The Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter was called out shortly after noon yesterday to pick up a British hiking team in Emstrur, between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk, Vísir reports. What drew attention was that this is the third time rescue teams have been called out to assist the same group of men. Their expedition is called The Coldest Crossing and their plan was to ski across the country, via the highlands, unassisted, in December. Originally there were four in the group, aged 19-20.
The team left off from Riftangi, Melrakkaslétta, Northeast Iceland, on December 3. The plan was to ski across the highlands and complete the trip in Vík í Mýrdal, South Iceland. The first time they called for help, they needed assistance because one of the team members had fallen ill and had to abandon the expedition. Rescue workers helped them turn around and reach Kópasker, a town in the northeast. The other three decided to continue their expedition, this time from Akureyri. This happened at the beginning of December, when severe weather passed over the country.
The second call came from the middle of the highlands, when one of the men had suffered frostbite on his toes. A rescue team from Hella came to their assistance.
Yesterday, the group contacted the Coast Guard for advice, given the difficult situation they were in. Due to the severe weather forecast in the area, it was decided that the helicopter pick them up in Emstrur. According to Hvolsvöllur Police, the men were very wet and cold once they were reached, but aside from the three hikers, two US film makers were in the group, a man and a woman.
The hikers were very grateful to the Coast Guard and rescue workers and glad to be alive. They said Iceland is a “crazy place” when it comes to weather.
The hikers’ rescues have led some politicians to call for mandatory insurance for foreign travelers to cover the cost of rescue missions. Rescue teams are made up of volunteers and their rescue missions are becoming ever more frequent and costly.