Klifursvæði - or climbing on Iceland

by Peter Dittert

Economic crisis…Then we can afford an expensive vacation this year.
Iceland wouldn't be bad. Has long been on the list and there's something to climb too. Although it's a family vacation, but 2-3 days of climbing I can definitely scrape out.

After appropriate investigation, I find out that traveling by own car and ferry the most laborious, but also the cheapest option is. Saves at least € 1000. On 03 July we go. Thanks to good planning, we are now going to spend the three hottest weeks of the year in the wonderful temperate climate Islands. Before that quickly torn down nearly 1000 km to Hanstholm / Denmark and the 2 days on the ferry and we are already there.
That’s the beginning of two weeks where one natural wonder is chasing the next one. But I don’t want to bore anyone at this point. It is, after all, a homepage for climbers. On the 1. day we visit the Jökulsarlon, a magnificent glacier lagoon south of Vatnajökull, with its icebergs and seals…. Sorry!
And on the second day we reach Hnappavallahamrar, the rocks of Hnappavellir.

On Iceland you can also travel by private airplane.

Well, almost. Because 300 meters before the finish the way is blocked by a river. Undressed shoes… waded through ... here I'm not driving through! Isabell breathes easier. Then a little boy comes to us: " Everybody drives through here". And he's gone. 5 minutes later he is back: "You have to drive far left." So, far left waded through again… and deselected as a driveway. Isabell breathes easier. Car placed at the side, backpacks shouldered… Then 2 guys stop with a small Opel: “We always drive trough here”… and drive trough. Of course we, the Skoda Fabia Combi II Classic 63kW 1.4 and I, can not let this sit on us. Stuff back in the car, Isabell breathes heavily… I drive trough… Isabell breathes easier. By the way, later in the evening a car actually get broken in the river. And I also find out that you can stuck here 2-3 days sometimes when the water rises suddenly.
Anyway, now we are here. And we have leisure to take a closer look at this magnificent piece of land. Hnappavallahamrar is an about 4 km long basalt cliff at sea level with wall heights of 8 to 30m. Before that extends to the coast, a 2-3km wide, with rivers and streams through coated strip grassland. At the NO-end of the rock bolt the climbers have build a campground with pit latrine, small hut, a few chairs and barbecue area.
And we have a special luck. Exactly this weekend the Hnappavalla marathon, rather a fun-climbing competition, is taking place. So that 30 of the 150 icelandic climbers are there. Among them are Jon and Stephen, the authors of Klifurhandbok, right, the climbing guide book. I buy this one for just 10 € directly from the producer. Together with the update, I've pulled under http://www.klifur.is/is/klifursvaedi from the net, I have the full view now. Now I know that there are about 150 routes from grade 5.5 to 5.13d (French 4a-8b), at which the biggest part is boltet.
As I said Jon, that there is certainly still room for 200 or more other routes, he said it were not as simple, because you have to read a line on the rock. And he must call to order the young wilds from time to time, because they sometimes burrow too characterless "Direttissimas". So always develop gently. And even this philosophy of him you notice very well when you climb. I’m climbing with Sarah only routes in the area to 5.9, but they are, with 2-3 exceptions, wonderful lines where intersections, edges, ledges, holes and friction climbing are often combined. The only drawback, the difficulty is often defined by a long reach.

Unknown beauty in Hornatango 5.9

Back to everyday life. On Friday evening we had already taken some routes. On Saturday should finally be our first real day of climbing in Iceland, but ... it's raining. Stefan recommends us a hike in the mountains above the climbing area. And so we take a look at a rock bridge and a waterfall. The 20 cm thick mosspads suggest that in this region it’s not the first rain.
When we are down again at 16 o'clock it has stopped raining and the rock is dry. Now we can finally get started. I don't want to hold forth on individual routes because, as Frank Zappa said basically: “Talking about climbing is like dancing about architecture”. We just enjoy it.

Sarah is dancing about architecture either, yet she talks about climbing!

Around 19 o'clock we call together the whole gang. There are grilled salmon trout. For a rather symbolic fee of 2 € we are one of the party. Licorice ice for dessert included. After that, continue climbing. At midnight the call sounds again from the kitchen. Now you can choose between coffee and cocoa. I choose beer and chat with Jon about the economic crisis, EU, elves-commissioner, climbing… At about 2 o’clock I crawl happy and satisfied into my BigPack womans dream. There’s hardly nobody climbing, I think.
On Sunday, we may see the area in bright sunshine. So the climbing is a special pleasure again. However, now the farewell on the afternoon is especially difficult. But we still do want to see a bit of the island. Also Isabell as a non-climber has probably a little crush on the area. Moreover, she sets up with the icelandic serenity. And as we swish through the river, it is hardly to hear she breathe.