Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Andy Blackett in Iceland

During October half term, I took my second trip of the year to Iceland, hoping to enjoy some of the amazing sights and smells that are on offer in this most remote corner of Europe.  After booking flights and an old Land Rover camper van (nicknamed Maggie - our very own Iron Landy), we heard news that there was a significant volcanic eruption in the interior.  All roads are closed in the interior due to snow at this time of year so we booked on a scenic flight to take a look.  We drove nearly 2000km in a week in Maggie, climbed (most of the way up) Kirkjufell, to have to turn round because the fixed ropes had been removed for winter, flew over the new Holuhraun fissure of Bardarbunga volcano, slept in temperatures down to -15 deg C, drove over mountain passes on roads of sheet ice, climbed and watched the sunset from the rim of an extinct volcano, laughed as our hair froze into 70’s punk styles while we wallowed in hot springs, walked to glacial lagoons, slept in a geothermal area (a particularly stinky nights sleep), and generally larked around on pure black beaches littered with ice bergs.

Everything about the trip was outstanding.  Driving on roads in the North East of the country felt like we had the whole world to ourselves, when we saw a tiny mouse sitting on the crash barrier it was the first other life we had seen for hours.  It is an incredible country, it’s bonkers in every respect and it’s less than 3 hours from the UK.  It offers everything from arctic terrain and ice climbing, to summer trail running on some of the most amazing terrain the planet has to offer.  Both of my recent trips have been in the winter, but I can’t wait to go back in the summer and get my fell shoes acquainted with some volcanic rock. 

I used the H18 down vest and H18 down jacket throughout the trip along with a waterproof over layer (we didn’t get many dry days!) At night I slept in a H18 full zipped bag and used an extra 4 season down bag for comfort - why would I go fast and light when I didn’t have to carry the stuff anywhere?

Editors note - I tried sleeping in tights, Mountaineering socks, Helly, down vest, down jacket, and just the H18 down bag, and although my torso was warm enough I thought I was going to get frost bite in both my feet, so I got my main sleeping bag out again!  It was -15 that night and everything (including our gallon of water, and car battery had frozen) but I thought it was worth a test.

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