Photographer and Master Climbers Scale Ice Cliffs of Iceland

Few of us will ever be ice climbers—that rare subsection of extreme athletes who brave cold winds and frigid depths just to climb up a large wall of ice and then climb back down. But if you want to understand the experience, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better video than this one, which really out to be viewed in the highest-possible definition:

The short documentary by SmugMug Films follows photographer Tim Kemple and climbers Klemen Premrl, from Slovenia, and Rahel Schelb, from Switzerland, as they tackle three distinct Icelandic ice features: moulins, an ice cave, and an iceberg.

climbing ice documentary

The moulins involved rappelling down 150-foot cliffs of ice, only to climb back up using only their upper-body strength.

Klemen Premrl ice climber

The ice cave was a unique challenge, wherein they decided to climb across the ice-cave roof, horizontally, instead of up a wall of ice, as is traditional. It’s a far less common feat, and also far more physically demanding.

iceland travel photo

Icebergs are rarer for climbers to actually summit—they’re fragile and unpredictable peaks formed by ages of melting ice. The climbers lucked out in this video with a well-formed and scalable challenge.

adventure sports film

“This idea of adventure—it means different things to different people, I think. But the one common element is this idea that you’re not sure how things are gonna turn out. Having Klem and Rahel tied to one another, picking their way across this vast, frozen lagoon was just one of the many unknowns for us. The one thing we were sure of was that we were all pushing our boundaries in our own way.”

Rahel Schelb ice climber

The 16-minute video is truly breathtaking, with smooth, sweeping panoramas filmed from seemingly impossible angles.

aurora borealis photography

ice climbing documentary

smugmug films

You can see Tim Kemple’s full photo series from the trip here, and his tips for shooting in extreme cold weather here.

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