Thor. Iceland

Interview with… Thor Kjartansson

Thor is one of Momentum’s specialist local guides, based in Iceland. With a love for geological wonders and exploring the near-impossible-to-reach attractions in his own backyard, Thor’s expertise, coupled with his passion, leads to truly immersive and unforgettable Icelandic adventures.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a typical Icelander. I love nature and the freedom we have here. I go into the wilderness a lot – it’s my passion in my work and in my life, I do it with my family and it’s what I live for. I’ve travelled all over the world but my best moments are in Iceland. I get the opportunity to visit the local attractions that are difficult to get to. That is my life in a nutshell.

What is your history in the outdoors and how has that led to where you are now?

I am lucky in that I have 30 years’ experience working on rescue missions. I’ve learned a lot of survival techniques and we’ve had to deal with quite serious incidents up on the glaciers and in the mountains. When you go through those difficult things with your buddies, you can use those experiences and the learnings later in life. I get to use them working as a guide, where I lead a lot of activities in Iceland – snow mobiling, dirt biking, heli-hiking, cross-country skiing, caving, camping. And I also work as a location manager with feature films and go on location scouting excursions.

What’s been the highlight of your career?

I don’t like to do things in the way that others do them. So I’ve uncovered places not many know about. It’s led me to work on many features shot here in Iceland and in Norway including several Star Wars movies, Oblivion with Tom Cruise, Noah, Justice League and The Fast and the Furious.

What’s the coolest place that you’ve visited?

I would say my favourite place is the glaciers and the contrast between the geothermal and volcanic activity in the vicinity of them. For example, the eruption in 2014 was spectacular because it was the biggest lava eruption in Iceland in 200 years. I got permission to go and film there and just seeing craters being formed live is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Even volcanic scientists often don’t get the opportunity to witness a volcanic eruption from when it starts.

There’s also a geothermal river up on a glacier, which is a very remote place that’s difficult to get to and still probably the most hidden in Iceland and the most stunning. It’s an unbelievable contrast between thermal and glacial activity, where you can jump into a 40-degree [Celsius] river with waterfalls and pools.

To access it, you have to use a snow mobile and cross the biggest glacier in Europe. That’s the beauty of it – it’s not easy to access.

What does the outdoors mean to you?

The outdoors is something you don’t have a script for. You don’t know what’s going to happen. When I start out on a new exploration, I know I will likely test my limits and probably be out of my comfort zone. That’s what I love most.

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