Slip-up at Seljalandsfoss
Yesterday on a tour we arrived at Seljalandsfoss. I gave the members of my group a pair of microspikes each and we headed to the icy waterfall.
As we approached I was instructing my group about the safety issues and I noticed some tourists were behind the falls. Suddenly I heard a man screaming loudly and I looked over to see a woman sliding defencelessly down the frozen bank towards the waterfall.
As she hit a flat surface at the bottom of the bank, she was helpless against the thick ice and continued to slide towards the water. She entered the water and was extremely fortunate to have hit a very shallow part of the pond. The water barely reached her knees as she gratefully came to a halt.
I considered my advantage of wearing microspikes and ran up the steps and behind the waterfall to assist her. The man who was with her also had microspikes and together we were able to assist her safely up the bank. She was shaken but unhurt. She was extremely lucky as tourists are lost to icy conditions all the time. If this was at the top of Skogafoss or Gullfoss, this would be a very different story.
She was wearing instep grips, these are very minor crampons for lightweight use. They slip onto your shoe easily, but evidently they slip around your shoe just as easily. These cheap ice claws may help you for day to day coping with icy footpaths, but to tackle an Icelandic waterfall with them is foolhardy.
I see it all the time at this waterfall, people risking their safety to get a good picture and they could have though much harder about safety equipment. I always have suitable spikes for my customers and we are able to get great pictures without being in too much risk. It is always essential to be cautious when you have the right safety equipment, without the right equipment, don’t even bother.
The memory which stays with me more than anything from this experience was the loud screaming from her partner, this was the sound of someone who thought he had lost his loved one. A sound I will never forget.
The only place I know of which sell microspikes in Iceland…
We checked out the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall earlier in the day and there were 6 – 10 tourists walking through the scene at any one time.
The one thing we agreed on was to leave our tents erect and stay another night at the falls.
This is a strange volcanic lake. It goes very deep in places and used to be the deepest lake in Iceland.