Have you ever heard of the game KUBB? It is some kind of a combination of horse shoe and bowling with a hint of chess. Or something like that. Anyway, KUBB is claimed to have been played since the Viking Age (8th- 11th century A.D.). It is quite fun, and many Icelanders play this game throughout the summer while they are camping or traveling. It is often used as a drinking game, for example.
The game takes two teams, ten small wooden blocks (the KUBBS), six wooden sticks, a wooden King, and a 17x33-foot court, marked by pins, to play this game. The goal is to knock down the opponent’s KUBBS with the sticks without hitting the King. When a KUBB is knocked down, it is moved to the other side of the court. If the disadvantaged opponent cannot hit it in its new location, the other team moves closer, making it easier to hit the other KUBBS. The game is finished when all of a team’s KUBBS have been knocked down and the winning team also knocks down the king.
You’ll just have to try it one day.
Like I said earlier, many Icelanders play this game, usually on the grass on campsites or in the backyard of their summer houses. What if I told you that we also played this game on top of a glacier in the Icelandic midnight sun? Well I’m telling you, that’s exactly what we did.
The trip started like always with a specially made 5 oz. grilled burger with homemade garlic mayo and pickled red onions. It’s a secret recipe that we always have available for the group traveling with us. After everyone was full and happy, we marched to one of the glaciers, prepared with proper glacier safety gear, put everyone in crampons, and headed up to the glacier. The skies were blue, the sun was low in the air, and there was no wind—except for the warm gust streaming down the glacier that I have always found very strange. It is a fun experience standing on the glacier and feeling super warm air coming down; I recommend trying that.
After looking into the deep crevasses and stunning moulins (glacier mills) and climbing the steep, icy hills, we finally found a place that was flat enough to put up the KUBB field. As the pins to line up the field did not stick gently into the icecap, we just used ice axes to mark the field. We also needed the ice axes to chop the ice so the wooden blocks could stand. Eventually we set up a fully functional KUBB field and started playing. After we started we just didn’t stop. It was too surreal. Running around in crampons and throwing sticks into wooden blocks in the midnight sun on a glacier was not what I expected when I woke up that morning, but still, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. These kind of unexpected trips happen all the time. It didn’t make the situation worse when we offered the group our customized ice cold ginger gin and tonic with icebergs chopped from the glacier when we came down.
Everything we do is always unique and pretty amazing, but sometimes you have this feeling that it was extra good. That was one of those nights.