4 August, 2012 - Verslumannahelgi
Mælifellshnúkur is one of the "important" mountains in Skagafjörður. You can see it from just about everywhere, standing by itself at the head of the valley, and it lends its name to quite a few places in the valley. It's a pretty good sight from Kata's family's summerhouse too, and I'd always planned on going up there one weekend. This year was finally the time. I had some notes from a book I have, Icelandic Mountains / Íslensk Fjöll, which mentioned two ways up, (no tracks, just "routes" and said 2-3 hours. I drove around a bit, before deciding that the longer north west ridge looked more scenic, and probably gentler.
This was... not exactly true. The north west ridge is certainly doable, but it was quite a bit rougher than I'd expected, and particularly between the false summit and the top, the ridge there is extremely loose, with some long potential slides. I skirted around as best I could, but it was rough slippery going at times.
It was very scenic though, and I had the route entirely to myself and the sheep. There were human tracks in quite a few places, this wasn't new ground in anyway, just a bit rougher than I'd expected.
On top, I found a guest book with 6 people before me already that day. Oh, and a track marked with sticks coming up the southern side of the summit. Given where I'd left the car, I wasn't entirely thrilled about following a nicer track down away from the car, but I wasn't entirely thrilled about going back down all the loose rock I'd come up over. Another person arrived while I was enjoying the view though, and said it only goes south for a few hundred meters before looping back and down the western slope.
So, down I went. And passed another 8-9 people coming up that way. It's a proper professionally made track, sticks and steps and in good shape, leading all the way back to a picnic ground and signposts. I guess I just hadn't driven quite far enough around while scouting the mountain :)
With the walk back to the car, this ended up being 4.5 hours, which is a little more than I'd expected, but at the end of the day, it also meant I'd achieved a lot more too :)
It's a lovely walk either way. The scenery is continually exciting going up the ridge, but you probably get a lot more way factor going up the track, as the northern view down the valley to the sea wouldn't be seen until you reached the last few meters before the summit. A good afternoon out!