Text by Sylvia Rut Sigfusdottir, from Vísir.is
Professional mountain guide Einar Rúnar Sigurðsson reached the peak of Hvannadalshnjúkur for the 300th time earlier this month, but Hvannadalshnjúkur is the highest peak in Iceland.
We first got to know Einar last summer when we accompanied him on a glacier-hunting trip to Vatnajokull, the biggest ice cap in Iceland, and the third biggest in Europe.
At that time, Einar had peaked Hvannadalshnjúkur 297 times, with only 3 times to go.
Einar claims he has never photographed as many times on Hvannadalshnjukur, or "Hnjukurinn" as it's called. In total, he has peaked the it 300 times, excluding the attempts where he didn't make it all the way due to bad conditions. "I took a lot longer route than I'm currently used to so I could photograph more, so in addition it was a very successful trip for photography".
Frozen lobster soup
Usually Einar hikes with his colleagues but this time he decided to go solo.
"It was around -15°C when I finally sat down at the top to eat my lobster soup. It froze while I was eating so I could eat it with a fork. But I also had an ice cold Coca Cola on the side".
"My first trip to "Hnjukurinn" was in 1989 when I was 21 years old. I thought it would be the first and only time I would do it - just so I could tell my grandchildren that I had done it, just like our ancestors." says Einar. To Einar's surprise, he found out later that his grandfather had been the first man to peak the Hvannadalshnjukur in 1891. "Truth to be told, this must have been somewhat destiny. This is obviously in our genes. I've been up there with a lot of my relatives. It's apparently in our genes to hike as high as you can in this country of ours".
Walked all the way back home
Einar claims that regularly hiking the "Hnjukurinn" is the best method to keep in shape for actually guiding other travellers up to this 2,109m high peak.
When he's asked why he's been so many times up the "Hnjukurinn", and why he goes again and again - he replies: "My wife asks me about it frequently. I just think there has to be a loose screw some where in my head, it must be something like that.
It's just extremely fun, it's literally in my backyard, I'm born in this area and basically raised right on the roots of this mountain."
Einar has always lived on the farm of Hofsnes in Öræfi. In his most recent trip, he decided to walk all the way back to his home in Öræfi.
"I took 30 km yesterday instead of the regular 22 km. I went another way down and walked all the way down to my house, I arrived with the skies on my bag after around 10 hours hike. You can really tell that after that kind of hike, you really feel that your body has reached it's limit - which is the exact thing I feel my body needs."
Imagined himself as a cowboy
Early on, he had already thought to himself about going on the top of this high peak.
"It was always running through my head. I was only a boy and TV had just been brought to Iceland when I started watching black and white cowboy movies. For me, the "Wild west" movies were always full of action and associated with pop & coke. I can see the peaks through the window of my house and I always imagined that if I'd climb these peaks that I'd see cowboys and indians on the other side."
Einar admits being a bit disappointed when he peaked for the first time and realized that there was nothing but a vast of snow and an old crater visible from the top - no cowboys. He is nowhere near stopping his hobby of peaking this highest point of Iceland, and claims that he'll continue to do so as long as his body is physically able to.
"I'm just lucky that my health allows me to do this. I've guided an eighty year old man from Switzerland to the top, so I tell myself that I have around 30 years left of doing this - but I turn 50 this summer.
When Einar arrived home from his 300th trip he went straight to his hot tub for relaxation.
"It's so good to relax and enjoy life after these kind of trips, you never feel better than that. I think this is just very healthy and good for me."