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New Frontier: Ice Climb New Routes in Iceland

Ultimate Adventure Bucket List 2014 - Ice climber Tim Emmett recommends climbing new routes in Iceland. Plus: his must-have gear pick.

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Tim Emmett climbing Mýrdalsjökull glacier as a storm approaches, Iceland


It’s no surprise that Iceland is full of, ahem, ice. What is surprising is that few of its frozen waterfalls have ever been climbed, owing to the relative newness of the sport and the country’s dearth of people.

“Iceland, as the name suggests, is an ice climber’s heaven,” Emmett says. “The potential for new climbs is huge.” Currently, climbers start in places like Svínafellsjökull and Sólheimajökull, glaciers on the southern coast of the country that have great fortresses of blue-hued and black-striped ice perfect for beginners.

But Emmett eyes more out-of-the-way spots near towns like Ísafjördur, a remote town in the fjords of northwestern Iceland. With over a dozen glaciers on one country-size island, the possibilities, Emmett says, are endless.

Borea Adventures offers ice climbing trips in Iceland.

Tim Emmett
Ice Climber
British ice and rock climber Tim Emmett has put up first ascents across the globe, including Cuba, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia. One of his most nervy feats to date was a 2012 ice climb up British Columbia’s Helmcken Falls, widely thought to be the most difficult ice climb in the world. Emmett doesn’t restrict himself to simply going up, however. He also BASE jumps, flies wingsuits, skis, snowboards, and surfs.
Tim Emmett's Gear Pick: Mountain Hardwear Seraction Ice Climbing Pants and Jacket
“These new pants and jacket that I created with the design team at Mountain Hardwear are the best pieces of ice climbing kit I could come up with,” Emmett says. “They are light, stretchy, and they keep out snow and spray ice when conditions get gnarly!”

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