Closer to the Stars

john snorri icelandic mountaineer

The Savage Mountain When John Snorri Sigurjónsson was 14 years old, he flipped open a magazine and fell in love with a mountain. “From that point onward,” he would later remark, “there was only one mountain in my eyes.” He may have been referring to an article from 1987, which ran under the heading “Suicide […]

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Mountaineer John Snorri’s Marathon K2 Preparation Hike Cut Short

Mountaineer John Snorri Sigurjónsson completed 8 of planned 14 trips up and down Esja mountain, Vísir reports. The ambitious hike is a fundraising venture for his planned trip up K2, the world’s second-highest mountain. John Snorri plans to be the first to top the mountain in winter. He had planned to make the 14 trips in 28 hours, but an injury stopped him short. None the less, 8 trips up and down the Esja mountain in 18 hours is no small feat.

The combined length of the 14 Esja climbs is slightly longer than what John Snorri will have to traverse to climb K2, which is 8,611 metres (28,251 feet) high. He invited friends and supporters to join him for one or more of the 14 hikes. Among his company on the first trip up was Dean Carriere, who climbed Manasla with John Snorri this fall: the world’s eighth-highest peak.

John Snorri plans to start his K2 climb in January. When asked why he was setting out on the challenge, Snorri stated “Because I know I can do it and I want to see the Icelandic flag on the top of K2 in the winter. The first flag in the world, for it to be Icelandic. No one can take that away. It will always be the first flag that stood on K2 in wintertime.” John stopped the hike due to an inflammation in his right knee. “It’s no major issue but since there are only two weeks until I leave for Pakistan I thought it was sensible to not risk any further injuries. These sprints up and down the Esjan were mainly thought as both practice and for fundraising, but not to jeopardize the project,” John said in an announcement.

John’s K2 trip is expected to cost between ISK 22-24 million ($180,000-196,000/€161,000-176,000). Locals who would like to support the journey can make a bank transfer to the account 549-26-52, kennitala (social security number) 200673-5499.


Esjan is 914 metres high, looking over Reykjavík 10 kilometres from the north. It is a popular pastime to climb the mountain in both summer and wintertime. Esjan is a volcanic range of mountains rather than a single mountain, but is still spoken of as one mountain. John Snorri climbed up towards Steinn rock in the Esjan mountain, which is approximately a 6.6 kilometre hike from the starting point as well a climb of 597 metres.

Three Icelanders Summit Everest

Bjarni Ármannsson, Leif­ur Örn Svavars­son, and Lýður Guðmunds­son reached the top of Nepal’s Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, on Thursday. reports that Bjarni arrived in the morning, while the other two Icelanders arrived in the evening. As of today, then, nine Icelanders have now accomplished this feat.

This is the second time that Leif­ur Örn has summited Everest. He previously did so in 2013, when he took the North Route to the top of the mountain, which is considered more difficult. He is the only Icelander to have ever completed that route and is also the only Icelander to have ever climbed the mountain twice.

Lýður is the third Icelander to complete what is known as the Adventure Grand Slam, which involves the climber reaching the top of the highest mountain on every continent, as well as reaching the North and South Poles. Only two other Icelanders have completed the Grand Slam: Lýður’s Everest-summiting comrade Leifur Örn, and Haraldur Örn Ólafsson.

Bjarni is the former CEO of Glitnir Bank and the current CEO of Iceland Seafood.

A picture showing the summit at the time of Bjarni’s arrival was published on the Facebook page Mount Everest 8848M. “Mt Everest witnessed a traffic jam near the balcony area after more than 200 climbers attempted to reach the summit point this morning,” read the caption.

Björn Ólafsson, Einar K. Stefánsson, and Hallgrímur Magnússon became the first Icelanders to reach the top of Mt. Everest on May 21, 1997. After that, Haraldur Örn Ólafsson reached the summit on May 16, 2002. Ingólfur Geir Gissurarson reached the peak on May 21, 2013 at the age of fifty; Leifur Örn Svavarsson reached the summit (his first time) two days later. Vilborg Arna Gissurardóttir became the first Icelandic woman to summit Everest on May 21, 2017.

