Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> South Iceland

Fimmvörðuháls Pass

It's not that far from the Baldvinsskali hut to the pass - maybe a kilometre and a half - but there's a bit of climbing to do and an icefield to cross. This is probably a snow field most of the time, but at the end of an exceptionally hot summer it was largely ice, and full of holes...

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crevasses
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looking back at the icefield

It's a short climb from the other side up to the pass. From there the main track continues towards Þórsmörk, but we turned off to the west, heading for the hut Fimmvörðuskali. Unfortunately we had to cross a stream and the ice bridge that the track normally used had broken. We clambered down and along the bank, but I was beginning to get a bit worried - it was getting dark - when another walker half-fell down the slope to meet us. It was Anka, a young German hiker.

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from Fimmvörðuháls Pass, looking north towards Þórsmörk
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broken ice bridge

Someone came running down on the other bank, and shouting backwards and forwards in German established that a) we had to continue upstream to cross and b) the hut was full - a tour group had booked it. We were not very happy to hear this, but the guy on the other side kindly went up to check if they'd let us stay, and after ten minutes or so came back to say it was ok.

So we walked upstream a few hundred metres, took off our shoes, and waded across - maybe 20cm at the deepest, but damn cold. After drying off our feet and reshoeing ourselves, we climbed up to the hut.

I was expecting a bigger hut, but Fimmvörðuskali turned out to be smaller than Baldvinsskali. It was nicely put together, however, with proper bunks, a gas stove, etc. (the tap didn't work but there was a water tank outside) - just very crowded with a tour group of some twenty Germans plus extras!

Anka wasn't part of the group - she was near the end of a six week solo hike from the northernmost point of (main island) Iceland to the southernmost. Much of that she'd spent in the interior all by herself, so she was happy to talk.

Wednesday 27th August

We were up early - we wanted to make sure we reached Þórsmörk in time for the 3.30pm bus! - along with Anka, who was heading for Skógar. But we spent nearly an hour packing, having breakfast, and admiring the near-360-degree views from the hut, before we set off around 7.30am.

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Anka
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looking south - you can just see Baldvinsskali hut
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Fimmvörðuskali

Crossing the stream that had baulked us the previous evening was easy - being morning, it was dry!

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icecap Eyjafjallajökull

Soon after this the clouds began to roll in from the south, but we were walking away from them and the light cloud that followed us wasn't enough to spoil the views.

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lake
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dripping ice sheet

A decent-sized lake made a dramatic contrast to the near-desert surrounds; where the ice-sheet met the lake was a continuous line of drips. We then pushed on over the stony hills towards Þórsmörk.

Next: Þórsmörk (Thorsmork)
Previous: Skóga waterfalls

[Alternative spellings: Fimmvorduskali, Fimmvorduhals, Eyjafjallajokull, Thorsmork, Skogar]

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