My great grandfather, the Explorer

December 06, 2015  •  2 Comments

Páll Jökull_2015-08-09 14.48.13Páll JökullMy great grandfather was a tour-guide and an explorer.

My great grandfather, the Explorer

Páll Jökull PálssonPáll Jökull PálssonA drawing of Páll Jökull Pálsson made from an old photograph.

 

In the summer of 1875, one thousand years from the settlement of Iceland, my Great grandfather Páll Jökull Pálsson traveled across the Vatnajökull glacier as a guide in an expedition with William Lord Watts, an English mineralogist and geologist and an adventurer with four other Icelanders. The expedition started from the farm Núpsstaður in the summer of 1875, when the distance of more than 60 km was covered in 12 days, walking up the glacier Síðujökull and going down north of Dyngjujökull near Kistufell in North Iceland.

Páll with Watts and two others from the same district had discovered a nunatak in the glacier the year before, but then they had to turn away because of bad weather and shortage of food. Watts named the nunatak Pálsfjall (Pauls-Mountain) after his fellow member of the expedition, who was allways called "Páll Jökull" (Glacier-Paul) after that. 

Pálsfjall mountainPálsfjallPálsfjall mountain in Vatnajökull glacier.

This expedition turned out to be a difficult task as can be imagined with the accessories and gear that was available 140 years ago. On this journey they had to pull a heavy sleigh across the glacier with the supplies and food for this difficult trip. They saw the Grímsvötn volcano area in Vatnajökull, which had erupted just three years before and witnessed an eruption in Volcano Askja, north of the glacier and some volcanic eruption on the highlands south of Lake Mývatn. 

Norður yfir Vatnajökul 1875Norður yfir VatnajökulThe book, Norður yfir Vatnajökul 1875. After returning home to England, William Lord Watts wrote a book about the expedition "Across The Vatna jökull" which was translated to Icelandic as "Norður yfir Vatnajökul 1875". After that Watts moved away from the UK to USA and worked for several years as a geologist in California, assisting with oil wells and other mineral minings. Watts died on a boat sailing to Trinidad on 2 January 1921. The names of the five Icelanders who went on this expedition are: Páll Jökull Pálsson, Kristófer Þorvarðarson, Olgeir Þorsteinsson, Eyjólfur Bjarnason and Sigurfinnur Ketilsson. They were all young men, from 21-28 years of age. Páll Jökull was born August 17th 1848 and died June 21st 1912 at 64 years of age.

 

I am proud to bear my great grandfathers name, as we are both tour-guides in our time.

The english version of the book | Amazon


Comments

Anna(non-registered)
Watt's book is in the public domain: https://archive.org/details/acrossvatnajkul01wattgoog
Alex(non-registered)
Hi,
My name is Alex Bellini and I am going to ski across Vatnajokull in the next week.
Today a geologist told me the story of this first expedition across the glacier and I was wondering if you are willing to have a chat about it over a coffee. I am in Iceland, I wonder whether you are here or back in the U.K.
Thanks.
Alex Bellini
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