Kerlingarfjöll - Iceland’s forgotten mountains
Right in the middle of the Icelandic highlands, southwest of the Hofsjökull glacier, lies a small range of volcanic mountains named Kerlingarfjöll. This photo, taken by Frederick Howell around the year 1900 shows a typical Kerlingarfjöll scene of geothermal steam and glacial ice. The mountains used to have a small glacier which was very popular for summer skiing in Iceland. Now most of the glacier has melted away, leaving only about 8km2 of ice and the lifts were removed some 10 years ago. Since then the place has been somewhat forgotten. Still, the people that used to run the small ski resort, now offer hiking trips and a place to stay.
“Fjöll” means mountains and “kerling” means old lady (in a rather negative sense). Thus the name means Old Lady Mountains or Troll Lady Mountains. The name of the range comes from a 25 meter high volcanic tuff tower, which used to be a troll. As everybody knows, if trolls are caught out in daylight, they turn into stone. The area was hardly ever visited before the past century. This was both because it was very remote and because it was thought to be full of trolls or outlaws.
Today it is a wonderful place to visit. I promise you’ll find a lot more mountains, hot springs and boiling rivers than people.