Did you know that about 11% of Iceland’s land mass is made up of glaciers? These unique structures are covered in ice and snow year round. As a result, locals and visitors alike are able to enjoy various cold-weather activities on Iceland’s glaciers. It’s possible to go snowmobiling, hiking and even ice climbing on many of Iceland’s stunning glaciers. In this article, we will share more information about Eiríksjökull Glacier. Keep reading to learn more.
Where is Eiríksjökull Glacier located?
Eiríksjökull Glacier is located in west Iceland in the Borgarfjöður region. The glacier can be found just northwest of the Langjökull Glacier, Iceland’s second-biggest ice cap. In fact, it is possible to visit both Langjökull Glacier and Eiríksjökull Glacier on the same day. It is interesting to compare these two mighty glaciers, which differ in size and shape yet still share some of the same glacial characteristics.
It is also interesting to note that Eiríksjökull is located in the Hallmundarhraun lava field. Hallmundarhraun was formed around the year 930 during a massive volcanic eruption. The lava field is about 8-9 cubic kilometers (about 2 cubic miles) and is home to three famous caves: Vidgelmir, Stefanshellir and Surtshellir. At 1585 meters (5200 ft) long, Vidgelmir is one of the longest lava caves in Iceland. Visitors are able to explore Vidgelmir on tours with local guides.
How big is Eiríksjökull Glacier?
At 1675 meters (5,495 feet) high and 22 ㎢ (8 ㎡), Eiríksjökull Glacier sits atop one of the largest table mountains in Iceland. Also known as tuya, table mountains have a flat top surrounded by steep sides. Table mountains are formed when subglacial lava erupts through a thick glacier or ice sheet. If you look at Eiríksjökull, you will notice the distinctive flat top ringed by cliffs that are 500-600 meters (1500-2000 feet) high. Another notable table mountain in Iceland is Herðubreið, which can be found in Vatnajökull National Park.
Is Eiríksjökull a volcano-glacier?
Yes, Eiríksjökull is a volcano-glacier. Many years ago, the mountain was formed as lava erupted through thick glacial ice. Nowadays, Eiríksjökull is considered to be dormant or perhaps even extinct. This means that while the volcano-glacier has not erupted in a very long time, there is a small chance it could still erupt. However, there is no need to worry.
Iceland is known for having a significant amount of volcanic activity. Consequently, there are very strong monitoring systems in place all around the country. The Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Icelandic Civil Protection Agency work together to monitor seismic activity, gas emissions and changes in surface deformation that could indicate a sign of volcanic activity. As a result, we are able to have a very good idea about future volcanic eruptions across Iceland.
In fact, Iceland’s monitoring systems were able to detect a 4.6 magnitude earthquake about 13.8 kilometers south of Eiríksjökull Glacier on June 24, 2022. An earthquake is often the first sign of a potential volcanic eruption. However, no further earthquakes have occurred in the area. It is considered safe to explore and hike on Eiríksjökull Glacier at this time.
Is it possible to hike Eiríksjökull Glacier?
Yes, it is possible to hike Eiríksjökull Glacier. However, hiking Eiríksjökull is very challenging. It is only recommended that very experienced hikers tackle this route. Furthermore, it is a good idea to find a local guide to accompany you on your hike up Eiríksjökull Glacier. Your guide can plan the route and give excellent advice about the area.
As noted previously, the sides of Eiríksjökull are very steep. You will be hiking up an incline and experiencing quick elevation gain, so hiking poles are a must. Typically, hikers start their route from the west side of the glacier.
If you do wish to hike up Eiríksjökull, make sure you bring proper gear and wear sturdy shoes. You will need to wear layers including a wool base layer. It is also important to bring waterproof gear and check the forecast at vedur.is. Weather in Iceland can be very unpredictable, so it is essential to be well-prepared. Furthermore, you should always register your adventures on safetravel.is.
What activities are available near Eiríksjökull Glacier?
There are many exciting activities you can do in the area surrounding Eiríksjökull Glacier. Super jeep tours are a favorite of visitors and locals alike. Hop in one of these mighty vehicles under and explore the most rugged roads. Super jeep tours are always led by experienced guides who will ensure your safety and tell interesting stories about the area.
Helicopter tours offer a different perspective of the Eiríksjökull Glacier. Enjoy amazing views from above of Eiríksjökull, Langjökull and the Hallmundarhraun lava field. Your expert pilot might even make a landing, allowing you to get out of the helicopter and see the landscape up close.
Snowmobiling tours are a great way to explore the area near Eiríksjökull Glacier. Zoom across ancient ice on the massive Langjökull glacier and experience epic views. On a clear day, you can see Eiríksjökull Glacier, Hofsjökull Glacier and the Kerlingafjöll Mountains.
Amazing Tours offers several epic snowmobiling adventures on the Langjökull Glacier in the Borgarfjöður region. Amazing Tours even offers several tour options that include a direct pickup from Reykjavík. For example, you can easily join the Golden Circle and Snowmobile Adventure from Reykjavík or the Glacier Snowmobiling and Ice Cave Tour From Reykjavík. These fun combo tours are a great way to experience two Icelandic adventures in one day.
If you do not need a pickup from Reykjavík, you can head directly to the Amazing Tours Basecamp to meet up with your expert guide. If you want to choose this option, you will need to book the Golden Circle for the Glacier Snowmobiling and Ice Cave from Geysir tour.
Are any hot springs located near Eiríksjökull Glacier?
Yes, in fact the Borgarfjöður region is known for having an abundance of geothermal activity. For example, Deildartunguhver is a famous hot spring located in the area. In fact, Deildartunguhver is the highest-flowing hot spring in Europe with a flow rate of 180 liters (47 gallons) per second.
At 97 degrees Celsius (207 degrees Fahrenheit), the water flowing from Deildartunguhver is extremely hot. Visitors are not allowed to touch the water for fear of injury; however, it is possible to walk through the hot springs and observe the hot water from a safe distance.
Is there a story behind the name Eiríksjökull?
In Icelandic, Eiríksjökull can be translated to “Eirík’s Glacier.” So who is this Eirík and why is a glacier named after him? We can’t know for certain, but there is a story explaining the glacier’s name. Back in the day, many outlaws were said to hide from authorities in the huge Surtshellir cave in Hallmundarhraun. One of these outlaws was said to be named Eirík.
The outlaws in Surtshellir had done some very bad misdeeds. A group of villagers came to rouse them out of the caves and attack them. All were killed but for one named Eirík who was cut very badly on his leg. Even so, he escaped and ran towards the glacier that is now called Eiríksjökull.