Adventure drives us to many lengths. My favorite is the length of miles it takes to get to your destination. Going on the journey is the adventure. For those of us with easy access to Denver International Airport we have the benefit of direct flights to Reykjavik, Iceland. This makes for a very easy trip of about 7 hours. With the time change and the evening flight, you can sleep on the plane and then ski the next morning in the mountains around Reykjavik. This zone doesn’t offer the best skiing but it’s close to the airport. You have to maximize opportunities when traveling.
The author skinning up from Olafsfjordur (photo by Allison Seymour)
The better Iceland ski touring is found at various points along the ring road of the island. The Northwest Fjordur, basing out of Isafjordur, is one of those locations. Also, the North Fjordur, with bases in Akueyri, Siglufjordur or Dalvik, offers many ski touring options, along with heli skiing from multiple providers; Akueyri even has a decent ski area. The East Fjordur with a base out of Eskifjordur provides the goods as well.
Flying with Eleven Guides Heli Skiing
Most of the fjordur skiing involves 2,000 to 4,000 foot lines. Glaciers aren’t really an issue here but many lines end in cliffs at the sea so be prepared with ropes and protection. There are also many mellow lines to go along with steep technical faces and couloirs. On the south side of the island you have the highest summit, Hvannadalshnúkur, at 6,923 feet. This heavily glaciated peak is host to the largest glacier in Europe. Glacier gear and experience are requisites here. There are plenty of certified guide services available for going after this peak. You can contact them at the Vatnajökull National Park headquarters. A few offer guided ski ascents.
Mývatn thermal spaWhen relaxing after a hard day in the hills try the plokkfiskur, a hearty fish gratin. Wash it down with the local Brennevin, and enjoy the many hot springs on this gorgeous volcanic island. Soak in the Viking history and have fun trying to pronounce the language of Thor.
“We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow...”- Led Zeppelin These kind people love their island and I do too. Go and see for yourself. Here are a few more photos to whet your appetite ...
Viking graffiti in Eskifjordur
Ripping buttery turns
The northern lights from the lighthouse north of Siglufjordur
Black beach in Vik
Allison Seymour skis Myriam’s Gully on Skeiðsfjall 950mFritz Sperry is a veteran ski mountaineer based in Colorado. He's authored two guidebooks, Making Turns in Colorado's Front Range and Making Turns in the Tenmile/ Mosquito Range, and blogs at MakingTurns.com.