Ascent of Tindastóll on 2016-05-19

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Petter Bjørstad
Pål Bjørstad
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, May 19, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:3264 ft / 994 m

Ascent Trip Report

Thursday, May 19th:

Our week-long trip to Iceland was now over half over. After checking the weather forecast, it looked good for a climb of Snæfellsjökull, the second most prominent and perhaps most famous mountain in Iceland, on Friday. So today we had a long drive to do to get to the base of that peak, and we looked for a relatively easy objective while enroute. Tindastóll, a P600m peak not far from our guesthouse in Sauðarkrókur, seemed to fit the bill. So after a free breakfast at a nearby hotel (included in our lodging price), we hit the road for the short drive to Tindastóll.

The good news about Tindastóll is that a plowed access road goes up to 450m, by far the highest trailhead on our entire trip—it provides access to a small ski area with one rope tow lift of 220m vertical rise. The bad news is that the peak above the ski area is a flat-topped plateau several kilometers south of the highest summit of the massif, requiring a lot of flat skiing to get to the true high point once up on the plateaus. But it still seemed like the best plan.

The ski area was deserted on this overcast Thursday, and the three of us started uphill beside the rope tow. The huge glacier-carved ravine of Lambárbotnar was to our left (north) and it looked like if we went into it and climbed up the other side, we would be on the next plateau section to the north and closer to the summit, but the slopes seemed too steep to ascend easily. So once above the top of the rope tow we just headed towards Peak 949 on gentler terrain.

The overcast skies, flat light, and white immensity of these featureless humps made for tough going psychologically. Also, Petter and Pål were on their lightweight telemark gear and I was lagging once again. I did take a more direct line up and started skirting north before reaching Peak 949, and eventually caught up to them near another wooden trig marker spire. From here we headed NW on a sloping downhill—I removed my skins and was able to catch up to the Norwegians, but after putting them on in the col I was behind again as we climbed up a broad ridge northwards.

This ridge culminated in a narrow crest, with cornices to the west and a tricky traverse on icy snow to the east, which we took. It was a long, steep, drop past rocky slopes below, so I concentrated on keeping my skis on a good platform here. A short climb led to the huge expanse of the final summit plateau of Tindastóll, and a kilometer of flat skiing took us to the 995 meter summit cairn, almost buried. Petter and Pål were first, and as I arrived ten minutes later, my GPS beeped to let me know we had arrived at the right place based on the map.

These Icelandic plateau peaks were a bit frustrating since the high points did not provide good views, since they were in the middle of flat expanses. But today the weather was not great, with low clouds, no sun, and even some mare’s tales of rain in the distance to the south. We took our photos and were soon headed back. As usual, I fell behind my companions as I removed and applied my climbing skins a couple times on the way back to move as efficiently as I could. I wanted my skins on the for the icy traverse, but once past that and atop the narrow summit crest, I locked down my heels and made good turns down the broad ridge. I really did not want to ascend back up to near Peak 949, and I could see our car and the ski area base below me—to get there, all I had to do was drop into the steep-walled ravine called Lambárbotnar on the map. The slope was so convex I could not see its lower part, and the flat light was not helpful, but I didn’t recall any big rocky areas from my views in the morning. So I dropped over the lip carefully, making sure I wasn’t getting cliffed out, and eventually I saw an old snowmobile track heading straight up. I followed that, figuring I could ski down anything that machine could deal with, and shortly I could see the whole ravine, no rocks in sight, and made nice turns to its bottom.

Pål and Petter had been on the traverse over to Peak 949 when I started my ravine descent, and I think Pål saw me and thought he could avoid the traverse and climb, too. We both skied to the bottom of the ravine and then tried to stay on a high traverse to avoid coming out lower that the car. That mostly worked, and we were soon plowing through heavy lower-elevation slush to the little parking lot. We sat on the bench outside of the ski area hut to wait for Petter to traverse and kick-turn down.

Our jaunt up Tindastóll had taken a little under three hours, from 8:30 AM to 11:20 AM, so we had plenty of time now to get over to the Snæfells peninsula this afternoon and get ready for our big trip tomorrow. Pål navigated us westwards via Route 744, Highway 1, dirt road 59, and finally the mostly unpaved highway of Route 54 to near Stykkishölmur. We detoured north a bit to this village, the largest on the peninsula, to have lunch and buy gas.

From Stykkishölmur we drove west to Ólavsvík, and Petter got us a room in the namesake Hotel Ólavsvík. We then thought we’d see how far up road F570 towards Snæfellsjökull we could get—this road, running east of the big volcano, provided the best access but was closed by snow at some point. From the north, we only got to about 320m before snowdrifts blocked it. Our plan was to approach from the south tomorrow and hope we could get higher.

After a fancy dinner in the nearby Hraufen restaurant, we retired to our room in the Ólavsvík Hotel.

Continue to the next report for our Iceland trip.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2050 ft / 624 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2050 ft / 624 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2017 ft / 614 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1820 ft / 554 m; Extra: 197 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:197 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.8 mi / 6 km
    Route:S Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Ski Area lot  1444 ft / 440 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1853 ft / 564 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1820 ft / 554 m; Extra: 33 ft / 10m
    Gain on way out:33 ft / 10 m
    Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    End Trailhead:Ski Area lot  1444 ft / 440 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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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