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Iceland Rock Climbing 

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Submitted By: Jim Amidon on May 16, 2009
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Getting There 

Almost everyone flies into Keflavik International Airport, SW of Reykjavik.

If you arrive and want to sleep right away, there’s a campground 15 minutes north. It’s in Gardur, next to the lighthouse. Cost is around 1200 ISK per person per night, and you pay at the café in the old lighthouse if it’s open.

Reykjavik is beautiful city situated 45 minutes from Keflavik international airport on a peninsula. We used a rental car for the climbing near by, about an hours drive. The rest of the time in the city we used our feet. The temperatures in Reykjavik was from bitter cold to a light jacket on either ends of our trip there.


Iceland is a gorgeous country with great wilderness and excellent climbing, whether it’s sport, trad, ice, mountaineering or bouldering that you’re after. The Ring Road, also known as Hwy 1, circumnavigates the country, and just staying on this road will lead you to plenty of climbing adventures.

For the southern half Iceland, you can think of it like a two-layer wedding cake. The highlands are in the middle, surrounded by a plain that leads out to sea with fertile farmland. The northern half has the highlands, as well, but the lower tier of the wedding cake consists of many valleys and fjords leading out to the sea rather than a broad plain. The Fjords aren’t soaring rock walls like you think of when you picture climbing in Norway. These fjords are mainly enormous piles of volcanic rubble and scree.

Nearly all of the rock climbing crags consist of columnar basalt outcrops or cliff bands. There is a tremendous volume of bouldering opportunity spread around the southern half. In winter and early spring months, ice routes come in all around the country as the glaciers feed fangs of ice dripping down from the highlands into the thousands of valleys. There are plenty of alpine routes, as well, ranging from week-long hikes to technical ascents.

Iceland can easily be made part of a European climbing trip if you fly Iceland Air from North America. They allow up to 7 day “stay overs” in Iceland when you book for no extra charge on the plane ticket. If you have the time, you could plan a European climbing trip that has a week-long layover on both the inbound and outbound legs if you’re coming from, and back to, North America.

Camping is readily available and, so long as you avoid Lake Mývatn area, you can camp for free in farm fields along the road. Be respectful, though. Try to stay out of sight of people’s homes (they don’t want to look out their window at your bright orange tent). Bring a shovel/trowel to bury your feces. I’m not kidding: bury it.

Traveling on the main roads is easy and safe. But get the windshield and paint chip insurance package for a rental car. Nearly half of all rentals that are out for five days or more come back with stone chip damage. There are a lot of gravel roads, and the island is almost entirely made out of volcanic rubble: stones are flying on every roadway. If you rent a car, it and its fuel will your largest expense in-country, and food will be your second, unless you stay at the fancy hotels.

Rental cars come in three flavors: (1) passenger vehicle or camper van that’s good for driving you around the country on Hwy 1 and stopping at some climbing crags late spring to early fall. (2) 4WD/AWD passenger vehicle or camper van that you’ll want for winter travel around Hwy 1. (3) 4WD high-clearance truck or SUV for accessing the highlands for mountaineering and highland ice climbing--if you’re going to go this route, it might just be cheaper to hire a guide who provides the vehicle and food for you as well as takes you to the sweet spots and tells you about Icelandic history and magic elves.

You can literally drive around the entire country in less than two days if you really wanted to, but you wouldn’t see much out there. Plan for at least three days if you want to go to Hnappavellir, with over 100 sport routes including the hardest in Iceland: Ópus (5.13d). 48 hours in country is enough to climb everything at Valshamar. If you only have a day, you can still run over to Pöstin, about 2 hours from the airport, with 13 sport routes (5.5 - 5.10d) and a couple boulder problems.

There’s a ton of route information and approach beta at the main Icelandic climbing website, In the past, it has had access and server issues, but it is working again at the time of writing this. You can also use Google Translate on their site again, which had previously been blocked by Google.

Five climbing facilities cater to Icelanders, mainly focused on bouldering. The largest is Klifurhúsið ( in Reykjavik. This is your best option for a climbing gear store.

Drinking water: Iceland is expensive to visit, and I recommend you filter or treat your water if you’re going to pull it from a stream rather than risk ruining an awesome trip with gastro. You can also fill up at bathrooms, campgrounds, or buy bottled water. Icelanders will tend to drink directly from any stream in Iceland, with two exceptions:
1) Streams that run through farms. They have livestock shit in them, and sometimes fertilizers. Don’t drink it unfiltered.
2) Glacial outwash. They’re very gritty and silted, and they will clog your filter quickly.

