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Stirling students make global news with stunning image from Iceland expedition

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Will Copestake with Remi-McMurtry
Pictured (L-R) Will Copestake and Remi McMurtry

Adventurous University of Stirling students Remi McMurtry and Will Copestake made headlines around the world after a stunning photo taken during their three month expedition across Iceland last summer made the international press recently.

The most striking image features Remi standing on the top of the pinnacle of the 4,744-foot high Snaefellsjokull volcano during their trek across the country. Snaefellsjokull is Icelandic for 'snow-fells glacier' or 'snow-mountains glacier' and is a 700,000 year old strato volcano with a glacier covering its summit.

The adventurous third year Environmental Science and Outdoor Education students, who also share a flat together in Bridge of Allan, spent 18 months planning the trip. The duo faced a number of challenges during their expedition including breaking one of their tents - as a result they had to share a one-man tent for the rest of the trip.

Remi added: “It was pretty tough at times but we saw some spectacular sights. One day we trekked across a black, rocky, cold, dry desert which I can only describe as being like Mordor in Lord of the Rings. It was very bleak and depressing and then we arrived at the Asbyrgi canyon and it looked like paradise – there was a huge waterfall with lush green and blue springs. It was such as dramatic change from the desolation of what had gone before.”

The 21-year-old explorers spent 11 days apart from civilisation at the longest stretch of their trip which was made tougher by wet and windy conditions and the coldest June in Iceland for 59 years.

Will said: “At times we were soaked though but we managed to stay positive throughout it. There was volcanic ash in everything we owned and the routine of the daily tasks became tough after a few weeks.”

The duo cited their University course as good preparation for the expedition and they were able to put some of their coursework, such as navigation, into action.

Remi said: “The course is really good fun and we gain a broad knowledge in skills such as bush craft, climbing, first aid and client care. It gives us the confidence in our own ability and a good grounding in the safety and preparation needed when tackling a variety of outdoor experiences. Technically you could say the Iceland trip was homework!”

Both students are already planning their next trips with Will hoping to sea-kayak around Scotland and tackle the countries Munros, and Remi planning on cycling across the Pyrenees.

Will's videos of the expedition can be found at http://vimeo.com/willcopestake and you can follow his adventures at www.whereswillgone.wordpress.com.

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