Friday, August 13, 2010

Our Iceland Saga: Climbing Adventures

While the entire trip was wonderful, without a doubt our single favorite day was the day that we hired a private guide to take us climbing!

We had intended to spend the whole day rock climbing and I had had several email exchanges with our guide ahead of time, planning out exactly what we might do. The US and Iceland use the same numeric system for rating the difficulty of a climb, but he warned me that the climbs in Iceland would be more difficult than we expected for a given rating. He wasn't kidding! Here I am on a supposedly easy, "warm-up" climb:

Based on the rating and our experience in the US, it should have been trivial. But, I hate to admit, it kicked my butt!

In the US, a climb is rated based on its single most difficult move. After this experience, I concluded that, in Iceland, each climb is rated based on its single easiest move! Yikes!

Our second climb went more smoothly:

Sadly, most easy climbs (in the US, at least) get pretty pansy-ish names. It's hard to go back home and impress your friends by casually mentioning that you climbed "Cotton Candy" or "Summer Rain" on your vacation. ;)

But not this climb - nosiree, Bob. In addition to the fact that it is a not-too-difficult, wonderfully fun, 90-foot romp up incredible rock - it also has a kick-a** name! It is called "The Guillotine"! It gets its name from the hole near the top, which apparently reminded someone of the neck slot in a guillotine.

As we were doing this second climb, it began to rain on us pretty heavily. So our guide suggested that we go try some ice climbing. Thus, as Summerset so presciently guessed in yesterday's comment section, the axe involved was an ice axe! :)

First was the hike across the glacier. That was so cool! It is so much more interesting to walk on one (dodging crevasses, etc.) than it is to look at one... ;)

Then, the climbing - here are 2 shots of my husband on his first ice climb.

At the very bottom, looking up:

Almost at the top:

Here I am on the same first climb:

And on our second climb, trying to get over an overhang. ;)

So, if taking up rock climbing as your hobby is a silly thing to do when one lives in flat, flat Florida, taking up ICE climbing is even more ridiculous! We had an absolutely wonderful day, but I don't think we'll be rushing to do more ice climbing in the future. ;)

If you can stand it, I have one more week's worth of pictures from Iceland. Monday I'll start with shots that focus on the geothermal aspects of the country.

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! :)


sami said...

wow, amazing photographs. I would absolutely love to go to Iceland and to climb the glaciers. Thanks for sharing!

Summerset said...

Aha! I was right! We have quite a bit of ice climbing here in the winter. It is something I'd like to try, but the gear can be expensive - $2,000-$4,000 to be outfitted properly. I see from your pictures that you're using the ice axe in two ways. One, the traditional mountaineering way on the glacial traverse to test the ice and possibly arrest a fall and two, using a pair to actually climb the ice. Did you have two different kinds of ice axes? I know there is a different in type (and price!) of ice axes. I'm also guessing you had some wicked crampons, too!

Karin said...

Look at you!

Anonymous said...

Well, even if the Ice climbing wasn't as exciting, it looks really cool!!!