The Icelandic Police and the Icelandic Search and Rescue Association (ICE-SAR) are organizing a search because of new evidence which might be related to the disappearance of two German tourists in August 2007.
Climbers on their way up to Hvannadalshnjúkur. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Mid-last week two members of the Icelandic Alpine Club climbed a very unfrequented route on the western slope of Mt. Hvannadalshnjúkur on Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland’s highest peak, Fréttabladid reports.
On the way they noticed a climbing rope propped between rocks. It is believed that the rope may have been left behind by the missing tourists. This route is very dangerous and impassable except in autumn.
Björgvin Hilmarsson, one of the climbers who discovered the rope, said only one other Icelander is known to have climbed a similar route and it isn’t his rope. The rope isn’t especially weathered so it cannot be many years old.
Hilmarsson said it is closely recorded who is traveling on new climbing routes. “This climbing society is very small and no one recognized having been there before.”
He added that in addition to being dangerous, it is difficult to reach the starting point of the climb. “We started at six on Wednesday morning and walked for seven hours to get to the location.”
Hilmarsson and his partner estimated the circumstances such that they couldn’t investigate the situation further but notified the police.
Einar Sigurjónsson, a police officer at Höfn, confirmed that the matter is being looked into with ICE-SAR. However, he stressed that nothing can be proven at this point; it is not at all certain that the rope belonged to the missing German tourists.
Sigurjónsson said it has snowed constantly on the glacier since last weekend and the conditions aren’t suitable for launching a search at the moment, in fact, it may not be possible to search the area until late summer next year.
“A harsh winter has hit there and the circumstances are difficult. People don’t just jump up there for the sake of it,” Sigurjónsson said, yet iterated that the matter is being looked into in all seriousness.
Matthias Hinz and Thomas Grundt went missing on August 17, 2007. According to their travel schedule, they planned to travel from Reykjavík to Vatnajökull on July 29 or 30 and return from that tour on August 12.
When they failed to board the plane on which they had booked their return tickets to Germany on August 17, they were reported missing.
An extensive search was launched for the two Germans. A Coast Guard airplane, around 40 search and rescue team members and a track-dog participated in the search.
On August 23 their tents were found on Svínafellsjökull, a Vatnajökull glacial tongue, but no other trace of the missing tourists was discovered.
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