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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeLeisure and Nature‘I love the panoramic vistas’

‘I love the panoramic vistas’

Pól Sundskarð, of Pol.fo fame, went through a terrible ordeal in October last year. Having hiked on practically every mountain in the Faroe Islands over the years and literally climbed every peak here, Sund­skarð all of sudden was struck by disaster—he slipped and fell from below Snæfelli near his home town Klaksvík and suffered serious injuries including a broken back.

“I felt I was dying,” he recalled months later. “Luckily the emergency services picked me up before long and brought me by helicopter to intensive care, where doctors and nurses worked on me for many hours. I woke up days later at the hospital and I felt so grateful for being alive.” 

Having gone through surgeries and long medical treatment and still in a rehabilitation program, Sundskarð is able to walk again after some seven months. 

“It’s one day at the time,” he told us. “After the accident, it took six months before I was able to put on my socks by myself, ever so slowly. Now that was in April and of course it represented a milestone. So I’m making progress and I attend exercises three times a week at the local hospital in Klaksvík as well as walking. Still I’m not able to walk in the mountains.”

340 mountains

We drove up the mountain Klakkur to enjoy the view over Klaksvík immediately to the east and Leirvík on Eysturoy to the west a bit further away.

“I love the panoramic vistas the Faroese mountains offer in good visibility,” he noted. 

Absolutely. 

His hiking business, still active and accessible via the Pol.fo website, continues to offer guided tours, for now with replacement guides. Featuring a wealth of stunning photos of the most amazing views from mountains all around the Faroes, the website in itself gives plentiful evidence of countless trips to the peaks.

“We’ll see what happens,” Sundskarð said. “In theory I might return to the job one day but for the time being, it’s taken care of by trusted guides who are highly capable and experienced.”

Out of the Faroe Islands’ 340 mountains, the highest one, Slættaratindur, hovers 880 meters above sea level, while the lowest one, Høganes, peaks at just 115 meters. Very few people, if any, have summited the entire range of all of these mountains to the extent that Sundskarð has. 

New priorities

An outstanding athlete, having completed many marathons, and a great footballer as well as a table tennis and badminton player in his younger days, Sundskarð always had a passion for using his feet to move around. 

His back injury may not have quenched that passion, although priorities undeniably have changed.

“It used to be like, when me and my wife would take a walk, I’d tend to be a little impatient, often asking her to hurry up. Today she’s the coach and fortunately she’s not impatient; so I’m in good hands. I still love the mountains, even though it’s uncertain whether I’ll be able to walk there again.”

From a cave on the mountain Toftaknúkur on Borðoy — a view over Hvannasund, the narrow strait between the islands Borðoy and Kunoy, with villages Hvannasund and Norðdepil on each respective end of the dam. Image credits: Pól Sundskarð.

One of Sundskarð’s current projects, meanwhile, is to have a book published on the subject of Faroese mountains.

“I’m working with a publisher and I’ve got loads of photos from my countless outings, covering all of the islands. I’m also collaborating with a pair of good writers and hopefully the book will be of value for as many as possible.”

He added: “I’ve met so many people with great local knowledge of the Faroese mountain terrains. Knowing the terrain is extremely important for anyone hiking in the mountains, especially for the inexperienced, who are well advised to be accompanied by a local guide. Even with my extensive experience, I was given a tough lesson on that day in October 2021. In any case, such accidents serve to further underscore the need to remain ever alert and cautious when walking in the mountains.”  

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