An Iceland Trip Report by Jillian Raymond
Antarctica, Greenland, and Iceland is an impressive list for travelers and researchers, yet even more impressive for skiers. The one company that can get you there is Ice Axe expeditions and more importantly get you there in style, luxury, and comfort. Ten of us pushed off from the dock in the quaint town of Islaford, Iceland to sail towards the Hornstrandir Natural Reserve in search of skiing and adventure.
As a California skier I often boast that I get to ski the best corn snow close to home, but Iceland, you rocked my corn world. Endless sunshine and gradual warming temps allowed for amazing corn runs all day. Backcountry skiers have the luxury to “see it and ski it”, especially when you are on high adventure ski tours such as the Icelandic fjord trip. The zodiac would drop us gently ashore, and the after a morning’s briefing we would set off to tour and ski the lines that we could see ahead of us. Whether the clients wanted a 6 hour day or 12 hour day, the ski tours took us up and above the col of the fjords and sent us skiing down beautiful mountains of snow to the next fjord where the sailboat was waiting for us.
“Of course we should have the pink bubbles tonight,” Talia shared with glee One of our two Aussie girls with a sailing background educated me on the importance of champagne at the end of a ski day when you are on sailboat- I had zero objection. The comforts of our gorgeous 65 foot sailboat provided space for all of us to store gear and get ready for our adventurous days, plus hang-out and relax with drinks and delicious dinners prepared by our local captain and chef Siggie. It is safe to say our sailboat was the 11th member of the team.
The touring, fjords, champagne, polar plunge, and sailboat were all fantastic but in reality we were there to ski, and ski we did! On the agenda of sail and ski we had multiple peaks and objectives daily. Groups were able to traverse and climb peaks in the distance such as the “elfenhat” or climb and ski the steep chutes and moderate bowls close to home, as well as ski and climb the same perfect aspect for more runs after an already full and awesome day. The weather cooperated, the guides were phenomenal, and the skiers happy and tired each day with wonderful memories of skiing in a polar landscape just 13 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
A trip sandwiched with cultural experiences and immersion in language and landscape is almost too good to be true, but Iceland ski and sail delivers. On arrival and departure there is time for dinners and clubbing in Reykjavik plus options for tourist outings to the blue lagoon, or a full day “get your fanny pack” Golden Circle and Fontana hot springs tour. An island nation that runs predominantly on its geothermal energy, a trip to Iceland is memorable for so many reasons. A take-home point for me as a traveler and skier was the significance of climate change, gradually rising temperatures and the importance of working and playing in harmony with your natural environment and not against it. Plus the smiles and laughter possible when connecting with like-minded travelers when your phone is off– the humor is paramount and the memories are priceless. Unplug and tap-in in style.