Getting Sandblasted on the Long Walk in.
The Summit of Snaefelljokul – Honest

Position N64,53.76 x W023,42.20 Wind SE Gale Force 9

It was not a good day to go sailing or climbing, so we decided to go climbing.

On Saturday we woke at 07:00 after a disturbed night on the tyre wall. The wind had really got up and we were being blown against it with such might that even my Uber Fender wasn’t able to cope without much line tweaking. We brewed up a large pot of coffee and made bacon, tomato and banana sandwiches. I have Peter Mercer to thank for the suggestion of adding banana to our bacon sandwiches. They tasted very good indeed. At 09:00 the Thembi crew arrived ready to tackle the climb up Snaefelljokull. At over 1400 m it is about the same height as Ben Nevis but with a much longer walk in. It is also one of the seven “Power Centres” in the world. We inquired what kit we would need and were told to bring ice axes but not crampons. As the Thembi crew are our climbing mentors we probably would have put on our swimming gear if they suggested it.

By 09:30 we were heading out of Olafsvik towards the hills. I have been learning a lot about being in the mountains on this trip, it is great to have really experienced mountaineers to learn from. Although the Sumara crew didn’t let the side down, after walking for a couple of hours, Sarah said “I’ve got a map”. The Thembi crew were wowed with amazement “A map! That’s amazing, let’s have a look. Wow!” Sarah, got out the free tourist office map and we all stood around staring at it. They were suitably impressed with Sarah’s efficiency. Dan put it in his pocket but I never saw it again until I asked where exactly we had been in the bar afterwards. It seems the way to tackle these mountains is to enter two waypoints into a handheld GPS (although Tim will have nothing to do with such gadgets). The first waypoint is the summit of the mountain and the other is the boat. Every time we think we are lost, a GPS is warmed up and they say “Head that way a bit more”. It seems that geological features are just tackled as they come along.

The dirt track was windy, very windy indeed! If I could have persuaded Sumara Charlotte to take off her boots she could have sandblasted her toe nails and saved the bother of the search for acetone. I took a little video. Stuart walked past the camera, then a huge cloud of dust flew across the screen and Stuart re-entered the screen staggering backwards! The wind was stronger on the track than it was once we turned off across the varied terrain towards the summit. I really enjoyed the day despite the wind. There was some pleasant glacier walking with a bit of axe work on the steeper bits. After six hours we reached the summit and the supposed entrance to the centre of the earth. The thick cloud meant we couldn’t see anything at all so we took the team photos and started to descend. I learned the correct method of descending steep ice slopes. Apparently you just ski down in your climbing boots shouting “Yippee!!”, as the gradient levels off you change from skiing into a manic uncontrollable run and finally make a secure stop by falling flat on your face. I’m pretty sure Dave Hollinger taught us a different method but I could be wrong.

At 18:45 after 9 ¾ hours of walking we arrived back at Olafsvik were the skippers went off to check the yachts and the rest retired to the bar for a well deserved drink. We haven’t been following the news but when we saw the Icelandic flags at half mast we inquired why. We were all deeply shocked to hear about the awful news from Norway, a country which is home to so many of our friends and which has always treated us so well. We retired to our yachts in a sombre mood.

Before going below we added some long mooring warps to the fishing boats to help haul Sumara off the wall and one of the kind fisherman from the “Karl Magnus” lent us two massive fenders. Despite the foul night of furious winds and rain we all slept snug in our cosy berths.
The weather looks bad for Sunday but there is a small window of opportunity to leave for Reykjavik on Monday before more fierce weather heads our way. I think we will head off very early in the morning.

3 Responses

  1. John will be sad to have missed the skiing down the mountain side in his boots, shall inform him immediatley, he is back at work!

  2. Well done on Sarah having a map, I like her do not rely on technology to find my way around, and have rarely got lost!


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