An Icelandic skiing saga
Blue skies, screeching seagulls, crystal clear blue waters and dolphins jumping out of the water next to our boat; for a fleeting moment I wonder if I’m in the Caribbean. When I look up from the water, reality hits me: dozens of sharp white peaks rise from the fjord like triangular pyramids, in stark contrast with the clear blue sky. I am on a fishing boat in Iceland, an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, crossing a fjord to go skiing and the closest land is Greenland, another 200 kilometres west from here.
We’re in the safe hands of our experienced German guide Bernd Adler. According to him, we are some of the very few skiers who are about to ski on the other and uninhabited side of the Eyjafjordur, near the fishing village of Dalvik. “After staring at these peaks during my first trip to Iceland, I knew we could ski them. So I asked around if anyone in the small harbour of Dalvik, population 1400, would be willing to take us across. We found a beach to go on land and have been bringing guests here ever since. Years later, we are still the only guides who take our guests here”, he says with a big grin across his face. This sense of adventure is exactly why we wanted to ski with Bernd, Flory Kern – Ski Berge Abenteuer‘s lead guide.
Every day Bernd plans a new treat for us, like a ski traverse from one side of the fjord, via 2 summits, to the other side.
In the northwest of Iceland, over five hours by car from Reykjavík, lies the Troll Peninsula, the place to be for skiing in Iceland. Iceland’s mountains may seem small, but the alpine terrain is limitless and sublime, and the sea itself is right there at your feet; even into May you can often ski down to the shoreline. The maritime moisture, dark winters (the Arctic Circle is a few miles north) make for a stable, spring snowpack. Sometimes you get fresh powder, but in April and May—the heart of the ski-touring season—you are more likely to find corn of the rare kind that doesn’t quickly turn to slop.
It has been nearly two hours since we left the harbour of Dalvik and the rocky beach of the inhabited side of the fjord is getting closer and closer.
In groups of six we carefully climb into the dingy and load our ski’s on-board. Perched just above the freezing water, we cruise the last meters across the icy fjord until set foot on land. Just meters from the beach we attach our skins and begin our journey to the summit, 900 meters higher. As there are hardly any lifts in Iceland, you earn your turns! This suits us just fine, as skinning up we fully experience the magical surroundings.
Arriving at an unpronounceable summit a few hours later, we are treated to a breath-taking view of two fjords and the open sea. We can see the waves rolling in and breaking on the beach and in the distance we see the Icelandic horses, which are notoriously small and pony-like and outnumber the 332,529 inhabitants. Iceland is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, with an average of about three inhabitants per square kilometre.
We point our skis towards the fjord — which is now golden due to the bright sun — and cruise down towards the shimmering water. The mountain seems to end right in the ocean and our 20-minute run is worth every second of the five-hour climb. During that time I am the happiest person on earth; skiing towards the sea truly is a special experience and our adventure doesn’t end here.
Our German friends have secretly hidden bottles of rum, wine and beer in the dingy, as well as sausages, coals and a small speaker on the beach. Within minutes German après-ski music is blasting, we are grilling sausages and toast to an unforgettable week, Prost!
Flory Kern – Ski Berge Abenteuer offer all sorts of trips, from heli-skiing in Georgia, skiing powder in Japan, to ski touring in Spitsbergen or Iceland. Find more info here: http://www.flory-kern.de
We stayed at the Husabakki Guesthouse, a comfortable hotel with ridiculously delicious fresh home cooked meals, located just 5 kilometres outside Dalvik.