Ascent of Hvannadalshnúkur on 2020-07-05

Climber: Dhruv Garg

Date:Sunday, July 5, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:6923 ft / 2110 m

Ascent Trip Report

All the mountains in the trip so far were pretty much in an attempt to get ready for Hvannadalshnúkur. And it was a formidable beast indeed.

Initially, my gf and I had planned to go for Eyjafjallajökull (1651 m) before Hvannadalshnúkur for more warmup. However, as there was a nice weather window (or as nice as one can expect on the highest point in Iceland), we decided to skip the warm-up and go straight for the real thing. While staying in Vik the day before, my gf proposed to drive early in the morning and startwith a 12h estimate in mind so that we could check-in to our hotel near the mountain on time and get some good chow after. Waking up to the annoying alarm, we started heading east and got to the car lot around 6.30 AM. After getting things ready, we hit the trail at 7 AM.

The first 400m were straight-forward and quick-paced with the stream crossing (~125m) and the well-known water stream (~375m). Once we got on top of the hill around 500m, the trail got a little hazy and req'd constant guesswork to stay on track. The few cairns along the way were very helpful. We started hitting occasional pockets of snow near 900m. The glacier finally presented itself at 1050m. We took a long break to rope up and get some rest as my gf felt worn out. Despite bad weather looming near the top (or whatever 'top' was from what we could see), it was nice and sunny where we were. After we headed up the glacier, the crevasses with 'toasty' snow bridges presented themselves pretty quickly. Despite careful maneuvering, my gf punched through one of them and got a look at the endless abyss below. Thankfully she was able to get her out unharmed. Even though we had read up that the mountain was endless walking, the point didn't hit home until we were actually ascending the slopes to the crater plateau (~1800m). The crevasses always averted things from getting monotonous. The going was slow as my gf was exhausted and cramping up. However, she fought through it and we eventually topped out on the plateau 3 hours later. The accomplishment was short-lived as the walk in the crater to the final summit push turned out to be a a grueling loopy walk to avoid the devilish crevasses in the glacier. Halfway through the walk, my gf was completely exhausted and decided to stay back while I go for the summit. In order to minimize the time she would have to dawdle around, I tried to keep a good pace while navigating the crevasses below the rime icy surface. Once I topped out to the flatter summit plain (2050m), the wind got pretty bad and making my way back without a GPS would've been risky. A few mins later, I was standing on the top of Iceland but instead of beautiful panoramic views that I saw in my research, I was presented with a exteremely windy whiteout with about 30ft of visibility. No time to screw around, after capturing quick photo evidence (of a whiteout :D), I carefully started making my way back. As expected, the wind had already blow away all evidence of my crampon tracks on the flatter plain. Subsequently, the climb down the steep summit block was swift and I was happy to see my gf make it to 1900m at the point when we start the summit push.

We took a quick break and started the long walk back along the crater to the climb down the glacier. Finally, we started the descent down the glacier before the weather got worse as was forecasted. We didn't rope up for the crater walk or the descent down the glacier as we knew the terrain and the crevasse crossings were still as solid as one can expect in July. A little less than 3 hours after summiting, we were back below the snow line happy that it was a walk down the trail from here on out. Slowly making our way down, we were back at the trailhead looking at our rental car with watery eyes. It had been a very long day. On to some good food now!

Trip times (excluding stopped time for gear change):

  • Car lot to glacier start (~1100m) - 3.24 hours

  • Glacier start to crater plateau (~1800m) - 3 hours

  • Crater plateau to below summit block (~1840m) - 1 hour

  • Below summit block to summit - 50 mins

  • Summit to below summit block (~1840m') - 35 mins

  • Below summit block to start of crater plateau (~1800m) - 1 hour

  • Crater plateau to glacier start (~1100m) - 1.10 hours

  • Glacier start to car lot - 1.43 hours

On to the next mountain on our trip...
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6623 ft / 2018 m
    Round-Trip Distance:15 mi / 24.1 km
    Trailhead:Sandfell Carpark  300 ft / 91 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:8 Hours 51 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 51 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dhruv Garg
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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