Ascent of Hvannadalshnúkur on 2017-06-19

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Adrian Rayner <2698>; Pete Ellis; Martin Whiteley
Date:Monday, June 19, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:6923 ft / 2110 m

Ascent Trip Report

Straightforward crevasse free ascent thanks to recent snow, and we have the mountain to ourselves! Sunny summit although rained on way down. 12hr round trip.

Skaftafell overnight, left Sandfell trailhead at 0510. Route as per Petter Bjorstad description; we didn't ski but it would seem good conditions for it. Easiest start is old 4x4 road L out of car park, then trail crossing stream on planks, and good trail up. Lovely atmospheric initial climb with mist clearing. Rocky notch gives access to easier angled stony ground with cairned route. Geared up as soon as reached glacier although crampons barely needed today, snow quite soft in places. Snow slope at last levels off, view of summit, a steep climb with some crevassing although no stoppers as far as we can see, I was a little concerned given lack of people on route, that there could be an uncrossable bergschrund.

We cross a wide shallow bowl then steeply up, crossing R below some seracs, nervous moments but a simple ramp and soon traversing easy upper slopes to summit, looks like cornice, no problem getting to highest point but we remain roped.

View across the huge glacier, biggest in Europe. Up in 7h, 30mins on top, 5h30 down, initially in hot sun but soon in fog then heavy rain, making this morning's soft snow soggier. Depressing to make another descent in rain, prospect of another wet campsite evening. But sun comes out, we dry our gear, good meal and all is good again.

After dinner I take the popular tourist trail to nearby Svartifoss, 2 nice waterfalls and good columnar basalt, and a fine view of today's peak glowing in the 10.30pm low sun.

Interesting birdlife around camp: snipe calling and drumming although no wet ground that I can see; I see two of them on the surfaced road. Redwing singing everywhere, they don't sing in UK where they overwinter so it took a while to identify what was singing; Pete and Martin had a very tame bird at the tent.

Tomorrow we head east, hoping for one or two peaks if the weather and topography allow.

Hvannadalshnúkur photo album

Svartifoss photo album

I recalled Duane Gilliland and Edward Earl's ascent of this peak 4 years earlier. 'Esquared' is sadly no longer with us, but his photo essay is an interesting read.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6598 ft / 2011 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope
    Weather:Raining, Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Clear at summit; 2hrs rain on descent
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6598 ft / 2011 m
    Distance:7.8 mi / 12.5 km
    Start Trailhead:325 ft / 99 m
    Time:13 Hours 
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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