Icelandic Mountaineers Cremated in Nepal

Mount Pumori

Nepalese authorities have confirmed that the remains of Icelandic mountaineers Kristinn Rúnarsson and Þorsteinn Guðjónsson, who perished on Mount Pumori over 30 years ago, have been found. Vísir reports that their bodies were cremated yesterday in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.

Leifur Örn Svavarsson, of Icelandic Mountain Guides, recovered the bodies along with a group of local climbers and transported them to Kathmandu last Sunday. The remains were then handed over to relatives of the deceased and cremated yesterday in the Nepalese capital. The two mountaineers’ relations are expected to return to Iceland with the ashes next weekend.

Kristinn and Þorsteinn’s relatives expressed thanks to all parties who had assisted in the finding and recovery of the remains and for the kindness and well-wishes they had received.

Kristinn and Þorsteinn died on Mount Pumori in the Himalayas just over 30 years ago. They were last seen on October 18, 1988, around a height of 6,600 metres (21,650ft) on the mountain’s slopes. Their bodies were found by an American climber earlier this month.

In Nepal to Retrieve Fallen Icelanders’ Remains

Mount Pumori

Icelandic mountaineer Leifur Örn Sveinsson is now on the slopes of Mount Pumori in the Himalayas. He is on a mission to retrieve the bodies of Kristinn Rúnarsson and Þorsteinn Guðjónsson, who died on an expedition on the mountain over 30 years ago, reports.

Kristinn and Þorsteinn were last seen on October 18, 1988, around a height of 6,600 metres on the mountain’s slopes. Their bodies were discovered recently by an American climber who came across them and determined by their identification that they were Icelanders.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the National Police Commissioner have assisted Icelandic Mountain Guides in organising the operations. Leifur Örn volunteered to travel to Nepal and attempt to retrieve the two bodies from the mountain. According to a statement from the deceased men’s relatives, the location of the bodies is considered fairly accessible so the operation should not put Leifur and others who may help him with the task in danger.

It could take a long time before Kristinn’s and Þorsteinn’s remains make it to Iceland, however, as transfer permits are needed from all countries they will be transported through.

Icelanders’ Remains Found in Nepal After 30 Years

Mount Pumori

The bodies of two Icelandic mountaineers who died on an expedition in Nepal in 1988 have been discovered, reports. Kristinn Rúnarsson and Þorsteinn Guðjónsson died on an expedition up Mount Pumori, 7,161m (23, 494ft), in October of 1988. The two climbers were 27 years old.

An American mountaineer came across the two bodies recently, discovering their nationality when he searched for their ID. “This is good and difficult news,” stated Anna Lára Friðriksdóttir, a friend of the deceased. She says the families of the two men held a memorial for them on November 26, 1988. “It would have been good for the parents to get to bury their children. It’s like when you lose someone at sea, there was just a memorial then[…]now it’s possible to close the case and that’s very good for their relatives.”

The expedition

Kristinn and Þorsteinn set off from London on September 17, 1988 to climb Mount Pumori. They were accompanied by Icelander Jón Geirsson and Stephen Aistrope, from Scotland. On October 2-3, the group set up base camp on Pumori around an elevation of 5,000m. On October 15, Jón left the expedition due to lung abscess. On October 17, Kristinn and Þorsteinn began their ascent from the base camp. Steve, who had come down with stomach flu, stayed behind. On October 18, Steve saw Kristinn and Þorsteinn through binoculars around an elevation of 6,600-6,700m before they disappeared from sight.

“They were good guys and great companions,” Jón said of the deceased in a recent interview. “They were ‘original’ and wanted to wear traditional Icelandic sweaters rather than the modern gear that most other people climbed in.” While reports of the young men’s disappearance in 1988 assumed they had died on their way up the mountain, Jón says it’s possible the two had reached the peak and were in fact on their way down. A climber from an Australian expedition reported seeing the two very close to the peak.

Ari Gunnarsson is the only Icelander known to have reached the peak of Pumori. He died on his descent in 1991 and his body has never been found.