Want to Dig Tunnel in Race Against Time

Vala Hafstað

The snowmobile tour company and travel service Mountaineers of Iceland has been granted permission from Bláskógabyggð municipality, West Iceland, to dig a 100-m (328-ft) ice tunnel into Suðurjökull glacier, the south part of Langjökull glacier. The reason for the application: natural ice caves are melting, due to the climate crisis.

“We must react to a changing situation, not least when the number of tourists is on the decline, so that we have something to offer,” Herbert Hauksson, co-founder of the company tells Fréttablaðið.

The application, filed in April, requests a 50x500-m lot on Suðurjökull glacier, by Skálpanes, for digging a man-made tunnel into the glacier.

“We’ve been taking tourists to natural ice caves at the glacier toe. Now, those are just melting away,” Herbert laments. He adds they are melting very fast.

Asked whether the new tunnel will resemble the man-made tunnel on Langjökull’s west side, he responds that the new one will be 100-m (328-ft) long, while the one on the west side is 500-m (1,640-ft) long.

“We’ll be at an elevation of seven to 800 m (2,625 ft), actually on the glacier toe. We plan to be where the ice is the densest, so this will last the longest and so that the ice is clear and transparent,” he explains.

Yesterday, the municipal council of Bláskógabyggð granted a one-year permit for operation in the area.

“All of this is at an initial stage,” Herbert stresses. “This is a race against time, because the other caves are disappearing.” He states that glacier tours are very popular among tourists. “Glaciers are, of course, disappearing in a warming climate, and people find them unique. They want to go into the glacier, or into some kind of tunnel.”

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