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Iceland—a journey through fire and ice

Date: 
Tue, 2021-07-27

The July Mountaineers meeting will feature a talk by Kristen Honig entitled “Iceland—a journey through fire and ice”, on Tuesday evening, July 27.

In February 2020, Kristen embarked on a journey to visit the majestic ice caves of Iceland. An increasingly popular tourist attraction, most ice caves nowadays are filled with several hundred tourists clamoring for a glimpse of the scalloped blue ice. Instead of taking one of these traditional tours, Kristen traveled by helicopter to a remote network of ice caves on the Skeiðarárjökull outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull ice cap. There, a small group of 3 fellow photographers and a legendary Icelandic guide spent 5 hours touring a labyrinth of ice tunnels and caves—some barely large enough to squeeze through. The ice itself was filled with volcanic ash, sediment, rocks of all sizes, and abstract pockets of air. She returned to the United States one week later, just before border restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic.

A little over one year and two vaccination shots later, Kristen returned to Iceland in early May 2021—this time to witness an erupting volcano! She spent two nights at the Geldingadalir volcano, hiking 8 miles round-trip across steep terrain, and taking a helicopter flight over the volcano on a third evening. Despite all the news coverage prior to her departure, nothing could quite prepare her for the sight that unfolded when she crested the final ridge and stared down into the volcano. By this point in the eruption, the lava was concentrated along a single vent, which would erupt as a gigantic geyser shooting lava more than 1,000’ into the air. She was close enough to feel the heat and hear the roar of the eruption. One month later, the observation hill where she witnessed the eruption was completely surrounded by lava and the hiking trail itself was cut off. The volcano is still active today with lava creeping towards the coast, but the opportunity to witness the eruption up close has since passed. Kristen will share her highlights and photos from both of these trips to Iceland.

Mountaineers’ meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month. When held in person, they take place in the planetarium of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), 2600 Canyon Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544. Recent meetings have been held electronically starting at 7:00 PM; the Mountaineers are considering when and how to return to in-person meetings. Registration details for this virtual meeting can be found at  https://peecnature.org/events/details/?id=37213.

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