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The Mountains Keep Tugging At Me

Pól Sundskarð, the ironman from Klaksvík, has been to the summit of all 340 mountains in the Faroe Islands. This hard-core hiker, who thinks a marathon is far too short, has run the 72-kilometre stretch from Klaksvík to Tórshavn ten times. And a few years ago he ran from Athens to Sparta, a distance of 246 km in under 36 hours.

Pól Sundskarð’s countless hikes up Faroese mountains have taught him a great deal and he has distilled is wealth of experience and expertise into his own website called www.hiking.fo.

Hiking.fo is the result of Pól’s great passion for exploring the Faroese mountains and nature. Several years ago he began documenting his trips and it occurred to him that it would be a great idea to make a website with trails and instructions for hiking in the Faroes.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into making a website like this. The hardest part is making sure the hiking trails are 100% accurate. Double-checking everything so that the right trail goes on the website, not a more hazardous trip that might look similar,” says the avid hiker who knows every nook and cranny of the Faroese outdoors.

Pól’s wife, Bjørg, also plays a big part in the website’s success. She administrates it, uploads photos and often joins Pól on trips that need to be assessed. He says she has the most realistic assessments when it comes to a trail’s degree of difficulty.

One thing we are seeing more of on the website are the more extreme trips, for example, a hike up Kunoyarnakki, which includes a packed lunch and Pól as the guide. People can contact Pól to request any type of hike they would like and he will put a trip together for them.

But extreme can also mean dangerous. “In some places I’ll be crawling on all fours. And I can get scared at times when I’m on my own because I just cannot have anything go wrong,” he says in a serious voice. “I once sprained my ankle on a hike and had to walk several kilometres on my injured foot. Once I thought I had reached the end of my life when I slid 150 metres down an icy slope. Thankfully a rock stopped me from sliding off completely. I sure learned a lot after that, especially the importance of checking weather conditions before setting off.” Today Pól always takes his phone with him, at least two GPS devices, extra batteries and a charger.

There are currently around 200 trails on hiking.fo. The goal is to give people the opportunity to experience something new and extraordinary. The couple is now working on filming with a 360-degree camera, which will make it possible to experience a hike right from the comfort of your own home, wearing special glasses that allow you to see things from all angles. “So I’ll have to do another “Tour de Faroes” where I hike up every summit,” Pól says. And you can tell by his smile that he’s looking forward to saying hello to those 340 mountaintops again.

Written by: Óluva Zachariasen
Image credits: FT.fo
Originally published in: Atlantic Review (2016)


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