Sun shines in the morning. No kidding.
I drive some more to the West to reach Sólheimajökull or sun home glacier. This will be the next glacier in Iceland to disappear. It has been predicted to have 20-30 years left. The first one died in 2014 and on 18th of August this year a memorial was opened there. Premier minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and former Irish president Mary Robinson participated in the event. Okjökull or yoke glacier. Glaciers have died in Iceland before but Ok was the first with a name. All Icelandic glaciers should disappear during next 200 years.
Icelanders have different views on the matter. Some older people are happy because glaciers are seen as a threat. During a volcano eruption glacier brings with it jökullhlaup or a huge amount of water that is released and that sweeps everything away. Then again a lot of Icelanders connects glaciers with local identity. These are emotions. From the practical side losing glaciers affects hydro energy, fishing, drinking water and tourism. All for the worst.
I prepare a quick breakfast in the parking lot. There didn’t seem to be enough time for that on the campsite and the coffee in the gas station was not open yet. A few people and cars. Sun warms my back.
A bit before ten o’clock some traffic starts around the yellow bus. Security instructions, handing out gear. Our guide and nanny of the group is Maxim, from Bulgaria. He lives already three years in Iceland and knows enough about the glacier. It shrinks with weeks. Weeks. We put on crampons in a place that was covered with ice two months ago. One has to wear a helmet because before we reach the ice there is active landslide area. Earlier the glacier supported the mountain, now everything comes down when it rains. Which reminds me of a recent piece in the news that not far from here at Tungnakvíslarjökull has a mountain lost 180 meters of height between 1999 and 2010. Scientists connect it with climate change.
We climb between teeth that are a mix of lava and ice up on the glacier itself. Maxim explains how the crevasses and holes are formed. I would not want to be very close to them. Snow curves towards horizon between moss-covered rocks.
When we have said goodbye to the glacier and have climbed back down are there a lot of people who are happily snapping pictures of themselves with Chinese-made cameras and phones. Not the people in developed countries are causing climate change but they there, in China.
Back towards East. Now with clear weather all the surrounding glaciers are suddenly visible that on the way here were hidden in clouds. There are a lot of them, still.
I skip all the tourist-infected beautiful places that I have already seen. Reynisfjara beach and Vík where all people who do not speak Icelandic have been collected. Jökulsárlón next to which a glacier is leaving with a memorable spectacle. Sheep have gathered on the road to look at a seagull that has been hit by a car.
Maxim said that in the south and east there will be a storm tomorrow. Sun is still high and I go to have a look at Vestrahorn right away. It’s a mountain, west horn. Actually there are three mountains, also Brunnhorn or well mountain that looks like Batman, and Austrahorn, east horn, that, surprise, surprise, is visible from the east.
Access to the place is behind pay barrier. This is one of two Icelandic nature sights that are not for free. There are not many visitors but the black sand dunes are full of footprints nevertheless. I wander around and find alternative photo motives. Sea lands in picturesque half circle. It is worthwhile to come back here tomorrow despite bad weather.