To Walk on Ice

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

Many of the advertisements state: “Feel what it’s like to walk on ice!”

And dude, I already know that feeling. Better than most. Having grown up with insufferable winters in the vast north of Canada, plus spending most of my youth embroiled in a competitive sport on ice, I know it all too well. As such, I regularly curse it for its natural chill (unless in cubed form inside my drink) and for the cause of instability (I’ve taken my fair share of spills on the slippery surface).

Thus I honestly wasn’t expecting much from a glacier walk in Iceland. That was until I grabbed the crampons and pick axe, which instantly made me feel like a bad-ass.

Glacier-Walk-Iceland-4
Glacier-Walk-Iceland-9
Glacier-Walk-Iceland-6

Perhaps Pete should not be given sharp things.

Glacier-Walk-Iceland-5
Glacier-Walk-Iceland-7

We fortunately had decent enough weather for our three-hour excursion (and by “decent” I mean only moderate rain and fog), such that we were able to enjoy tramping around on the rugged surface of the Sólheimajökull Glacier.

This is no place to mess around given the many crevices that looked deceptively small, but could give way to a depth of 150 meters. We listened carefully to the extensive safety tips and practiced how to handle walking on a variety of angles, all the while driving our crampons with force into the top layer of ice for grip.

Arctic Adventures Blue Ice

Black volcanic dirt builds up on the massive glacier that is 8km long and 1 to 2 km wide. The bluer it is, the more compressed the ice is as a result of the accumulation of fallen snow.

Ice Walking Iceland 12

Glacier-Walk-Iceland-3

The real challenge of the walk came to a wall, when we all were given the chance to climb up it.

Glacier-Walk-Iceland-14
Glacier-Walk-Iceland-13
Ice Walking Iceland 1

I’m pretty sure I mastered proper use of the pick-axe (perhaps I should not be given sharp objects also), but still struggled to get up and over the edge to victory. We both found ourselves almost stepping out of our hiking boots (not quite suitable for this task!) as we got further up the wall.

That was a good challenge, and just a part of the reason why this tour gave me a newfound respect for the formidable nature of ice – for being so much more than the annoying thing I chipped off of driveways or lost my footing on.

My favourite form may still be a cube in a drink, but this was pretty damn cool too.

Many thanks to Arctic Adventures for this outstanding complimentary excursion called “Blue Ice”. All opinions, as always, are our own.
27 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • September 30 2013

    WOW! That sure is one big ice cube! Amazing how beautiful the ice really is. How does the volcanic ash settle on top? Is there an active volcano close by?

    • October 4 2013

      It actually sits on top of a volcano. If it ever decided to blow, it could happen that the entire glacier gets lifted and moved!

  • September 30 2013

    Cool! I was so excited to have my first crampon experience while glacier hiking in Alaska, but I still haven’t had the joy of using a pick axe. Scaling an ice wall looks like a lot of fun.
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..September Roundup: Heading Back to the Lone Star State!

  • September 30 2013

    Those crampons sure look dangerous! The pickaxes are pretty badass too. Although something about them reminds me of the seven dwarfs… 🙂

  • September 30 2013

    Awesome! We went glacier hiking on Sólheimajökull Glacier when we were in Iceland too. It’s pretty amazing seeing those crevices and the ice caves. Glad to hear you had decent weather! I can’t imagine doing it in the rain.
    Jennifer recently posted..A Picture of Russian Peasant Life #gAdvRussia

  • What a truly awesome experience!

  • Jackie
    September 30 2013

    This looks like an incredible experience! Great photos.

  • Pratibha
    October 1 2013

    Those are some serious crampons. Well done!

  • Beth
    October 1 2013

    This looks so amazing! Climbing that ice wall looks pretty tough, glad you had good weather to do it in though!

  • Sam
    October 1 2013

    I sort of assumed that once you’ve seen one glacier, you’ve seen them all…but this looks nothing like the glaciers I’ve seen here in South America! The deep blue and veins of black are really not at all what I think of when I think ‘glacier’.

    • October 4 2013

      We’ve seen so many glaciers but this is the first one we’ve walked on. Now I want to go back and see them all up close.

  • Renuka
    October 2 2013

    The pictures look so awesome…it’s like another world! How do you prepare for such unusual trips? I mean, I am sure you need to get accustomed to the climate and air…

    • October 4 2013

      Being Canadian, we are used to all kinds of extremes. 🙂

  • October 3 2013

    Wow! Great read! We would like to go on an ice escape really soon. We have been traveling on caribbean climates and this one is really adventurous from our point of view. Definitely a good read! Thanks guys! Would definitely consider this in our itinerary!
    [email protected] recently posted..Cahuita National Park – Costa Rica

  • October 4 2013

    When I went on a glacier walk I wasn’t sure about all the equipment, until the guide explained that the more equipment, the more badass we would looked. It was totally true.
    Jess recently posted..Capture the Color!

    • October 4 2013

      Haha, I agree! Except for the orange helmet maybe. 🙂

  • October 4 2013

    Wow that looks incredible. I may be too lazy for the uphill stuff but walking flat would be fun.
    Ayngelina recently posted..How to put a lobster to sleep

  • October 4 2013

    Glaciers and deserts are two of my favorite places to be, no matter where. 😉 Awesome!
    Juno recently posted..Runaway Photo: Scenes of Jodhpur – Rajasthan, India

  • October 4 2013

    Ahhh, I love Iceland so much! I didn’t try the glacier walk thing… I was there in the summer so I don’t remember it being advertised too heavily.

    PS: You have a typo in the first word of the first paragraph (I would want to know! 🙂 )

    • October 4 2013

      Alex – where? I am completely blind, I don’t see it! 🙂

      • October 4 2013

        Ha! I am wrong. Slap my hand 😛 I was just rereading that first “ad dude” part!”

  • October 4 2013

    Looks like fun! I’ve always wanted to try this.
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Bromances, Grooming Habits, and other Random Observations from the Serengeti

  • October 4 2013

    You guys look ready for business. I am shivering right now in northern California. Something tells me I should stick to the ice in cocktails, although your photos are so gorgeous they could convince anyone to try!

  • October 6 2013

    That climb would kill me too but wow, how amazing of an experience. 🙂

  • October 8 2013

    You keep doing stuff I don’t think I would ever do, then you convince me to stifle the inner chicken in me and just do it. How cool!

  • October 10 2013

    Hey guys,

    this looks like a great day – I did Galcier walking in Patagonia while hiking for a few days. It felt really weird if you imagine walking on this huge amount of ice!

    Great photos!

Join the conversation…

CommentLuv badge

css.php