Missing Tourist Died from Exposure on Glacier Skip to content

Missing Tourist Died from Exposure on Glacier

Daniel Markus Hoij, the 25-year-old missing Swedish tourist, died from exposure. His body was found in a narrow crevasse at an altitude of 600 meters on Sólheimajökull, a glacial tongue of Mýrdalsjökull in south Iceland, shortly before noon on Saturday.


From the rescue operation on Sólheimajökull. Photo by Gudbrandur Örn Arnarsson of ICE-SAR.

Hoij contacted the emergency hotline 112 on Wednesday evening and said he was lost but couldn’t specify his location before the battery of his cell phone went dead. A total of 500 volunteers of the search and rescue association ICE-SAR participated in the search, Morgunbladid reports.

“We cannot understand how he climbed so high up on the glacier given the poor equipment he had. Experienced search and rescuers would have difficulty progressing so far up the glacier if they lacked good equipment,” said Hilmar Már Adalsteinsson of the search and rescue team Hjálparsveit skáta in Reykjavík. He was among those who found Hoij’s body in the crevasse.

Judging by the conditions it would have been impossible for Hoij to pull himself out of the crevasse. There was new snow down in the crevasse and it appears that Hoij suffered from hypothermia which led to his death.

Hoij’s parents came to Iceland on Saturday and met with the search mission’s directors yesterday. They explained where his body had been found and how the search mission had been organized.

His family issued a statement yesterday thanking all those who participated in the search. “It was carried out professionally and we couldn’t have asked for more,” the statement reads.

Jónas Gudmundsson, divisional manager of ICE-SAR, said the search mission was similar to the search for two missing German tourists on Svínafellsjökull, a sub-glacier of Vatnajökull in southeast Iceland, in 2007. They were never found.

“Such operations require detailed organization where we follow certain rules and methods,” Gudmundsson described. “Part of it is extensive investigative work and in larger projects there are often three to five search and rescuers working to trace electronic signals. Family and friends can give us potential evidence on where the missing person may have gone and entries on social websites can help.”

A sign on the road that leads to Sólheimajökull advertizes glacier walks and might indicate that such walks are in everyone’s capability. However, at the foot of the glacier a sign warns travelers of its dangers.

“Glaciers are deadly serious and far too often people embark on glacier walks with poor equipment and by themselves,” said Benedikt Bragason at Sólheimakot in Mýrdalur who runs a travel company with his wife, offering ski-doo trips on Mýrdalsjökull.

Managing director of 112 Thórhallur Ólafsson argues that tourists aren’t informed properly about the dangers that lie in traveling in Iceland, especially during the winter.

“One can certainly agree to various aspects of this criticism but the fact is that it is an endless project to guarantee that tourists have enough information,” responded Director of Tourism Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir.

“I encourage everyone who is in contact with tourists to familiarize themselves with and point out the website safetravel.is, which has detailed information on the conditions one can expect when traveling around Iceland in all seasons,” she added.

ICE-SAR has been campaigning for increased safety in glacier travel lately. Maps of crevasses which are updated regularly are available and travelers are asked to leave their itineraries on safetravel.is.

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