Glacier hiking & ice climbing in Iceland

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I am not an athletic person and extremely scared of heights, so when my friends decided that they wanted to go ice climbing during our trip to Iceland, I was (to say the least) extremely hesitant! We found a tour through Arctic Adventures that was a slightly daunting combination of ice glacier hiking and ice climbing. It looked really fun, so I figured that I would suck it up, be daring and try something new.

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First was the glacier hike. Little did I know how hard it was going to be! It was an odd experience trying to walk in the special hiking shoes with giant spikes sticking out of the front of them. The shoes made walking extremely difficult, but I had a feeling those spikes would come in handy very soon. The guide took us in a single line all across the glacier, however my lack of athleticism showed, so I struggled along at the back of the group. We made a few stops along the hike, while our tour guide explained some fun facts to us about the glaciers and Iceland in general. Those breaks were a godsend, as they gave me a much needed opportunity to catch my breathe! During one of our stops, my friend Marissa said that she thought it was too easy of a hike. Hmmmm…. I did not agree!

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We started hiking downhill to the bottom of the glacier and that’s when I first spotted the giant wall of ice we were about to climb up. Truthfully it wasn’t anything too extreme, because this particular hike was for beginners, however for me it felt like I was about to attempt to climb Mount Everest! We only climbed up two at a time, so I sat back and watched others climb up first. I was definitely not going to be one of the first people to climb up. My friend Anna went before me and she handled most of the climb with ease, but she did have a hard time getting to the top towards the end, as that was definitely the trickiest part of the climb. My seemingly sporty friend Marissa went next and zoomed up the wall, as if she was climbing up a set of stairs. If you blinked you would have missed her.

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It was finally time for me to step up and go. I almost chickened out, but I knew I would regret it, plus of course my friends had managed to do it, so my mini ego left me with no choice. I got all strapped in and was ready to conquer the ice wall! Womp, womp… I could barley stick the spikes into the wall! I didn’t realize how hard you have to dig the shoe spikes and ice pick into the ice. I moved upwards, slowly making my way up the wall, but I did get stuck a few times to the point where I was literally unable to move up or down. All I was thinking of was the possibility of falling to what would be certain doom! Then I actually missed while trying to pull myself up and fell off the wall! I completely freaked out and was shall we say slightly dramatic about it, but I was of course fine as the tour guide had a strong grip on my safety rope. After that first initial slip, I fell off the wall so many times during my climb up, it almost became routine.

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I was so nervous that my legs were shaking, which didn’t help the climb at all. I still cannot believe how quickly Marissa managed to do it. I eventually made it to the top of the wall and was so proud of myself until I looked down and remembered where I was and how terrified I am of heights… now get me down! I tried to climb my way down the wall, but of course slipped and ended up sliding almost upside down, all the way to the bottom. It took me so long to get to the top, but that tumble sure did make going down a lot faster! My guide had a grip on me though, so I didn’t get hurt. It was quite an adventure and definitely the single most “daredevil” thing I have ever done. Even though I had a hard time, because I literally have the strength of a baby bird, I still really enjoyed myself! I am really glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave this tour a try.

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Thank you to Arctic Adventures for providing our tour. All opinions are, as always, my own.

16 thoughts on “Glacier hiking & ice climbing in Iceland

  1. Suddenly, ice-climbing looks a bit scary! 😛 I’d still give it a shot though. My biggest fear in the snow is that of losing sensation in the fingers & toes!

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  2. Okay…so you say this was for beginners, but it’s looking quite advanced from these pictures LOL Love to see these adventures through your eyes. Great post!

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  3. What an amazing experience! So COOL! Where can I sign up to be your travel partner! Seriously, you have had some amazing experiences!

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  4. Ice Climbing has been my dream over the years, but I have never had a chance so far. Your pictures are amazing that I would push myself to fulfill the dream so sooner. I am sure you must have had one of those wonderful experiences to cherish in lifetime.

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  5. I loved reading this article and most of all enjoy your sense of humor. You really know how to put a smile on “this” reader’s face. You are pure pleasure !

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  6. First of all, I would never even consider doing this but I admire that you didn’t give up. And best yet…you got the pictures to prove it! Well done and congrats! 😉 You’re so cute.

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  7. So glad you posted this, we were considering pretty much the same trip this winter but have had to postpone it for now…think we’ll definitely have to give it a go, looks so much fun (and I’m sure I’d be even worse at getting up that wall!!). Well done!

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  8. Now I have to give it a shot! For me outdoor activities include sunsets and sipping wine LOL But your post was definitely inspiring. Plus how can I go to Iceland and not do something like this? PS – Are they kind if you can’t make it to the top? Just asking… 😀

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  9. I’m also afraid of heights, and not a fan of the cold at all – but climbing on glaciers looks like an incredibly awesome time! Definitely something I’ll be doing when I find myself in a cold enough place 🙂

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  10. I’m one of those weirdos who loves heights, so this is right up my alley! Although you struggled, I’m so glad that you felt it was worth it. It’s always amazing to go out of your comfort zone and accomplish something new! Plus, what a beautiful setting!

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  11. Are you already athletic in terms of a beginner or can you literally be a beginner for that tour? Gotta say it is pretty badass of you!

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