|Land of more than ice. Although we're standing on ice here.|
When you tell people you're going to Iceland, you don't get the same response as when you say - I'm going to Brazil, Hawaii, or even Cheesecake Factory. Instead, people tilt their head slightly left, look you over from head to toe, and ask: why? But if you're a travel bandit - one who steals an opportunity to travel whenever they can - then you know Iceland is an experiential smoothie of geographic wonderment, action sports, and never-ending nightlife. The legend goes some vikings, led by Fran Tarkenton, wanted to hog all of the island's glory for themselves, so they called it the ever-so non-welcoming, Iceland. Meanwhile, they deceptively named a nearby island that was hardly livable and consistently miserable, the ever-so inviting, Greenland. Those tricky vikings! Scandinavians were getting suckered into going to the ice planet in "Empire Strikes Back," while Fran Tarkenton and Daunte Culpepper sipped on pina coladas with their toes in the black sand. Yes, there are black sand beaches in Iceland.
|Yes. It was cold.|
|Iceland has lots of waterfalls. This is actually someone's slip-n-slide. #TheyGoHard|
Before we left the airport, we handled our hydration situation. Iceland is extremely expensive and we were forewarned that drinks in downtown Reykjavik can quickly lighten your wallet. We stocked up on Reyka, an Icelandic vodka that was recommended over Katla and Elduris. Reyka was smooth and tasty - not in the same ballpark as Grey Goose - but at least the same sport. We also got a couple six-packs of Einstok, a pale ale and white ale. Both delicious, although I'm partial to the white ale. Think Hoegarden. For good measure, we picked up some Captain Morgan's, because our doctor buddy, Henry, thought we were preparing for rush at Lambda Lambda Lambda instead of vacationing in Iceland.
|Einstein recommends. #IGotNothing|
|Not to be confused with that bootleg vodka, Javik.|
|Reynisdrangar near Vik. 3 Rock formation. Famous from something.|
|Car probs. Mitty didn't have to deal with this. Oh wait, dude didn't even have a car.|
|Iceberg straight ahead!|
|Filmed some of "Batman Begins" here. I'm paying homage to the League of Shadows.|
His climbing fortitude led to our good fortune. He was apparently clowning around the glaciers one day and stumbled upon a small ice cave. There was about a small 3-foot high parabolic opening off the ground, and this dude thought, let me walk into the darkness and see where it takes me? Glad he did, walking through an ice cave is fascinating. The ice above you is crystal clear. That would be it, though. God knows what the hell you're walking in!
|Drip cup. Drip it up!|
The first glacier we climbed wasn't too tall, maybe around 40-50 feet. It was our training glacier. With crampons on your boots, the key to ice climbing is getting a good foot hold by digging in your front toe spikes, then jab your axes into the ice above you, but not too deep because that takes too many joules to remove. It's like Goldilocks - you have to get it just right, and saving joules is tantamount to successful climbing. Like rock climbing, you should primarily be using your legs, but if you don't get a good foot hold, you end up using your arms, almost like a pull-up, and that gets exhausting quick when you're climbing 100-plus feet. Needless to say, my technique was lacking and my arms ended up decimated.
|Doing my Shawshank prison freedom pose.|
The second glacier we climbed was far more psychologically daunting. Instead of climbing up and rappelling down, we rappelled down a roughly 60-degree angle chasm in the light, that drops into an 80-degree angle in the dark. The drop-off point between the two angles is a trip. The guide suggested us not to rappel to the bottom where there's a little river of melted glacier water. I was tempted, but thought wiser. Good call. That 90-100 foot climb back was draining. I also stopped to take a million selfies, although I don't blame that for the energy drainage.
|So we're going into that black abyss?|
|That climb back is a real b.|
|By no means was this picture taken at an angle. We climbed at 98 degrees. #BigNickLacheyFans|
|That first step is harsh.|
|Oh yeah, so's the climb.|
|Normally not supposed to be spinning around down there.|
|But I got to get my pics in...|
|Blue ice, aka Zoolander's next look.|
|You know how I does...|
|Next time, we take the elevator.|
|Iceland has never been so Asian.|
Next: Iceland's famous nightlife, Arctic surfing, and eating crazy shit.