The Debt – Polaroids

From Sunday the 4th of September 2022 until Saturday the 10th I collected a total of 1000 liters of glacial melting water from several small Icelandic rivers. Overnight, this water was frozen solid using an industrial freezer in Reykjavik. The next day, these ice blocks were transported to the foot of the Ok. With a special backpack I transported these blocks to the top, a climb of about 400m. Using an isolation blanket to shield it from the Sun. However, due to the unusual temperatures (7 degrees above the average) the ice already started melting during the ascent. The constant sun, dry winds and lack of shadow took its toll. Adding to the Sisyphean character of the performance. I tried to preserve as much ice as possible, by burying it in the snow and covering it with an isolation blanket. All to no avail.

By the time I was halfway up the volcano, 25% of the ice had already melted. Some of the melting water I drank. The sun, dry winds and unusually high temperatures took its toll. The next day the ice was gone.
To shield my backpack from the Sun, I used an insulation blanket.
I made several of these piles of stones to easily find my way up. Despite the good weather you could easily get disoriented. Something I experienced first hand during the only cloudy and rainy day.


Although the height of the OK is 1141m, the actual climb to the top is about 450m. Starting from the place where I parked the car. The tricky part is the rocky terrain, like a moon landscape.


On the third day, during my first ascent, I saw that the insulation blanket was been blown away during the night. Luckily for me it’s pretty easy to spot. It was stuck between some rocks on the other side of the crater.


Together with some good hiking boots, sporting tape was one of the investments that definitely paid of. After two days there was no more hair on my ankles and feet tho. But it was worth it, since a sprained ankle would be the end of the performance.
My first impression of this place was how quiet it was. No birds, no wind, just pure silence. I had never experienced something like that. Sometimes I could hear cracks from the other glaciers.


Not a single cloud in the sky.
A portrait shot taken by Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove. An excellent nature photographer from Belgium, who moved to Iceland.

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