Basic camping supplies, such as stove gas, is readily available at gas stations.

There are two grocery stores on Hwy 41 as you head east from Keflavik Airport, and they are priced the same as other grocery stores around the island. Bónus stores, with the pig logo, are known to be slightly cheaper. Krónan stores are nearly the same price. These two stores share a parking lot about 3.2km east of the Keflavik roundabout.

Iceland has a lot to offer climbers, and not only with their rock and ice. Check it out and report back on your awesome adventures!

Climbing Season

For the Europe area.

Weather station 57.2 miles from here

48 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',4],['2 Stars',4],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Featured Route For Iceland
Rock Climbing Photo: Center Wall Sea Cliffs

Center Wall WI3+  Europe : Iceland : ... : Sea Cliffs
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Godafoss in Northern Iceland One of the many many ...
Rock Climbing Photo: This place looks great . . .
This place looks great . . .
Rock Climbing Photo: No, you don't need to rent something like this...
No, you don't need to rent something like this...
Rock Climbing Photo: Reykjavik
Rock Climbing Photo: Iceland's  "old faithful"  There is so m...
Iceland's "old faithful" There is so m...
Rock Climbing Photo: Skogafoss on the southern coast
Skogafoss on the southern coast
Rock Climbing Photo: Reykjavik Street
Reykjavik Street

Comments on Iceland Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 17, 2017
By Mark Roth
From: Boulder
Jun 25, 2010
Just a note to add that there is some good rock climbing. There are about 5 developed sport climbing areas, and some ok bouldering around the country.
By Alex Nic
Jul 13, 2012
Bouldering area about 20 minutes outside of Reykjavik called Josef Staller (sp?).

If you go to climbing shops in town, on Bankestraeti and there is a climbing hall elsewhere, which is closed on weekends because everyone is out climbing, they will give you more information.

The best sport climbing area is about 4 hours south of Reykjavik. I will get the name soon.
By Clayton Knudson
From: Moab, UT
Mar 24, 2013
going to be in Reykjavik from April 20th to the 28th. Trying to keep the commitment to climb outside every month of the year and would like to know a spot to boulder close to the city. If anybody knows of a place and or info on a gym in the area that would be super helpful. PM me and thanks in advance.
By Erik O'Brien
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 18, 2015
I will be in a Reykjavik,Flokalundur and Akureyri durring my stay and was planning on bringing my shoes and a harness to see if I could find anyone/locals to climb with. The climbing info on Mountain Project is extremely limited so I was wondering if anyone would want to buddy up for a day or 2.
By S.K. Austin
Mar 18, 2015
When are you planning to be in reykjavik Erik?
By Jónas Sigurðsson
Mar 21, 2016
Iceland has a lot of well developed climbing, way more than 6 routes!

For sport, trad and bouldering you can visit There we have over 800 registered routes.

For ice, mix and alpine routes you can visit There we have registered almost 700 routes
By Nick Elders
Mar 22, 2016
I'm a 5.9-5.10 climber and I'm going to be in Iceland from May 12 - May 24. Was looking into rental gear because I wont have room to bring my own rope and draws but I cant find a place that does that. Anyone out there looking for a partner during that time or know of a place to rent some of the heavier gear I cant take on the plane?
By Tyler Rohr 2
From: Cambridge, MA
Apr 27, 2016
Definitely a long shot. But I will be in Iceland from June 10-12th and looking for someone to climb with. I lead (or can at least get up) 12+ sport 11- trad but would be happy to do anything from craving to something more adventurous. Let me know if anyone is per chance interested!
By Marcus Duvoisin
From: San Francisco, California
Aug 27, 2016
Will be in Iceland from Sept 24 to Oct 5, have rental car, looking for partner to go up some mountains or climb some rock :)
By Quentin L
Sep 25, 2016
Hello, will be in Iceland from Sept 30 to Oct 2, staying in Reykjavik and looking for partner to go up some mountains or climb some rock.
By Matthew Clausen
Jan 17, 2017
In Iceland, you might ask yourself, often, "How the hell am I supposed to say that word?" Or, "WTF did she just say? I thought the name of this place has an 'L' in it..."

Reviewing an Icelandic pronunciation guide will help a lot, and go a long way with showing respect to the locals:
Icelandic Alphabet Guide

But, when you inevitably make a mistake, don't worry. Icelanders readily admit their language is incredibly difficult to learn.
Rock Climbing Photo: Reading Icelandic Ain't Easy
Reading Icelandic Ain't Easy

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