To Walk on Ice

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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.

Perhaps Pete should not be given sharp things.

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

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

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.

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  1. 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.

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

  3. 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’.

  4. 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…

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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! 🙂 )

  8. 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!

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