By Dawn Glanc
Iceland called to me all throughout the summer of 2012. I knew I had to return. With the help of Mountain Hardwear my desire to sink my picks back into the perfect Icelandic ice was fulfilled. A new team of Tim Emmett, Keith Ladzinski, Chad Copeland and I returned to Iceland in February of 2013. This return trip was another dream come true. I came on the trip with experience and knowledge of the area. My first hand beta helped shape the team’s agenda and strategy. We came loaded with bolts and drill, and a team hell bent to complete some sick lines.
Reality and the weather were not conducive to our plans. Temperatures were warm and the precipitation was coming down as rain. The project I had sold the team on was out of condition. Our expedition team had to quickly come up with plan B. As we drove around and scouted the fjords, we found an area I had not explored the year prior due to high snow levels. Now, the conditions we faced made for perfect travel into the high country. The hard snow pack allowed us to access an amazing amphitheater that contained established ice lines and virgin ice lines.
The amphitheater was a hidden gem that felt like a gift in the conditions that we faced. The weather permitted Tim and I to climb for three solid days, which resulted in three new ice lines, each three pitches long.
The hard snow pack allowed us to access an amazing amphitheater that contained established ice lines and virgin ice lines.
One of the climbs we completed in the amphitheater became the first bolted mixed route in the western fjords of Iceland. On the last of our three days, the temperatures hovered well above freezing and the ice was dripping like crazy. Despite the weather challenges, Tim fired up a very drippy, thin, almost translucent pillar. The pillar lead the way to an amazing headwall of ice. It was the boldest and coolest three pitch climb of the trip.
It was a shared passion that drove our team forward.
Tim and I were a solid team and we worked really well together. We both had a big insatiable appetite for ice climbing. It was a shared passion that drove our team forward. Each consecutive day we rallied and climbed in less than ideal conditions. Rest days were not something that we scheduled in. Each day we climbed, we knew that it could be the last “good” day in the fjords.
The weather never turned in our favor. Warm temperatures and driving rain chased us away. The team eventually left the western Fjords for the consolation prize of glacier ice climbing. I reluctantly left the western fjords. I was seriously heart broken, as I did not want to give up this place that I loved so much. As we traveled the southern coast of Iceland, I longed for the western fjords like a schoolgirl with a crush. My longing disrupted my ability to fully enjoy our new path of adventure a long the southern coast.
My passion for ice climbing has not waned over my seventeen year ice career. I found Iceland to be so incredibly magical and awe inspiring that it fueled my spirit to push further. Iceland was everything I had dreamed of and more.
I was more than delighted to share my stories and experiences with my Grandfather after returning from these trips. I honored my loved grandfather, Mr. Frank Konopinski, by naming an entire sector in the western fjords after him. The Kono Wall will forever keep his memory alive. This was my way to come full circle with my crazy idea. I felt I was doing these trips for both he and I. I am glad I took action and pursed this dream before my Grandpa passed away this summer.
I am still obsessed with the Western Fjords of Iceland. I know that the possibility of more unclimbed ice and mixed lines exists. The desire to complete what I have started is overwhelming. I must return soon, and I plan to make that return in 2014.
– Dawn Glanc