the names of the glaciers and the region of Iceland they can be found in.
- Vatnajökull is the largest glacier and can be found in South to East Iceland.
- Langjökull can be found West Central Iceland and is the second largest glacier in Iceland.
- Hofsjökull is within the middle of the country.
- Mýrdalsjökull can be found in Southern Iceland and our personal favorite glacier!
- Drangajökull is found in the Westfjords region of Iceland.
- Eyjafjallajökull is not only famous for the 2010 eruption that held airline travel hostage but it’s Iceland’s 6th largest. Find it in South Iceland.
- Tungnafellsjökull is a highland glacier in Southern Iceland.
- Þórisjökull is the closest glacier to Reykjavik.
- Eiríksjökull is a small glacier outside of Reykjavik and near to Langjökull.
- Þrándarjökull is the furthest East glacier in Iceland.
- Tindfjallajökull is magical and can be spotted on a clear day while driving through Southern Iceland.
- Torfajökull can be found north of Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
- Snæfellsjökull is by far Iceland’s smallest glacier which can be found in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Which glacier intrigues you to do ice climbing in Iceland?
Glacier Outlets in South Iceland
Over 250 named glacier outlets are apart of the 13 larger glaciers. Don’t worry we won’t bore you with naming them all but we will give you a fantastic example of how that idea works!
To illustrate, Sólheimajökull is the primary and most easily accessed glacier outlet of Mýrdalsjökull. Then there are the lesser known ones Katlajökull, Sandfellsjökull, Oldufellsjökull and a few unnamed others. However, those are only accessed via an super jeep or hiking. Furthermore, you cannot do ice climbing in Iceland on all of them so it’s important to hire a local who knows the area well.
In short, Mýrdalsjökull is a really incredible glacier in Iceland. Why? Because there is a sub-glacier volcano lurking underneath it. Meanwhile another reason is that the glacier is dynamic and often referred to as a “black glacier” because of the black sands that surround it and pummel it.
Types of Iceland Ice Climbing
Meanwhile, when you think about ice climbing what do you think it entails? Likely, you know you’ll be harnessed in, have crampons on your feet, ice axes in your hands, and someone experienced belaying you. On the other hand, what type of ice climbing in Iceland will you embark on?
- Ice Climbing Waterfalls can be an option if the wintertime is cold enough but it can be rare.
- Glacier Ice Climbing in Vik is the most common throughout all of the glaciers in Iceland. Typically you hike for anywhere between 15 minutes to 2+ hours to find the right kind of wall to climb.
- Cavern Ice Climbing is an interesting one. In fact, it is where you repel down into a hole in the glacier and you ice climb out. Can you get more #badass than that? Fun Fact: Most times there isn’t a bottom to the cavern if the temperatures are above freezing.
- Ice Cave Climbing could mean you are climbing the walls inside of an ice cave.
Which type of Iceland ice climbing excites you most? Vik Expeditions would love to help you elevate your adventure!
Gear You Need for Ice Climbing in Vik
Preparing to do ice climbing in Iceland is easy if you have hired a local guide. For example, Vik Expeditions takes time and great care in preparing for your adventure. Hence the wonderful lists below…
What gear Vik Expeditions brings:
- Climbing harness
- Ice Climbing crampons to fit your boots
- Helmet graded for climbing
- Ice Climbing Axes (there is a difference!)
- Ice screws
- Belay devices
- Experienced local Vik ice climbing guide, Davíð Geir Jonasson. He’ll even bring jokes 😉
What Gear You Bring for Ice Climbing in Vik:
- Insulated stiff hiking or ice climbing / mountaineering boots (ideally).
- Gore-Tex Gloves
- Backpack (optional)
- Eye protection (optional)
- A “can do” positive attitude!
Year Round Ice Climbing in Vik
A common question we get asked often is. if ice climbing in Iceland is year round. The answer a bit fat YES! Although you may not be able to climb all 13 glaciers, or the countless outlets, you can give it your best try.
In Vik, our favorite glacier, Mýrdalsjökull actually has options for year round ice climbing that is 100% safe. The only difference between seasons is in winter, you may hike in snow and / or need a 4×4 as transport.
Truly, there is no better feeling than digging your toes into the side of a glacier and working your way up to the top! At the top you enjoy the view and the feeling of being oh-so accomplished! Bravo! Once you’ve conquered that wall a few times and it’s pitches, are you ready to try another?
How to Book Ice Climbing in Iceland
Often people are intimated or scared when they think about booking an ice climbing experience in Iceland. And you know what? That’s okay! Hiring a local guide in Vik for ice climbing will help take all of your worries and anxieties away.
Davíð, the owner of Vik Expeditions makes you feel not only comfortable but empowered as you learn how to ice climb in Iceland. He will take the time to patiently teach you techniques and encourage you as you scale up! Feel free to get in touch for more information on booking your private ice climbing in Iceland and specifically in Vik!
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