Crossing Europe’s largest glacier
Børge Ousland has just kicked off a new expedition. Together with Erling Kagge and Haraldur Ørn Olafsson, he is crossing Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland.
“This is really recreation, a relaxing little trip. It has been 20 years since Erling and I were at the North Pole, with Geir Randby, so this is a nice reunion. Haraldur is Iceland’s most famous explorer, he has previously been to both the North Pole and South Pole,” says Børge.
Vatnajökull is Europe’s largest glacier, measured in volume, although Austfonna on Svalbard covers a larger area. The Icelandic glacier holds 3100 cubic kilometres of ice and covers 8100 square kilometres of southeastern Iceland. Average thickness is almost 400 meters, but parts of the glacier are up to a kilometre thick. English sailors claim to have seen Vatnajökull from the Faeroe Islands, 550 km away, under special atmospheric conditions when light is bent.
The crossing will take the trio to altitudes of 1500–1800 metres. Many glacier arms extend toward the coast and down into the surrounding valleys.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on the weather forecast. So far it looks good, but wind and rain can quickly create real challenges on Vatnajökull. We hope to reach our destination on the other side after about a week,” says Børge.
He may not mention it, but they also hope the volcanoes under glaciers will remain restful; it would hardly be nice if the glacier suddenly evaporated under them!
The three are ‘travelling light’ pulling sleds that have a mere 30 kg of supplies and equipment. That’s nothing compared to what is required for long expeditions to the North or South Pole.
“We’re on our way up the mountain. Talk to you later!”