Adventurer of the Week: Kim Gets some Mountain Skills

22. June 2017 —
Kim
Kim is a true Iceland-lover, and going a lot  further than most. She joined us on our 6 day Mountain Skills Course, and acquired a the necessary technical proficiency to take her exploration of Iceland to the next level, and helping other to explore too.

What motivated you to visit Iceland?

I fell in love with Iceland when I first visited in Feb 2015 and spent four days winter hiking in Þórsmörk. Since then I have spent every single vacation in Iceland and usually visit 2-3 times a year. There is still so much of the country to discover and so much to learn. Last year, I started helping out a guide friend with a longer Highland tour and some glacier hikes and I enjoy that even more than just touring, because that way I can help others enjoy Iceland as well.

How long was your stay? Did you travel solo or with a group?

In April, I visited for three weeks. First, I was on a six-day Highland tour with friends to Kerlingarfjöll and Hveravellir, spent a few days in Reykjavík, then I did the Mountain Skills Course with Icelandic Mountain Guides and afterwards I was able to help with the glacier hikes on Sólheimajökull for three days which was an amazing experience.

Kim

Which tour did you take and why did you choose it?

I chose the six day Mountain Skills Course, because I love glacier travel and it sounded like an amazing challenge and a great learning experience. The course included avalanche safety, rock climbing skills, glacier travel and crevasse rescue, a two day expedition to the highest summit of Iceland and ice climbing. 

I was a little apprehensive, because I was the only guest on the tour who doesn’t live in Iceland and didn’t aspire to be a glacier guide, but now I am thinking about trying the Glacier 1 course to see if I might pass the certification. Then maybe I can help with more glacier tours in the future.

What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?

The great group and especially the two expedition days. We spent a night tent camping at 1,000m altitude and conditions on summit day were fairly difficult with lots of snow. Experiencing that together really made us bond as a group. Kamil and Bjartur are amazing instructors. 

Especially memorable for me was the exercise when Kamil told us out of the blue we had 15 minutes to rescue an avalanche victim (a buried avalanche beacon) and we had to spring into action under time pressure and work as a group.

Kim

What is something that you learned about Iceland that surprised you?

Every time I visit, I am reminded that nature in Iceland is powerful, ever-changing and that you need to be alert and well prepared to explore. In Germany, nature seems tamer, we are protected from many hazards by warning signs, walkways, barriers etc. In Iceland you need to take responsibility for your own actions and decisions when exploring and that is why I am trying to learn as much as possible from my guide friends and instructors. I feel stronger and more independence-building skills that I didn’t possess before to make well-founded decisions and judge risks correctly.

If you had more time in Iceland, what else would you like to see and do?

I have only seen a small portion of the country so far. I definitely want to explore the North, the East and the Westfjords, do more multi-day hiking tours in the Highlands and a solo hike of the Strútsstígur once I have built up my skills. Long-term goals are a Vatnajökull crossing and maybe the Iceland traverse. I will also try to find a Glacier 1 course to see if I can pass the certification test.

Kim

What tips do you have for people who want to visit Iceland?

Do your research, find out what sights and activities appeal to you most and plan a solid itinerary with alternative options. Learn about the advantages and risks of traveling in certain seasons and don’t overestimate your skills. Pay close attention to weather and road conditions and ask your local hosts and guides about your plans and their suggestions. Be aware of the fact that Iceland is not a budget destination, so it pays to save up for your dream vacation a little longer if that means you can experience more. 

Kim

If you describe your tour in two words, what would they be?

Amazing adventure!

Kim

What adventure are you off to next? What is your next dream adventure?

I am off to Iceland again next week to hike across Skeiðarárjökull from Núpsstaðarskógur to Skaftafell with a guide friend. So many people have asked to join him that I will now be coming along as his assistant guide. Afterwards I will do a 3 day tour to Strandir and maybe spend a day visiting Vestmannaeyjar. In September, I will spend a day training on the glacier, maybe do the Lónsöræfi hike with IMG and explore the North for the first time. If I am really brave I will raft the east glacial river.

Kim’s adventure  is only one of the many features that make for an unforgettable experience. Book your tour and join us for an excursion that is guaranteed to make memories that last a lifetime.  

Have you been on a tour with us in Iceland and would like to be featured as an “Adventurer of the Week”? Feel free to email us at [email protected].

About the Author

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian household, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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