We put the new Squall® System to the test in Iceland’s rugged landscapes and unpredictable weather. Because if it works here, it’ll work anywhere.
By Mike Keegan, Art Director, Lands' End Business
Day 3: Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike & Climb
After experiencing a day's worth of punishing winds and driving sleet at Thingvellir—and seeing how well the Squall® System protected us from the cold and moisture—my brother Tom and I decided to raise the stakes even higher. So we headed to Sólheimajökull, a 9-mile-long glacier that branches off from Iceland's central ice cap. Wearing our Squall System shells and ThermaCheck® 200 fleece liners, we met up with our guide and set off on a 5K hike across the glacier. As we approached it we were surprised to see how much Sólheimajökull had retreated in recent years as Iceland's climate has warmed. A sign rooted in a pile of boulders indicated the location of the glacier's edge in 2010—a long way from where it lies today.
Once on top of the ice there was a noticeable temperature drop. It was really windy, but the combination of the shell and fleece jacket kept us warm without weighing us down—which was a good thing, because mobility is key. You have to be nimble and pay attention to where you are walking, since the melting process has opened up deep crevasses stained black by volcanic ash, some filled with water. If you slipped and fell into one, you probably wouldn't make it back out. Heading into an ice cave, we finally came face to face with our destination—a 50-foot wall of ice. Having warmed up on the hike, we both unzipped and removed the fleece liner jackets and put our Squall System shells back on. The waterproof fabric was a lifesaver, for while the ice looked hard and dry, it melted pretty fast once you touched it.
Tom and I made it to the top without getting wet, even though we were, of course, pressing against the surface of the glacier for most of the climb. Once over the top, we faced a 5K hike back, only this time it was chillier since it was much later in the day. We zipped our fleece jackets back in under our shells and headed back to civilization, as the early evening sun painted the mountainsides gold and highlighted the rich colors of the treeless landscape.
Each of us could cross "climb a glacier in Iceland" off our bucket list. But this incredible island had more experiences and surprises in store for us, and more tests for our Squall System outerwear.
To be continued ...