This is a bleak, primordial landscape, not easy to get to given its remoteness. To the north of the caldera lies the vast and barren expanse of the lava field Ódáðahraun which translates to “Lava of Ominous Deeds.” As part of the training for the Apollo programme, NASA dispatched its astronauts to this area, and I suspect that it was here in Askja that Buzz Aldrin had his first brush with “magnificent desolation.”
My wife and I, along with my dear friend and guide Börkur Hrólfsson, made a day long expedition to Askja in the summer of 2012. I had intended it as a preliminary get-acquainted-with-the-lay-of-the-land foray. But with Börkur there are no half measures. Testing the limits of stamina and human endurance, he pulled off a marathon session ploughing non-stop for 18 hours through this difficult terrain; it was one hell of an introduction to Askja. As the images suggest, this area is an overflowing treasure trove of photographic gems.
Aside: this is the first post featuring images processed on my new toy.
The explosion craters Viti (lit. hell) and its larger sibling Öskjuvatn (lit. Askja lake) were formed in an eruption in 1875. In 1907 two German scientists vanished in Öskjuvatn and their case remains unresolved to this day.
In the image below, the dots in the centre of the lake are Icelanders enjoying a dip in the mineral-rich tepid waters of Viti.