Tourists Underestimate The Weather And Overestimate Their Capabilities

SAR teams coming to the aid of a jeep Photo/ Arnar Gunnarsson

Search and rescue teams in Iceland were recently called out seven times on the same day, three times to Fimmvörðuháls and again to Fimmvörðuháls this morning, this despite action taken to inform people of conditions. People it seems tend to underestimate the weather and overestimate their own capabilities. The weather often surprises Icelanders, so it obviously surprises tourists. Rescue teams and the travel industry could do better when educating travellers to Iceland, but more funds are needed for this effort and to improve  services such as the website Safe Travel

“If more funds were invested in that project more people could be informed and there should be more regulations on hiking paths.  The road to Landmannalaugar was opened very early, maybe it should have been closed for longer”, says Jónas Guðmundsson of the Landsbjörg SAR. He also points out that perhaps more demands should be placed on hikers who choose certain paths such as the Laugavegur route between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk.  “Hikers would need to speak to landguards and go over equipment and a safe travel plan. We could do plenty of things but that costs work and money. But it obviously costs work and money for rescue teams to be called out.”

Many hiking paths have opened early despite a long winter.  Many parts of Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls are still covered in snow. “People quickly become exhausted after hiking ten kilometres in the snow. These are all contributing factors: trails open too early, there’s still plenty of snow and the weather has been awful.  When the weather is bad people underestimate conditions. We’ve seen that happen over the years.”

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