Vatnajökull Glacier Crossing
11 days with PolarExplorers Rating:
A busy day as we review group gear, group food and expedition logistics. The afternoon may be free to gather lastminute items in town. We will gather for dinner at a local restaurant. Day 2: A very early start to the day as we transfer by private super truck to Vatnajökull. The transfer can take 5-8 hours depending on off road conditions. The first 2 hours are on highway, then we turn off and head towards the highlands and Vatnajökull’s west edge. We hope to start skiing in the early afternoon.
The first few days allow us to settle into our routine. We awake, make breakfast, melt snow for our daily water provisions and break camp. Our skiing for the first two days is primarily east. As we gradually ascend the glacier the nunataks and mountains to the north and south fade away. On the fourth day we will turn to the north and ski the final ascent to the Grimsfjall Hut on the caldera of the Grimsvötn Volcano.
A layover day to relax and enjoy the Grimsfjall Hut. In the afternoon we will review glacial travel techniques in preparation for the coming days. Day 6: Departing Grimsvötn we descend back onto the undulating glacier. Today is one of our longer days with 15+ miles of skiing. In good visibility we might enjoy riding our pulks down some of the gentle hills, like toboggans.
As we arrive at Hermannaskaro Pass we will make a decision about our route. If weather conditions are favorable for the coming days we will ascend towards Öraefajökull, an ice- covered volcano on the southern edge of Vatnajökull. This is home to Hvannadalshnukur, the highest peak in Iceland at 2,110 meters (6,920 ft). If weather conditions are variable (as is typically the case) we will follow the good weather down the spectacular Breioamerkurjökull Glacier, which is a famous outlet glacier of Vatnajökull. Either way this marks the transition from purely glacial terrain to terrain that is more alpine in nature. We will see mountains on either side of our route. The prominent sub glaciers that exit Vatnajökull can also be seen with their crevasse fields and dark streaks of volcanic ash.
A beautiful day of skiing with incredible scenery no matter which route we take. Mountains, icefalls, and distant views of the ocean can be seen on a clear day. The terrain is crevassed so we will be traveling in a rope team(s) and choosing our routes carefully. If we have ascended to Öraefajökull and if the weather forecast remains good we will prepare for an early morning optional ascent of Hvannadalshnukur tomorrow. This is a non-technical ascent but it does require excellent weather, which can be elusive.
Today we descend off the glacier. If we are descending off the Breioamerkurjökull Glacier the descent is gradual yet exciting with sounds of rushing water increasing as we reach the glacier’s terminus. If we are descending from Öraefajökull our descent will be steep, and, depending on conditions, either on snow or on a combination of snow and hiking path. In case of the latter we must be prepared to carry our sled bags and sleds as backpacks. From our ending point we will be transferred to a local guesthouse where we will enjoy hot showers and a night indoors.
A bus transfer will bring us back to Reykjavik where we will spend our final night enjoying a celebratory dinner and the comfort of a hotel.
The official end of the expedition. Transfer to Keflavik airport or stay on in Iceland for further adventures!
All This Included
Join PolarExplorers on an incredible 11 day crossing of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Located in south west Iceland, Vatnajökull covers 8,100 square km of snow and ice and boasts numerous volcanoes including Grímsvötn (Iceland’s most active volcano) and Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m).
This spectacular glacier offers the perfect location for this classic ski/pulk adventure. Like its polar cousins Vatnajökull has unpredictable weather with potential for strong winds and precipitation. On clear days the views are stunning with rocky nunataks and mountain peaks surrounding the glacier.
You will be traveling expedition style, camping in tents with potentially two nights at the famous Grimsfjall Hut (complete with a geothermal wet sauna) perched high atop the caldera of the Grímsvötn volcano. The ease of travel to Iceland makes this expedition a breeze to plan and the relatively short duration means that you can go from door to door inside of two weeks.
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.