"The most incredible experience anyone could wish for"
Smith says that the expedition, although cut short by today's storm, was an incredible one. Photos/ The Coldest Crossing
Charlie Smith, one of the five young British men to attempt an unsupported crossing of the Icelandic highlands in midwinter says that the crossing was incredible despite the fallbacks.
"It was the most incredible experience anyone could wish for," says Smith to mbl.is adding that the beauty of nature was magnificent.
Smith, who led the group which calls itself The Coldest Crossing, explains that the team had been soaking wet when they decided to call the Landsbjörg rescue team this morning to ask for assistance. "We set off early this morning but the weather didn't go according to forecast. We only got two kilometres away from the place where we'd camped the night before and then it started raining."
"We asked Landsbjörg for advice and they told us that they were coming to fetch us as an immense storm was on its way. They said that if we continued and something went wrong we could get stuck completely alone in the highlands. I think it was the right decision to make to ask for assitance."
The National Coastguard helicopter picked up the hikers just after noon today from the Emstrar mountain hut by the Botná river.
The group being picked up today. Photo/Landsbjörg
In an earlier story in Morgunblaðið it was revealed that the group was comprised of five young Brits intending to spend Christmas in the highlands and travelling on skis across the country in 18 days. The group were heading for Landmannalaugar in the highlands, intending to spend Christmas Eve in the warm natural pools there.
Soon after starting their journey, one of the hikers was rescued from the highlands and flown back to Britain as he was suffering from a bad infection. A second from the group suffered deep frostbite to his toes and also had to return.
Two US filmmakers met up with the remaining three British hikers one week ago to capture the adventure on film, and they were part of the group rescued today by the helicopter.
Inside the helicopter today. Photo/Landsbjörg
Despite the setbacks Smith raves about the journey. "When we got to the highlands from Eyjafjarðardalur I remember a magnificent day when the sun was seen on half of the sky but on the other half, an immense wall of clouds. What a magnificent sight. We really enjoyed being tested by nature, in conditions that are one of the most extreme on this planet. This journey was an eye opener. "
The group at the start of their journey.
Smith says that the journey was harder than expected. "Iceland is unpredictable and we had no expectations as to how difficult or how easy this would be. In the end, Iceland didn't disappoint. The weather was ever changing and I remember one day it snowed without there being a single cloud in the sky. I've never seen anything like it."
The aim of The Coldest Crossing was to inspire young people to seek out adventures and Smith believes this was successful although the expedition came to an abrupt end. He also wishes to express his thanks for the assistance they received. "People were lovely wherever we went. Up north we got to stay with people we had just met or their friends, people literally did everything to help us out."
The group leaves Iceland on January 4th. On New Year's Eve they will be staying at Kex Hostel on Skúlagata in Reykjavik and then they plan to go to the city centre to partake in the festivities. "We've heard that your New Year's Eve is the best in the world and we're not going to miss it."