Added by James Hueser
Kristínartindar is an epic scramble in Skaftafell overlooking a tongue of Vatnajökull. The trail also includes Svartifoss - a waterfall surrounded by columnar basalts.
Kristínartindar isn't for the feint of heart, and even I almost fall into that category. But a lot of the trail can be done extremely easy, and is still a really awesome hike as it overlooks a glacial tongue.
The hike starts at Skaftafell Visitor Centre, and you'll actually start on the Svartifoss trail - very well marked and signed. This trail can be done as a loop, either counter-clockwise and do Kristínartindar to Svartifoss, clockwise. I suggest if the sun's out, head up the ridge to Kristínartindar first.
The trail is well defined and has wooden stakes marking it almost all the way to the top. I always love walking by glaciers and observing and photographing the different colours and textures in the ice, so this was a real treat. The hike is pretty tame until you start pushing for the false summit of Kristínartindar, i.e. gaining elevation quickly.
Thankfully, the false summit doesn't actually need to be summited, try to contour around the base of it to the saddle which connects the false and true summit. Once at that saddle, you might get chills. There's still a fair climb ahead of you, and it's up some really slabby stuff. The good news is that it's mostly competent rock and the slabs are very good jugs or pinches that are easy to climb up.
Once you're past the slabs, head along the ridge as far as you want to/can. Not only do you have the glacier tongue, you have a glacial outwash valley on the west, the lava field and ocean to the south, and Vatnajökull to the north - you're able to see quite a lot of the icefield.
As we all hate downclimbing, the slope of Kristínartindar is absolutely perfect for setting a glissading distance record, you just need to get off those slabs first!
Back on the smaller ridge, you'll have to head to the west to hook up with the Svartifoss loop. It's a really easy hike that you should definitely check out. Iceland has a lot of waterfalls, but this one is very special.
- Hiking boots
- Hiking poles
- Appropriate layers and clothing - waterproof clothing is highly recommended!
- Water and snacks
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