Mad Dogs and Guinness
Reykjavik Travel Blog› entry 5 of 11 › view all entries
âMount Esja ........... You are going to walk it?â asked the bus driver, when I enquired if he could inform me when the bus reached the base of the mountain. When I affirmed my intention to do just this, he replied âYouâre mad!â
When I had woken up this morning it was a dreary day, grey, with constant drizzle driven by a gusting wind. It wasnât the kind of day I had been hoping for on my little stroll up Mount Esja! However I decided to get ready and head into town for something to eat, and see if things improved at all.
I had a bowl of chilli tomato soup, with cheese and some filling bread the food of champions at my favourite little coffee house, so I was feeling pretty good despite the weather. I went in search of a more detailed map, as I hoped to have a wander along the summit ridge to the high point if the weather permitted. Suitably nourished and equipped I decided to take a trip to the base and have a âlook seeâ anyway, as I was determined not to spend another day dawdling around the City.
I sorted myself out in to full waterproofs and warm clothing at the bus stop and set off, the guidebook describes the first summit Pennhorn as taking around an hour and a half, but I doubt if the author had this kind of conditions in mind. However I made pretty good progress, as expected there did not seem to be anybody else out having a midday stroll. Wait a minute, what was that I could see just coming over the distant rise, a couple making their way down. I reached them in a few minutes and surprise, surprise they turned out to be English, from Buckinghamshire, I rest my case Milord! They had turned back around two thirds of the way up due to the strong winds and because they were worried about the clag that was closing in around the top.
The route up is a well-trodden path and is very well marked; it even has numbered marker posts from top to bottom, six in all. The intrepid English couple had turned back between four and five. The path takes splits into a few different paths above marker four and route finding is a tiny bit trickier, but still no great problems. The wind however was becoming a real problem, I have been out in some severe mountain weather, but this was probably the strongest wind I have experienced. It was difficult to stand as the wind swept up towards the col, picking up speed as it did, I was blown backwards several times and every step required a herculean effort and immense concentration. I had made exceedingly good time to this point, reaching it in less than forty minutes, it took me a further forty to walk the remaining few hundred feet, and Iâm really not exaggerating just how severe the wind was
I managed to get into the leeward side of the slope and out of the wind for a short time but had to move back into the wind to make my way onto the summit. There was not of course any view to enjoy, the top was completely under cloud cover, the only reason I was really stood on top of this âhillâ was sheer bloody-minded stubbornness! I had intended to explore the ridge somewhat further, but in these conditions there wasnât any point and it would probably have been a folly to do so. I actually prefer going up to down, and in these conditions it was not going to be any fun descending. I had to once again walk into the teeth of the wind and I made my way down as quickly as possible, pausing only once to take a couple of photographs. The more detailed map I had searched high and low for, as Iceland doesnât seem to have any great need for maps with a scale of less than 1:75,000 had been an extravagant I hadnât needed after all.
I arrived back at the bus stop pretty wet as the wind had driven the rain through my waterproofs. It doesnât really matter how good the material of waterproof clothing is, if you are out in wet windy conditions long enough you will eventually get wet! The English couple, Mike and Pat were waiting, they had been there for over an hour now and there was still thirty minutes or more before the bus arrived. We chatted and I got out of some of my wet stuff, and put on some dry things to make myself more comfortable. They found it pretty amusing when I took off my approach shoes and wrung out my socks, but I had the last laugh........... my feet werenât cold, unlike theirs.
The bus eventually arrived and I got dropped off at the bus station. While I was there I double checked that I could just turn up for the bus to Akureyi tomorrow and would be able to get a place without booking. This was confirmed and in fact I was informed it wasnât even possible to book anyway. I also decided to book a ticket for the Golden Circle (I know youâre dying to know, but Iâll tell you later) tour on Monday.