Ascent of Grjótskálarhnjúkur on 2016-05-17

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Petter Bjørstad
Pål Bjørstad
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:3983 ft / 1214 m

Ascent Trip Report

Tuesday, May 17th:

Our goal today was to climb 1214m-high Grjótskálarhnjúkur, an attractive objective for a couple of reasons—it is the fourth most prominent peak in Iceland, and we knew it was easily doable based on a trip report by our late friend Edward Earl in 2013. It was a gorgeous day, so we left our cottage in Framnes early and did the hour-long drive via Husavik and dirt road 835 to the tiny farm of Skarð. We parked just off the road (not opening the unlocked gate up to the farm).

We hoped to ski this peak, but the south ridge in front of us was dry rock, dirt, and grass for at least 700m. I flatly refused to carry my heavy randonnee gear uphill this distance, so we decided to simply hike in our hiking boots. We went through the gate, up the road, forded a small brook to our left, and started up an obvious grassy ridge leading up the main peak.

The going was pretty easy—the ridge was steep, and there was even a brief section of bushwhacking through some rare Icelandic brush, but it was mostly standard-issue talus/scree/dirt. We were moving quickly, climbing the 700m in a little over an hour. We hit the snowline as the slope moderated, and found the snow slopes to be easy walking at first.

However, at the first steep rise on snowy ground, I found that my worn-out hiking boots were unable to kick good steps, and were sliding backwards. I finally had to put on crampons—better boots or warmer snow later in the day would have prevented this minor annoyance. Wearing the spikes also slowed me down a bit, and Petter and Pål charged ahead.

The last couple kilometers were almost entirely flat, across the broad summit plateau of Blámannshattur (a very minor sub-summit) and Grjótskálarhnjúkur. Most of the mountains in northern Icleand seem to be like this. The views were awesome. After long trudging, trying to keep up with the Norwegians, I finally saw them ahead, stopped at a small rise that matched my GPS summit point. We were on top at about 11:35, about 2.5 hours from the car.

It was a bit cold and windy here, and we took a short rest while eating and taking photos. We could see endless snowy peaks around us, and wished we could have found a way to ski this peak—I thought that heading up the brook valley from the car and then up the steep east slopes could have worked, but it was too late for that.

Our descent was uneventful. I ditched my crampons and had an easy time walking across the snow—the surface was just right for easy no-postholing progress, and we could even plunge-step down the steep slope that gave me trouble earlier. For the downhill, we maximized use of snowfields, avoiding a bit of the rocky talus and scree. Down by the farm buildings (as near as we could tell, not occupied at all) we saw a bridge that saved us the ford from the morning. We were back to the car by 1 PM.

Continue to the next report for our Iceland trip.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3918 ft / 1194 m
    Extra Gain:66 ft / 20 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9 mi / 14.5 km
    Route:S Ridge
    Trailhead:Skarð  197 ft / 60 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes
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.

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