Errata: On this page and on the pictures, I have used the name Skardsheidi for point 1041m, which is central on the massif. The 1:300 000 map led me to believe this was correct. Looking at older maps, it may seem as Skardsheidi is the name for the massif, and that point 1041m has no name. Heidarhorn is a named point, and the highest point on the massif. On a few pictures, I have used the term "Heidarhorn southwest ridge". The proper name for this ridge is Skardshyrna.
Skardsheidi massif, and the adjacent Hafnarfjall is found north of Hvalfjordur and south of Borgafjordur/Skorradalsvatn. The nearest town is Borgarnes, but the mountains can be reached within 1-1,5 hours from Reykjavik.
The Skardsheidi massif has a spectacular drop towards the north, and is best accessed from south, east or west. The route on this page is off-trail, and I am not quite sure where the normal routes run. I suspect they come from the west, near Borgarnes. At least, I saw trails in the valley below, coming from that direction. Due to the amazing lack of forest on Iceland, the south approach described here may be just as easy.
In terms of height and primary factor, Skardsheidi massif dominates the area south of the Snćfellsnes and north of the Reykjanes peninsulas.
You will find Iceland maps on the web-sites listed below.
I am trying to obtain rough maps for use on this web page, but the sources I have checked so far demand annual royalty.
Heidarhorn (1054m) has a primary factor of 844m towards the higher Botnsúlur. The saddle is found between Skardsheidi and Dragafell. You do not cross the 200m contours on the high route, and the saddle height is interpolated to 210m. The book "Íslensk Fjöll" by Ari Trausti Gudmundsson and Pétur Thorleifsson states that the Heidarhorn height is 1053m. This is a deviation from the 1:300 000 map.
Skardsheidi (1041m) has a primary factor of 111m towards the higher Heidarhorn. The saddle is found between Skardsheidi and Heidarhorn. You do not cross the 920m contours on the high route, and the saddle height is interpolated to 930m.
My second day on Iceland. Inspired by the nice Esja hike the day before, I went a bit further north this time. I had seen the Skardsheidi mountains from Esja, and from what I could tell in the misty horizon from Esja, it looked like an interesting area.
The weather seemed better than the day before, and I made an early start from Reykjavik. I drove through the underwater tunnel across Hvalfjordur (toll ISK 1000,- for passenger cars per Aug 2004), exited onto road 504. After asking for driving directions, I followed road 504 (gravel) until I saw the "Tunga" trailsign. I parked by a series of cabins near the road end. It wasn't far from the cabins to the rise towards the mountains.
I had no clue about the route, but the old couple I spoke to suggested I should hike from this side. They didn't speak good English, but through the international finger language, they were able to point out the highest mountain. Having had old Norse in the early schooldays didn't help me one bit.
I started out from the cabins 09:45AM and headed straight towards the Skardselv river, as fences gave me no other option. I followed the river into a wide valley and eventually had Skardshyrna up to my left and Tungukambur up to my right. I considered scrambling up Skardshyrna, but I concluded this would not be a trivial task. The valley was easy to follow, and after a little while, I could both see Heidarhorn and Skardsheidi on top of the valley I adjusted my course to the northwest and entered Heidarhorn from the south. I reached the summit 11:45AM. I had started at 80m elevation and done the 5,5Km walk up to 1054m in 2 hours.
The summit was quite ugly, as what I considered to be litter was floating around. I was more impressed with the hilarious drop down to the valley and the Hafnarfjell scenery towards the northwest. I was especially impressed with a beautiful pyramid-shaped mountains near Hafnarfjell, which I assumed was Blákollur. Another mountains - probably named Baudahnúkafjall - was an impressive sight. The side facing Skardsheidi was white, and in big contrast to the neighbour mountains. It looked like a river of white stuff had been pumped out of the mountain and flooded down the mountain side.
After a short stop on Heidarhorn, I continued towards Skardsheidi. The ridge turned gradually more narrow and in order to complete this route, I had to downclimb a short class 4 (YDS) section with some exposure. In order to avoid this section, one has to descend from the high ridge already at the summit. The climb was fun, although I was very careful. I had already become familiar with Icelandic rock quality, and didn't want to fall off with a big rock in my hands.
I tried to follow the high ridge all the way to Skardsheidi summit. Extremely loose rock made me bypass this route and stay on the safe side. I reached Skardsheidi 12:20PM and was impressed by the beautiful Skessuhorn ridge that connected to Skardsheidi. I considered moving on to point 1011m, which was also a ranked peak (primary factor > 100m), but abandoned the idea after a while. There would be enough walking during the week. I took a shortcut down my valley ascent route and was back at the trailhead 13:45PM.
Next stop: Keilir
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