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Hvannadalshnjúkur was situated on the other side of the crater rim from where we were. Our vantage point on the southern edge of the rim should have afforded a clear view, but mid-day clouds had been alternately forming and dissipating, and at the moment, there was a cloud semi-obscuring the view. We were quite hopeful, though, that at any time we would get a perfectly clear view of it.
courtesy CHatko
Crater rim
Lunch break at crater rim
The arrival of noon also meant lunchtime, and the completion of most of the climbing and a flat spot to sit down on made this a good place (for lunch). It was noticeably breezier and colder up at this spot, though, and we all put on several layers of clothing.
courtesy CHatko
Andrew at lunch
Hvannadalshnjúkur summit
Climbing team nearing summit
As predicted, the intervening clouds cleared away, and we had a good, clear view of the summit of Hvannadalshnjúkur. It had an elongated shape, not suprising when one considers that it is part of a crater's rim, and had steep faces on either end, especially on the right-hand side. The slope facing us, however, had a section that had no vertical faces, and we could see how the climbing track we were following snaked its way up this section. We could also clearly see that there were three other rope teams ahead of us, one of which was nearly at the summit.

As I am often fond of saying, it all looked quite do-able.
Ready to head off
Öræfajökull and Hvannadalshnjúkur
Starting the crossing
Lunch was now finished, and the cold, biting wind did not encourage lazing around. We got ourselves back into spaced-out glacier-travelling position and headed off across the crater. The going was almost entirely flat and the distance did not appear all that far, and we anticipated that we would arrive at the base of the summit dome in short order.

In fact, it took us probably twice as long to cross as we had estimated, the result of the lack of perspective up here in the world of ice and rock. It was actually almost three kilometres' distance across the crater!
courtesy BConnell
Approaching the base
Big rope teams
Climbing Hvannadalshnjúkur
By about 1:30pm, we had reached the base of the summit dome of Hvannadalshnjúkur. The snow was colder and harder here, and the last bit of climbing was steeper. As a result, we all agreed that it would be prudent to now put on our crampons (Ewart had chosen to wear crampons right from the start of the glacier climbing). We also chose to leave our hiking poles behind, and concentrate solely on using our ice axes.
Crevasse and Hvannadalshnjúkur
Approaching descent party
Final rest break
We started off up the steeper slopes to the summit, taking a little more care due to the steeper grade, as well as the several large crevasses that ran across our path. A few even required some delicate moves over smallish snow-bridges.

We encountered one of the guided climbing groups on their way down, and stepped aside and waited as they passed by. They were roped up in a different style than we were, with many more people on one rope and far less distance between each of them. One group in particular seemed to be composed of some elderly folk who appeared to be having quite a difficult time, slipping and sliding everywhere and in general looking like they were - pardon the pun - at the end of their rope.

One of the leaders of one of the guided teams also made a somewhat flippant comment about our safety gear, snidely quipping to Jenn that "the next time, leave your helmet at home". I was somewhat annoyed when I heard about this. It was simply not an appropriate thing for one climbing team to say to another, even if the technical level of this climb did make the use of helmets seem somewhat unnecessary. You simply don't tell other teams - especially ones you don't know - that they shouldn't use safety gear; especially something so basic as a helmet. It is always valid to take such a piece of equipment along if a team or individual so decides.
courtesy Jinnes
Jagged crevasse
Final slopes
Team one waits for team two
Although certain [very brief] sections were somewhat steep, there was such an established track that we had to do little more than place our feet in the deep steps in front of us. Ewart wanted to be plenty sure that his ice ax was firmly planted for every step, so our progress was somewhat slower than it could have been, and Team One once again pulled away above us. As we crested the final slopes, we could see them already celebrating at the summit.
courtesy BConnell
Wide angle below-summit view
Final slopes
Team two, final slopes
The highpoint
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[ Return to "Elemental Iceland" Home page | Introduction | To Iceland! | Day 1-Reykjanes Peninsula | Day 1-Reykjavik | Day 2-Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant | Day 2-Reykjadalur Hot River | Day 2-Geysir and Gullfoss | Day 2-Seljalandsfoss | Day 3-Backpack between volcanoes I | Day 4-Backpack between volcanoes II | Day 4-Skógar to Skaftafell | Day 5-Climbing Iceland's Highpoint | Day 6-Lagoons, Coasts, and Deserts | Day 7-Dettifoss | Day 7-Hverir, Krafla, and Lake Myvatn Area | Day 7-Turf Farm at Laufás | Day 7-Akureyri | Day 8-The Troll Peninsula | Day 8-Eirik's Homestead | Day 9-Final Tour
| Supplemental Images | Where we drove | The "Short Report" | Video Clip Index | GPS Data ]

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