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Ice climbing in Iceland

Spring 95

My name is Olli Thorsson (olli@pharmaco.is) and I live in Iceland. I live in the capital city Reykjavik and not many people know how many great ice climbing sites there are around here. Our grading is may be different from yours. We have, for example, one gorge 35min drive from Reykjavik where you can get 190m (620ft) of vertical ice cliffs (86-90 degrees). In this gourge there are many potential grade 6 technical climbing routes but nobody has been crazy enough to try them. In stead we have been climbing the grade 5 climbs first before we try the harder ones. I can send you some pictures if you are interested but this is just one of many ice climbing sites situated less than an hour drive from Reykjavik. Some of us climb 2-3 times a week and sometimes we climb during the night in the dark. That is a lot of fun and quite different from a day time climb. The temperature is usually just around 32F and it rarely gets very cold over here. On the other hand we can expect any kind of weather but it is OK because we are never very far from our car. We are now currently making a home page for the Icelandic Alpine club. Most of the climbers here are members of the Icelandic Alpine club. We are interrested in promoting ice climbing in Iceland not for tourists but for dedicated climbers. We like to climb with good climbers, not tourists. We are currently discovering a new climbing site in the north cost of Iceland where there are potential 30-50 routes 130-180m long. Most of these routes are vertical or near vertical from the bottom to the top. We have only done about 8 routes there now so most of it is unclimbed. This site is a great one since you can almost drive under them (5-10min walking from car). Ice climbing is very young sport in Iceland so there are a lot of sites like this to be discovered. If you want more infos. e-mail me.

Spring 98

I just wanted to write this e-mail to thank you for the tremendous help you have done to promote ice climbing in Iceland. You might be very surprised to hear this but the strory is following. Two or three years ago I sent you an e-mail about ice climbing in Iceland and didn't think of putting in on the web. You however put it on your homepage(Ice climbing in Iceland). From there Dougald MacDonald from Rock & Ice picked it up and contacted me about making an article on ice climbing in Iceland. They were here February last year Dougald and Bill Hatcher. The article about ice climbing in Iceland appeared in the Jan-Feb issue of R&I and from there the ball really started to roll. Since January there have been quite a few ice climbers coming here: Jeff Lowe, Guy Lacelle, Jay Smith, Kitty Calhoun, Manu Ibarra(French), Christophe Moulin(French with the Grivel team), Will Gadd, and more. Before this January Iceland was sporting one M6+ route as it's hardest route. Now it is different: there have been done 6-8 M6-M6+ routes three M7 routes one WI6 and one WI6+ route along with M8+ route Will Gadd did and one route he did and refuses to grade but simply says: It is by far the hardest route I have ever done in my life. From January there have been between 50-60 first ascents done here despite the fact that this has been the worst winter for ice climbing in years. All this has put Iceland on the map so to speak.


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