Iceland; skitouring in the fjords

posted in: Trip reports | 0

I’m a big Warren Miller fan and in his movie “Children of winter” there is a segment of sailboat skiing in the Northwestern part of Iceland. One of his famous sayings is “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do” and so I went!

Icelandair flies directly from Amsterdam to Reykjavik and because April is still low season for Icelandic standards it was pretty easy for me to get there. I started with a long weekend in the capital before flying to Isafjordur, the starting point of the skitrip. After the skitrip I would spend a couple of days in the remote area because of “Aldrei fór ég suður”, the biggest music festival of Iceland.

Reykjavik only has 200.000 inhabitants so it’s really small for a capital. I stayed in the Reykjavik Backpackers where I met Ryan, an Ozzie traveling around Europe for about seven months. Together we explored the city. The city has a very friendly and a bit alternative feel to it. Icelanders seem to be very open people. They’re always up for some fun which can be noticed especially on Friday and Saturdaynights. Although small the city comes alive in the weekends. They certainly know how to party. The backpackers offered free pubcrawls which most of the time end early morning after some dancing in one of the nightclubs.

Walking downtown soon you’ll notice the beautiful graffiti paintings. There is even a whole area with several paintings together, pretty impressive. Besides graffiti there’s not that much to see in Iceland’s capital although it’s still fun to be there for a couple of days. From Reykjavik you can visit great sights just outside the city, the most popular ones probably beeing Gullfoss and Geysir.

The weekend was over and I left Reykjavik to go skiing. Once in Isafjordur Runar, the skiguide, picked me up. I was there together with 7 other people to go skitouring from a sailing boat. However, the sailing boat had broken down on a previous trip so we got an alternative trip. We went to a remote hut instead from where we would ski the same runs as we would have done from the sailing boat but this time by watertaxi.

The hut was very primitive and there was absolutely nobody around, we were all by ourselves and that added to the experience. The guides Haukur and Runar provided some great food and every night we had great conversations accompanied by some drinks. Because of long daylight we were not in a rush at all. Where you normally start around 8 am or earlier, here a start at 10 am was an early one.

Every day the watertaxi picked us up and transported us to ‘the fjord of the day’. Weather was not really cooperating this time as it was windy, snowy and raining all together almost every single minute. The views Iceland is famous for could not really be seen. Some days we did one run, some days two. Ofcourse we had to earn our turns by skinning up so sometimes the number of runs was determined by the shape you were in. One morning we had great snow combined with blue skies so we made the most of it…

At the end of five days of skiing we were exhausted but made new friendships. Time had come to pack our bags again to go back to Isafjordur, back to society…

All other clients left and flew back home but I stayed in Isafjordur for a couple of days. I wanted to visit the music festival and possibly go skiing for another day.

Isafjordur is a quiet little town with just a couple of inhabitants. Every Easter however the town explodes because of the music festival Aldrei fór ég suður. People from all over the country come over to witness this alternative music festival, the biggest one Iceland has to offer. The festival consists of two days. The first day is more of a local reunion where highschool bands come together 30 or 40 years later. You need a lot of beer to enjoy this…

The second day however is slightly more serious. According to my Swiss skipartner earlier that week, who visited music festivals all over the place, I had to see FM Belfast. That night they performed their hit “I don’t want to sleep either”…

Once the music festival was over the town of Isafjordur got reduced to its normal size. The streets were empty again. On a beautiful bright day I went for a final ski before heading back home. The local skiresort of Isafjordur had some troubles with the liftsystem so I, together with some local kids, got a ride with the cat. The top-lift (there are 3 lifts in total) was still working and so I skied a couple of laps. Then I met Runar, the skiguide, who informed me about a nice skitour. I started skinning immediately and reached the top of the hill approximately one hour later from where I had amazing views 360 degrees!

From the top I could ski down a pretty steep face to the other side, towards Sudureyri. On this weekday it was really quiet so I had Isafjordur’s backyard all to myself. Once I skied down to the fjord I waited for 10 minutes alongside the road to catch a ride back to my hotel, a perfect end to another great trip!

Click here to see more pictures of my trip to Iceland!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *