Generally speaking, the Faroe Islands consist mainly of mountains and the ocean. From the air they look like the tips of the Alps sticking out of the Atlantic. Today, we’re going to get the top of Slaettaratindur.
When we leave the house, a slight haze is shrouding the top, and the sheep standing by the road look at us with slightly mocking eyes, as for daredevils who do not know what they are doing. In the end, in the Scandinavian mountains league, which have names difficult to pronounce, Slaettaratindur is quite high, right next to the famous Icelandic volcano Eyafjallajökull. At least it seems to me, before I hear the name of the highest summit, in the way the Farers say. And it sounds quite normal for me – “Zlatatindur”. The mountain rises on the island of Eysturoy and grows 882 meters above the sea level.
Thanks God that Sabina – the owner of Fjord Cottage, a Polish-Faroese guest house, in which we have stayed – is going with us, because I would miss the beginning of the Slaettaratindur route. At this time, it is completely empty, and you have to park your car on a small patch of trodden grass, roughly halfway between the villages of Ei∂i and Gjógv (Farers would say “Eji” and “Dziokw”). There is not a single sign here, but the place is characteristic. On one side we have three huge peaks, which – it seems – reach the sky. On the other side is a fence, over which a ladder is thrown and an almost invisible path slowly climbs towards the nearby rocks. It can be confusing, because – as you probably guessed – the route to the highest peak of the Faroe Islands, is this almost invisible path, and the three “giants” on the other side of the asphalt, however, are lower than Slaettaratindur.
Wili and Magda are staying. Our brave four-year-old has still time to get to the tops, which no marked trail leads to, and where it’s easy to slip on the cross-country path. My wife is convinced only by the argument that for centuries the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands avoided Slaettaratindur, because there was a legend that if a young one goes to the top, the elves protecting the golden treasure hidden on the “flat mountain” (this is the meaning of the name Slaettaratindur) will punish him – he will return to the lowlands as an old man, as gray as the dove.
The 69-year-old Farer, who is climbing the Slaettaratindur for the first time in his life, will tell us this story. He simply decided that he had come to an age when he no longer had to be afraid of sudden, unexpected old age.
He shares one more story with us. Apparently, centuries ago, good elves guarded the gold hidden on top of the peak. One time a family of evil elves broke into the top and killed the existing guards of gold. They hid a treasure in a nearby fjord and settled down to look after it – in the village of Funningur. First, however, they went to the capital – Torshavn. And there, in a small red house near the port, they entered the hairdresser. Barber seeing hairy, evil creatures, was petrified with fear. But as a professional, he agreed for the buzzing gold coins, to characterize elves for people. He settled on the chair in turn: grandfather elf, grandmother, father, mother and three evil little elven gnomes. He shaved them, cut off tails and after this operation they did not differ much from people anymore. They could live in Funningur and guard the stolen gold. However, when darkness falls, it can be seen that the elves move like a HUMAN BEEING. And that is why our Farer, after dark, tries to avoid Funningur, and if he has to pass through it, he very carefully looks at the shadows moving along the way …
Listening to such stories, translated from Faroese by Sabina, we quickly gain altitude. However, with every meter, the road gets steeper and more difficult. The gravel give a weak support to the legs, and the slippery mud is the worst possible surface to walk up. One inattentive step and you can roll two-three hundred meters down. When we go to the ridge, it is much better, because under our feet we feel a solid rock. Only twenty meters of climbing and we are on a wide flat peak. Just as the name Slaettaratindur promises.
We are really lucky. The wind dispersed the clouds and we have a fabulous panorama of the Faroe Islands in all its glory. It is only from this height that there are few signs of our civilization. Somewhere there are several houses on the edge of the coast. And the rest is water and mountains. Emptiness and silence. And the whistling wind.
Climbing uphill took us just over an hour. Descent – not much less, because you have to watch twice so that the false step does not end in a painful fall.
After returning, I look in the mirror with anxiety. Well… I have not aged noticeably. And then comes the reflection that when this legend was created, the average life expectancy did not exceed 35 years. Well … In that case I can climb Slaettaratindur even daily. I am safe.