After a hard season in 2015, Sierra Blair-Coyle wanted nothing more than just get to a rather silent place, Iceland. When she had to go back home, she knew that one day she would return for climbing. That’s what she did in June 2018. In her luggage: Plenty of new Mammut products to test.
Text: Sierra Blair-Coyle
Post 2015 Bouldering World Cup season I wanted to take a trip to somewhere new, somewhere not everyone had been. Iceland ended up being the destination of choice. While I only spent five days in Iceland during that 2015 trip (and doing zero outdoor climbing)…I left part of my soul in Iceland and knew I had to go back and experience the outdoor climbing that the island had to offer. Almost three years later in June 2018 I was back in Iceland. It was time to experience more of the magic that makes Iceland so special. While the itinerary was slightly different this time, I left even more of my soul in this breathtaking country. Our accommodations in Höfn, the tiny eastern town of 2,000 people near the climbing areas of Vestrahorn and Hnappavellir was a small cabin on an isolated farm. As always Icelanders are never short on hospitality and we immediately felt at home.
"During my entire trip I was comfortable, protected from the sharp rocks of Vestrahorn."
Vestrahorn was our first destination for bouldering, and believe me, Vestrahorn is a sight to see. Set on the seaside, fields of boulders lay below the larger mountain from where the area gains its name. Waves crash against the rocks and wind whips delicately or violently depending on the weather that day. The rock is sharp and unforgiving, much like the surrounding conditions when they are at their worst. But the climbing…the climbing is incredible. From highball boulders to lowball boulders to crimps to slopers to pockets…it seems like Vestrahorn has everything to offer. My first day on Vestrahorn was also the first day I was able to wear the new Mammut Aelectra top and tights outside. I had worn them before for indoor photo shoots, but this was the time to put them to the test on real rock. During my entire trip I was comfortable, protected from the sharp rocks of Vestrahorn, and I loved my new outfits.
After our first epic day on Vestrahorn, we had to take the next day as a rest day…because it was too windy to climb! This was the first time I have been “winded out” of a climbing day. In the evening the wind cleared to make way for heavy rain. Despite the heavy rain we wanted to try and get at least some bouldering in, so we made the drive to Fallsjökull (outlet glacier of Vatnajökull). We were tremendously rewarded for our trip, the midnight sun made for a soft pink and orange sky that was set beautifully behind a small glacier. With the wind slightly less forceful we made the trip to Vestrahorn again the next day. While it was still much windier than the average climbing day, we still managed to work on some good boulders and enjoyed a beautiful day out in nature.
"One of the most incredible parts of Iceland is how often you feel like you are literally in a storybook."
Deciding to not take any rest days, we switched up our climbing area the following day. Hnappavellir was our destination, an everstretching band of rock with the sea in the distance. One interesting fact about Hnappavellir is that the band of rock crosses different farms, so there are sheep all around! Hnappavellir is also a bouldering and sport climbing area, although we only explored the bouldering. The rock of Hnappavellir was a welcome change from the sharp rock of Vestrahorn. The moves flowed well and it felt like we were climbing in a fairytale the entire day (except for the one boulder where we had to climb above a deceased sheep). One of the most incredible parts of Iceland is how often you feel like you are literally in a storybook.
"Iceland has truly become my favorite place in the world for so many reasons."
After enjoying Hnappavellir we were hit with rain the next day. Conditions looked grim, but we waited out the rain and eventually made it to Vestrahorn for a quick afternoon session. This was our last outdoor climbing session in Iceland and it was worth it. Some new boulders were completed and we were ultimately rewarded for braving the elements yet again! Although this was only a piece of my trip to Iceland (we spent a few days sightseeing and climbing at Klifurhúsið (the gym in Reykjavik), I hope I was able to share some of the feelings of Icelandic magic with you. Iceland has truly become my favorite place in the world for so many reasons. From the climbing to the scenery to the incredible people, a part of my heart will forever be in Iceland.
And before I sign off I would like to thank Garpur Elisabetarson and Andri Ómarsson for showing us the incredible climbing Iceland has to offer. The trip would not have been the same without your wonderful company!