Exploring Glaciers in Iceland

Glacier hiking in Iceland is an adventurous and fun way to see this unusual country.

Hiking on Sólheimajökull Glacier. Photo by Gina Kremer
Hiking on Sólheimajökull Glacier. Photo by Gina Kremer

In a country where 11 percent of the land mass is comprised of glaciers, the curious traveler in Iceland is afforded a rainbow of adventurous options.

For those looking to get their feet wet on the ice, there is glacier hiking. If you’re looking for a vertical challenge, ice climbing awaits.

For hardened adventurers seeking lengthier exploring, you can climb Iceland’s tallest glacier, Hvannadalshnúkur standing tall at 6,900 ft. Glacier traveling courses teach how to hone your skills on the ice and what to do if you fall in a crevasse.

Can’t decide? Take a six-day course and cover all your bases.

As an experienced hiker without experience on glaciers, I decided a glacier hike would be the right fit for me.

I have snow-shoed around a caldera lake, summited mountains, and spent hundreds of miles trudging through the forest.

Why not add glaciers to the list?

Glacier Hiking in Iceland

As you can imagine, December in Iceland can be a bit cold. The 20-40 degrees during the sunlight was tolerable. After the sun went down, I bundled up like an Eskimo and imagined warm fires. If you’re having doubts, let me stop you there – anyone who has experienced typical winter weather can handle Iceland. Don’t let your fear of frosty temps stop you from exploring the beauty that awaits.

During the days prior to my hike, I learned that once or twice a week, the weather in Iceland is incredibly unforgiving. The skies open and shower sleet and rain, all while gale force winds take your breath away. Winds so powerful in fact, there are occasional warnings issued to parents advising they hold tight to their children outside.

On the day of the hike, I couldn’t have been more grateful the winds were calm, the sky clear, and the sun shining.

Hiking guide in Iceland
The author, right, and climbing guide Helga (left) Photo by Gina Kremer

Our knowledgeable, funny, and patient tour guide named Helga guided us to the fourth largest glacier in Iceland, Sólheimajökull. Helga was also in the process of completing her doctorate, with a focus on geology and glaciology.

A knowledgeable guide who was passionate about glaciers? Jackpot.

Sólheimajökull was a two-hour ride from Reykjavik, located in the center of the southern coast of Iceland.

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