In a truck of troll size proportions we wound our way slowly and cautiously up onto the Langjökull glacier. From his highly mechanised cabin, our driver Addi gave us a running commentary on the changing pressures in each of the 8 enormous tyres together with information on many of the other technicalities associated with manoeuvring us safely to the entrance to the Ice Cave.
At some 1200 meters (4000 feet) up the journey from base camp had been slow but the views were magnificent. At the entrance to the cave the winter wind blew the snow around above head height, so with little visibility and a significant wind chill, we carefully entered the tunnel mouth. Icicles hung immediately overhead topped with many more meters of solid ice above us. Our path ahead was illuminated a long line of temporary fairy lights extending as far as we could see into the cave.
Suitably attired with crampons, we were led along the route of the tunnel, and learned about the incredible scale and ingenuity of this venture. For me, the familiar stripes of black and grey volcanic ash on the cave walls were of immediate interest – representing ash fall from either Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 or Grímsvötn in 2011, together with seasonal accumulation in the years since then, already trapped into the layers of ice in the tunnel, yet so recently deposited on the surface of the glacier. A ‘geography moment’ for me, and confirmation that this much awaited spectacle has superb educational opportunities.
Further into the cave we were shown some of the crevasses that have been exposed during excavations. I didn’t expect that I would ever be seeing a crevasse from underneath, but looking up into this eerie crack further reminded me of the value of being able to witness the dynamic nature of a Glacier at first hand.
The completion of the project will take place in time for a summer opening in 2015 and the chance to visit on a variety of tours is available. The essence of the experience is based upon making an exciting journey into a remote location in a group size that maintains that sense of isolation. By including this new experience into a holiday itinerary many other opportunities are created to explore a wide range of places of interest both nearby and further afield around the western edge of the Icelandic Highlands and Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This beautiful area is a wonderful base for slow and relaxing travel, of exactly the type that we are so happy to arrange for Iceland Traveller customers.
edit: If you’d like to see photographs of this amazing spectacle, head over to our Facebook page to see the gallery of Julia’s trip the ice cave. Don’t forget to like our page, and tell us what you think!