Shelter of the Gods – a True King Line of Iceland

Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner love the arctic regions for ice climbing. This time they headed to the north of Iceland, where they hunted for ice on the remotest places of the island. They have been successful – with “Shelter of the Gods” M10 they also found a true king line.

A special force of attraction for ice climbers can be found at the arctic areas. This unique quietness and serenity of the people living there is not only the reason that Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner travel for the eighth time to the very north of Europe. It contains endless possibilities, when conditions fit. There is also the special thrill that a journey to these sea level regions brings, because quite often the warm Gulf Stream brings too much warm air, which brings all ice climbing action to zero.



On the start of the trip it already seemed that all the effort was for nothing. A very strong and warm storm from the southwest brought a heatwave of more than 10 degrees and all ice formation began to melt down, which had formed in December. But luckily enough, the storm disappeared after one day and most of the ice was still there. Immediately the wind turned north and Iceland was freezing again. With a smile on their faces Benni and Albert started to hunt for ice. They know, when conditions are right, Iceland has many ice climbing jewels left. This time their focus has been on the north of the island to look for new lines on the remotest places. This turned out to be a good plan, because they could climb a first ascent nearly every day.



Peter Björg at the remote farm in Kaldakinn is a friend to the ice climbers. With a warm welcome, the Björg family hosts ice climbers from around the world, who want to visit one of the most spectacular places of the world for ice climbing. Directly from the farm one ice line after the other can be found on the 5km-long cliff. This time Benni and Albert found a special line in Kaldakinn. „Vaggfóður“ M6/WI6 is the Icelandic word for wall paper. The name „Vaggfóður“, means a vertical wall paper made of ice. The day before, they had climbed higher up in Öxnadalur, where they scored two first ascents with „Hoarniglsheidi“ M7/WI6 and „Exciting trousers“ M6.
They found it an exciting adventure to climb ice direct from the sea. At the seacliff of Kaldakinn you have to be careful when approaching the routes direct on the beach. It's only possible when the tide is low, for a few hours. Albert and Benni were able to do the last unclimbed route of the seacliff - „Tower of Ágúll“ WI5- a very nice line on the very right end of the beach.



There are amazing places on earth and there are amazing routes as well. To find both in combination is the most luck a climber can have. Such a route Benni and Albert found in the gorge of Ásbyrgi. This mythic place is called capitol of the elves. The legend says that this gorge with the shape of a horseshoe has made the magic horse Sleipnir, the horse of Odin. The scientists have a more common explanation for the gorge after a big flood caused by a volcanic fire at Vatnajökull area. Walking to this amazing gorge someone can feel that this place is special. In that special atmosphere they found on the very overhanging part of the gorge an amazing line of icicles. To combine this iceicle to a climbable route it was the next miracle that some lava bubbles have formed some tiny hooks on this blank face. Benni and Albert had to put forth all their climbing skill into the effort to free climb “Shelter of the Gods” M10 on the next day.



It should be said that bolting is not allowed in the national park of Ásbyrgi and any bolting activities have to have a permission of the national park ranger!
Intense days had come to an end with the first ascent of „With a little help from my friends“ WI5 at the seacliff of Nipa, which is only accessable by boat. Albert and Benni found the perfect day with a calm sea for this extraordinary adventure and with it, this amazing and intense ice climbing trip comes to its end.








Exciting trousers






WI6, M7





WI6, M6




Tower of Ágúll





Shelter of the gods





With a little help from my friends





A good selection of all ice climbing activities in Iceland you can find here:



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