Adventurer of the Week: Nicolas prepares for the Mountains!
It's obvious that Nicolas is an Icelandophile, having visited many times and explored many different areas of the country. This time around, Nicolas joined us for the Mountaineering Skills Course where he picked up knowledge and experience from our in-house experienced mountaineers. In the coming days, he will begin a solo diagonal trip across Iceland!
Nicolas is doing this for the Icelandic Forestry Association to raise money for reforestation in Iceland!
What motivated you to visit Iceland?
I have always been fascinated by Nordic cultures and landscapes. Thinking about Iceland was for me like traveling to one of these places on the edge of the world, somewhere almost magical and unknown. I had the opportunity to discover Iceland one year ago, close to winter, and ever since, I really wanted to come back.
Iceland is definitely the kind of place where you want to come back. Whatever you have done or seen, you can always discover something new. So, this time around was the time to experience Iceland during spring.
But even if it was more or less difficult, that short expedition was really nice. Pushing yourself in extremes conditions has something challenging and attractive.
How long was your stay? Did you travel solo or with a group?
I planned to come several times during summer, so my most recent stay was one of the shortest. I came on my own for 10 days, mainly for the company tour. Even if I was traveling solo, I met really interesting people on the tour with whom I am still in touch.
Which tour did you take and why did you choose it?
I took a six-day mountaineering skills course, with 3 others covering mountaineering, glacier traveling, and ice climbing. We had then the opportunity to climb the Hvannadalshnjúkur, the highest peak of Iceland. As a general introduction to mountaineering, it was completely what I expected. Our two guides Jón and Bjartur were really good teachers and gave us a great time.
What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?
Definitely the hike to the summit on the last two days. The opportunity to use what we've learned through the week and experience a 2-day trek with beautiful views (at least during the hike). As the weather is quite crazy in Iceland, we had good weather on the way up and unfortunately a complete storm at the top. Going down was quite a thorn in the foot. But even if it was more or less difficult, that short expedition was really nice. Pushing yourself in extremes conditions has something challenging and attractive. The ice climbing was a lot of fun too!
What is something that you learned about Iceland that surprised you?
The Icelandic culture is incredible, I really appreciated how Icelandic people are welcoming and cheerful, especially in a place where climate and environment seem to give difficult living conditions. For French people, or just even people coming from the continent, it is fascinating to see the link people here have still with nature.
With the course, I wanted to discover mountaineering, and I am thinking more seriously about working as a guide and in Iceland.
If you had more time in Iceland, what else would you like to see and do?
I am planning other journeys to Iceland, but if I could I wish to spend time in the Westfjords, and see Hrafnseyri, where people told me its almost uninhabited and untouched nature is incredible.
On the other hand, realizing more mountaineering expeditions in Iceland would be something that I would like to do a lot. And of course, to see northern lights with some luck, I have not seen them yet.
What tips do you have for people who want to visit Iceland?
Take your bag and go. Avoid maybe the touristic things if you want a unique trip (that seems obvious… But as an example we can find nice and hidden hot spots different to The Blue Lagoon just if we get curious). Open your eyes around you and open yourself. Go to local people, they can teach you a lot of things and give you a great time.
But mostly, stay respectful of the places where you go. Organize your trip in a clever way (e.g. giving your itinerary to a rescue organization as Landsbjorg), especially if you go by yourself without a guiding company. Iceland is great and beautiful but can be dangerous too, and we have to keep that in mind.
If you describe your tour in two words, what would they be?
What adventure are you off to next? What is your next dream adventure?
I just got back from the Laugavegur trail, and now I am on my way to Akureyri. I will spend 4/5 days in the Westfjords. I will also do the Langisjór trail on a photography tour.
After all these short trips, and months of preparation, a friend and I will be crossing Iceland from north to south in August. A journey through the Highlands, going from Raufarhöfn far in the north to Stokkseyri in the southwest. We plan to do this in 24 days, solo and autonomous, and with a small inflated boat. Beyond the sportive aspect, the adventure will be for a good cause - to help two associations working toward reforestation through Iceland and the world.
Nicolas’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
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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