Bautiful overview of an amazing ice formations of Fallökull glacier

visit vatnajökull

Of all the beautiful glaciers in the Skaftafell region of Vatnajökull, Falljökull is the one many locals in the area are privileged to call their workplace. Falljökull is famous for its steep, flowing ice fall and dramatic mountains. You´ll find many photos of the icefall and the undulating waves of ice in travellers’ holiday albums, because who could come to Iceland without checking out its namesake?

Falljökull or the ‘falling glacier’ stems from the main ice cap Vatnajökull, which itself is around 8% of Iceland´s total landmass. Falljökull is what we call a ´glacier tongue´ in that it´s a smaller glacier that comes off the larger ice cap, like a stream coming from a lake. The glacier was first formed high up above the mountains in the ice cap, where the yearly snowfall compressed down over time to become the special glacier ice, which melts much more slowly than regular ice that develops at freezing point. The ice that we hike on in the Vatnajökull national park ranges anywhere from 400 to 1,000 years old since it was last snow!

A glacier hiking or ice climbing tour onto Falljökull begins from Freysnes gas station, located just a 5 minute drive from the glacier carpark. You catch your first glimpse of the glacier after heading past the Svínafell settlement, and can watch the tallest peak of Iceland, Hvannadalshnjúkur rising up at 2,110m tall, right until we dip deeper into the Falljökull valley.
We drive as far as we can into the valley along an old sheep track that was put in by the local farmers, before the area was made into a national park. The track is still in use today to round up all the sheep that call the valley home during the summer, during the annual réttir. Our super jeep makes light work of the rough terrain, and within just 15 short minutes we´ve made it from the meeting point to the terminal face of the glacier.

Before putting on our crampons and stepping onto the hard glacier ice, we need to ascend one of the many hills of ´dead ice´at the end of the glacier. These hills are made of hard glacier ice, and due to being covered by a thick layer of ash and rocky debris, they are protected from melting away in the sun. We reach the edge of the ice, have a quick lesson in walking in crampons, a small safety briefing, and then we´re off. 

Taking your first, crunching steps on a glacier is a vivid sensory memory to store away for decades to come. The crunch, crunch, crunch of crampons biting into crusty white ice, the trickle of the refreshingly cold glacier melt water flowing over the surface and the feeling of the cool wind coming off the ice cap.

 

 

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Bautiful overview of an amazing ice formations of Fallökull glacier

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