Alex Hibbert, right, with team-mates on the icecap in Iceland

Alex Hibbert, right, with team-mates on the icecap in Iceland

A British adventurer has finally made friends with a notorious Icelandic icecap, three years after a near-death experience on the glacier.

Alex Hibbert likened his crossing of Vatnajökull to climbing inside a washing machine on the coldest setting and setting it to maximum spin speed.

The 29-year-old had a previous 2012 attempt at the icecap scuppered by winds blowing to double hurricane speeds.

His recent successful crossing, with a small team of fellow adventurers, was accomplished shortly after Storm Desmond moved from the UK northwards to Iceland.

The Bridgedale outdoor brand ambassador and his team had to endure long days of temperatures down to nearly -30C, fierce winds and low-pressure weather systems that repeatedly roll across Iceland in winter.

Much of the skiing and negotiating the barren volcanic terrain had to be done in the dark as the sun only rose for about six hours per day. Bridgedale provided Hibbert with technical socks, hats and gloves which helped him endure long days of freezing temperature.

The route accessed the icecap from the west and exited to the southern extent of Vatnajökull. It occurred three weeks earlier than the 2012 expedition, adding to the danger and challenge. In Iceland, the conditions improve throughout winter into spring – the earlier, the tougher.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have returned to this beautiful but merciless icecap.

“It doesn’t have the grandiose profile of the Antarctic or Greenlandic ice sheets, but it is world-renowned for its unpredictable and uniquely challenging winter conditions, perhaps the ‘grumpiest icecap on Earth’.

“I liken it to climbing inside a washing machine on the coldest setting, selecting the fastest spin speed and hitting go.

“I worked with a sensible, resilient and professional team and it’s been a pleasure to share the experience with them and successfully put a demon to rest.

“The experience on the ice and media furore after 2012 was difficult, and so to draw a positive line under the project and see it as a springboard to other upcoming polar journeys is beyond satisfying for me.

“I can once again consider this particular icecap a friend.”

Alex Hibbert, James Wheeldon and Brad Jarvis set out from the ring road region surrounding Kirkjubæjarklaustur on 5 January to undertake a winter journey on a variety of terrains, including steep hills, frozen rivers, lava fields but mainly a 151km (94-mile) route over the largest Icelandic icecap itself.

The finish line was as the team re-joined the ring road, not using any vehicular assistance to or from it.