Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Poorly equipped hiker rescued after getting lost attempting to cross Fimmvörðuháls pass

By Staff

  • Conditions during the rescue: Fog and cold The man was not equipped for a hike on Fimmvörðuháls in good weather. Photo/ICE-SAR

Search and Rescue teams from villages in South Iceland rescued a poorly equipped hiker who had gotten lost while attempting to cross Fimmvörðuháls mountain pass in South Iceland. The man was lost, having wandered off the marked trail, as well as being cold and exhausted. He was not properly equipped for a mountain hike, certainly not a hike across Fimmvörðuháls.

One of Iceland's most popular hiking trails

Fimmvörðuháls rescue
Fimmvörðuháls rescue Looking down the scree leading into the canyon Photo/ICE-SAR

Fimmvörðuháls mountain pass traverses the mountains between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers in the Southern Central Highlands. The trail connects Skógar waterfall in the south and Þórsmörk nature preserve. While it is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland, and relatively easy to cross in ideal weather conditions, no hiker would think of trying to cross Fimmvörðuháls when the weather is bad or without proper hiking equipment. 

Visibility on the trail can fall to zero, and during rain storms with southerly winds the trail is effectively impassable.

Not properly equipped for a serious hike
The man had left Þórsmörk late Sunday evening heading south. He spent the night on the trail, and continued on his way the next morning. However, by noon the man had realized he was in over his head: He was both cold and exhausted after spending the night on the trail, as well as losing all sense of direction after wandering off the marked trail. 

The man managed to call 112, and by positioning his cell phone Police was able to determine the position of the man. ICE-SAR then launched a rescue operation to help the man down from the mountains. Members of Search and Rescue units in villages in South Iceland located the man at half past two in the afternoon where he was at an impasse in a deep canyon 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the marked trail. 

The local newspaper Morgunblaðið reports that rescuing the man from the canyon required expert assistance and specialized equipment.

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