Guide to Glaciers and Ice Climbing Iceland
Grab an ice ax and strap the crampons to your hiking boots! Get ready to scratch another AMAZING trip off of your travel bucket list. We’re headed to Iceland for some epic ice climbing and the world famous Icelandic glaciers!
If the country’s name didn’t give it away, let us be the first to tell you that Iceland is definitely one of the best places to get the full ice climbing glacier experience.
Is your idea of fun feeling completely in awe of the power of mother nature, an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, and a rush of adrenaline all at once? Awaken your inner Viking as you prepare to ascend ice walls and trek across glaciers with our guide to glacier hiking and ice climbing Iceland!
Did You Know That You Can You Ice Climb in Iceland?
YUP, you can! Ice climbing is an adventurous outdoor sport that Iceland is known for and it’s exactly the kind of sport that Explorer Chicks crave.
Iceland has some of the best ice climbing in the world, and ice climbing and glacier hiking are year-round activities in this region! Yup, that’s right. You don’t have to wait for snow and cold winter weather to enjoy glacier hiking or other tours of glaciers (though it will give you a better chance of catching the northern lights).
What It’s Like Ice Climbing Iceland’s Glaciers
Is there a word for the feeling that combines impossibly hard work with the adventure of a lifetime, and the reward of absolute triumph? There should be, and ice climbing in Iceland is TOTALLY that feeling.
If you’ve been rock climbing you’ll already be familiar with some of the climbing basics. Ice climbing is a feat in and of itself, but when your journey involves ice climbing on an active glacier, it’s a whole new level of daring.
Active glaciers like those in Iceland never stay still. The ice is constantly shifting, so glacier hiking and climbing involves serious vigilance and following the tour guide’s exact steps.
With proper planning and safety measures, there is no reason that a picture of you dangling hundreds of feet above sea level in a glacier in Iceland can’t be your next humble brag.
Best Ice Climbing and Glacier Hiking in Iceland
Two of the world’s most famous glaciers and best ice climbing locations on Iceland’s south shore are Sólheimajökull glacier and the Falljökull outlet glaciers. Both are in the south east of Iceland and make easy day trips from Reykjavik, where you can join glacier tours or other day tours in Iceland to explore.
Don’t want to explore alone? Tour Iceland with expert guides and adventurous travelers like you on Explorer Chick’s Glaciers and Hot Springs Adventure tours! Anyone who has felt the adrenaline of ice climbing will tell you what a great experience it is to push your body to epic new limits, so why not do it with friends?
Experience the full magic of ice climbing Sólheimajökull Glacier, an outlet glacier off the mighty icecap of Mýrdalsjökull located on the South Coast of Iceland.
So what makes it special?
Beside the fact that it is easy to access from Reykjavík, it’s also not surrounded by tall mountains that would otherwise block your view. Meaning, you’ll get epic views of South Coast. The trail to the climb itself is a nice glacier hike that is worth a stroll on its own.
Walk across multi-foot thick blue ice on a glacier tour and hear your crampons crunch as they cling to your hiking boots and your ice axes clang on your pack. Explore the many crevasses all around you as you walk to your climbing point, passing weekenders from Reykjavík as you go.
Vatnajökull literally means “glacier of lakes,” and Vatnajökull glacier is the largest glacier in Europe. It covers 8% of Iceland’s landmass and it’s more than 1,200 feet thick!
With nearly 30 outlet glaciers to explore, the Vatnajökull Glacier National Park is an amazing place to try incredible glacier hiking and see waterfalls, volcanoes, lava formations, and epic mountain ridges. The ice climbing here is top notch to say the least.
Waterfall Ice Climbing Around Reykjavik
There are countless waterfalls easily accessed from Reykjavik via Iceland’s famous Ring Road, the main road that travels the whole island. Visitors love to walk among the landscape’s formations and ancient signs of eruption.
In the winter months these waterfalls turn into ideal ice climbing locations close to the capital. These make perfect destinations for those looking to swing some ice axes and try their hand on a local ice climbing tour, exploring the gems of Iceland’s south shore.
Getting on a glacier isn’t just a walk in the park, so if you’re interested in ice climbing join a guided tour. Explorer Chick makes a visit to Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls on our expertly crafted tour of Iceland.
What to Bring Ice Climbing in Iceland
What to Wear Ice Climbing in Iceland
Clothing you’d wear for winter hiking excursions, skiing, or snowboarding are what you’ll need in the mountains of Iceland. Every winter outdoor safety briefing usually includes one key word to NEVER forget: layers.
Thick wooly socks, thermal underwear, and a waterproof jacket for the glacier hike are a good combination for trips that involve colder weather adventures. Read our guide on what to wear during winter hiking for a breakdown of how to layer your clothing.
Gear You’ll Need for Ice Climbing Iceland
All you’ll really need for ice climbing besides your own stoke are ice axes, crampons, safety gear, and a healthy dose of bravery. A helmet is important for both the glacier hiking and the ice climbing, and of course you’ll need good hiking boots for the whole trip.
Here’s a helpful guide on how to choose the right size ice axe, though most tour companies will provide the gear for you.
Booking with Explorer Chick means all ice climbing equipment is included in the cost of your trip when you travel with us. No worrying about packing or renting technical equipment like ice axes, crampons, harnesses, helmets, and carabiners. Bring your boots and cozy clothing, and get your booty to Iceland!
Is ice climbing still on your adventure trip bucket list? Join us!
Take your dream ice climbing trip to Iceland with Explorer Chick! Together we’ll tour the most spectacular parts of the island, and laugh our way from the south shore city of Reykjavik to the blue ice-covered glaciers and waterfalls that Iceland is famous for.
Meet the Writer
April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.
Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!
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