It is a privilege to run a travel magazine like Stuck in Iceland. I meet a lot of great people and once in awhile I am invited to try out extraordinary and innovative new experiences. This happened last Monday when I was invited to try out the amazing ice tunnel at the top of Langjökull glacier.
The tunnel can be considered a lot of things. For starters it is a feat of engineering. Its length is five hundred meters which makes it the largest tunnel of its kind in the world. To create it took over four years of concerted effort of workers, engineers, glaciologists, artists and architects.
Some 5,500 square meters of ice were excavated to create the tunnel and it takes you some 25 meters underneath the surface of the massive Langjökull glacier. It needs to be built in a height over 1,300 meters to minimize the effects of glacial movement and shifting. Making sure that the opening doesn´t disappear under the massive snowfall every winter is a large project all unto itself. It is all perfectly safe, the glacier walls are sturdy and the roofs of the spaces there are like cathedral domes.
It is also a work of art. Some of it is intentional and man made but nature augments and improves upon the man made structure. The ice is smooth, rock hard and slick to the touch and is illuminated by LED lights which enhances its natural beauty.
But the beauty of nature is becomes even more impressive close up, you can see how the glacier is made up of hard ice bubbles of air and constructed in tightly packed layers.
The tunnel reveals the more menacing side of nature when it reveals a massive crevice at one point, you look sideways into that abyss which is partly illuminated with giant icicles looming up high and nothing but the pitch black and cold darkness in the distance.
The tunnel also sports a chapel that is ideal for weddings and as far as I know one wedding has already taken place there. When we were in there one guy re-enacted a proposal to his fiancé.
My wife who is the best soprano singer in Iceland is, sung an impromptu Icelandic folk song to the starstruck audience.
The ice tunnel is also a great educational tool for geology, climatology and of course glaciology. The excavation leaves behind ice walls that clearly display reveal ash and tephra layers from past volcanic eruptions. The layers of ice also reveal climate and weather patterns, readable to scientists. Furthermore, you gain an understanding of how the glacier has formed and is constantly changing, shifting, retreating and advancing. Our guide, Bryndís was extremely knowledgeable about these things and her tour around the ice tunnel was like a crash course in all of these sciences.
I experienced all of this on Monday. It was a perfect day, not a cloud in the sky so we were treated with a fantastic view up on the glacier and I came home with 330 pictures and videos. Days like these don´t come too often and I always feel like I have won some kind of lottery when I experience them. On to the next adventure!