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Baula - A collapsing pile of rocks masquerading as a mountain

Pictures are at the bottom...

22 June, 2010

Baula is a pretty big conical mountain, dominating the less hills in Borgarfjörður, above where my father was born. I've wanted to climb it for a few years, after driving past it hundreds of times, and it turns out mum had wanted to climb it ever since she first saw it, but somehow had never found the time. There's a painting on the wall in Australia that even has Baula on it.

So it was time to finally give it a go, and for a midsummer night trip, it seemed as good as any! We had a few other interested parties, but in the end it was just Mum, Helen and I, heading off after work on a Tuesday.

The start of the walk heads along an old road, into quite a pretty little valley, and if we'd had the whole day, we would have made a nice detour up to some pretty waterfalls up the valley a bit, but as it was, it was onwards and upwards.

Helen and Mum followed the road around and up, and I followed a sheep track that cut across and up the ridge, though we met up again at the base of the steep bit. And it is steep. As soon as the vegetation ends, you're standing on a great big pile of rocks. Great big rocks in great big piles. So, you start clambering onwards and upwards, and try not to bring the whole mountain down on top of you.

At one of the steeper sections, Helen decided that this foolishness had gone far enough, and she would wait here for us. Mum and I boldly ventured forwards.

As we got higher, the rocks got smaller, which also meant they were more prone to slippage. With only about 80 vertical meters to go, it was just getting silly. Scrambling up and sliding down, and just generally feeling that one wrong move was going to crush your leg, and bring rocks down on your head. The weather, though generally fine, was pretty grey overhead, so the view wasn't really very pretty, even though we could see a long way.

So we retreated. We thought that it wasn't worth it, and that going down would be even worse.

We should have kept going. The next day we regretted it of course. And going down was actually nowhere near as bad as we'd feared. But down we went. And it was still a good evening out. I won't be rushing back to do the last few meters though :)

Because I went back down the road, the way Mum and Helen had come, I got too see what they called the fiddle sticks. These really were cool. There's a huge swathe of hillside where instead of the regular mishapen lumps of rock, instead we had individual rhyolite columns, all fallen down in crazy piles. Mostly about 20-40cm across, and 1-3m long, and scattered all over the place. Very pretty. I suspect that someone had at some stage been mining these, as the road ends/starts at this point.