We started our trip to Iceland in Munich in March 2020. During the approach to Reykjavik, our noses were sticking to the window of the airplane. The view over the first snow-covered hills reaching all the way down to the shore was incredibly impressive. I could already imagine the first turns in the untouched snow.
Down on the ground, we headed towards the Troll Peninsula, probably the most popular region in Iceland for ski touring and freeriding. The estimated 5-hour-drive should be no problem – at least that’s what we thought. We were driving towards the first breathtaking sunset, full of anticipation for the upcoming days. Around midnight we got stuck in a snowstorm somewhere in the middle of nowhere. With our ski pants on, we went out for the first time, but not for skiing, rather for shoveling. Via some detours, we finally arrived at our cabin in Olafsfjordur at 3 am.
The next day, the world looked completely different. We were welcomed by the sun and a first view of the snow-covered mountains around Olafsfjordur. On the way to the lodge of Arctic Heli Skiing Iceland, our anticipation increased even more and we could hardly keep our feet still. Quickly putting on our touring boots, getting on the helicopter and off we were flying over the sea at high speed, up to the first summit. The helicopter took off and the only thing we heard was the cold wind blowing around us. The view was breathtaking - untracked powder and endless slopes as far as you could see. I could hardly believe it - a feeling of happiness and freedom overcame me, and I was thankful to experience something like this.
We tightened the ski boots - let's go! We made our first turns towards the sea in perfect snow. Shortly before we reached the sea, we stopped right in front of the helicopter, still overwhelmed by the descent. But this was by far not the last ride of the day, we immediately headed towards further summits. Far too early the sun disappeared behind the mountains and we flew back to the lodge - what a day!
Because of the strong winds, back in the valley we had to make use of our shovel skills again as once more we got stuck in the high snowdrifts. Luckily, the pilot’s jeep was off-road capable and could pull us out of the valley. On the way back to our cabin, we stopped at “Kaffihus” in Dalvik. The cozy coffee shop gave us a warm welcome and we felt at home immediately. If you ever think about visiting Dalvik, this is the perfect place to warm up with a hot homemade fish soup after a day in the mountains.
Back in our cabin, we finally got to enjoy our hot tub. With our beanies on, we were sitting in the hot water while enjoying a pint of beer in the snowfall after the day's work. Living the high life!
During the next days, we got a bit unlucky with weather conditions. But it’s easy to keep yourself busy in any weather in Iceland. The crater Hverfjall was our next destination. With only 100 metres, the ascent was not a problem for us. However, we were busy not falling into any of the snow-covered holes created by the hot springs. Unfortunately, we did not find the best snow on Hverfjall, but skitouring through this moonscape and riding a crater was definitely worth the experience.
On the way back, we stopped at the famous Godafoss waterfalls. Not without reason this is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland and definitely worth a visit.
The next morning welcomed us with snow-covered windows and the news that the ring road was closed. We were trapped in Olafsfjordur. After a cozy breakfast, we set off to explore the village with our ski touring equipment. Over the snow-covered roads, we reached the harbor of Olafsfjordur. Due to the storm, the waves spilled over the rocks and the seagulls had a hard time staying up in the air. Another day without perfect snow, but still with a lot of fun doing our groceries. Where else one can walk through the entrance of the supermarket on skis?
The next day the streets were still closed so we tried to make the best out of our time in the Fjords. Building kickers and pulling single turns directly to the sea was a lot of fun despite the bad weather.
New day, new luck ... We could start our ski tour directly from Olafsfjordur. Hardly anywhere else one can enjoy the a ski mountaineering ascent with such beautiful sceneries. Best snow and a great view of numerous couloirs and mountainsides around the fjord, just waiting to be skied. After the last descent, we wistfully packed our stuff and drove back to Reykjavik – this time without any incidents.
Back in Munich, the past week already felt like a dream. Immediately after our return, the first borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and skiing was no longer an option, but I could hardly imagine a better way to end the season than this.
If you are thinking about exploring Iceland on skis, I can warmly recommend it. The people and the fact of being in the mountains and at the same time skiing towards the sea are simply overwhelming.
Pro Tip: Extremely good and enduring shoveling skills, a good pack of patience and spontaneity and enough beer for the hot tub can be very helpful on iceland on snowy days :-)
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Words by | Annika Schlachter
Photos: Michael Neumann / Red-Gun.com & Annika Schlachter
German Freerider and mountain lover Annika Schlachter is a member of the Rab and Lowe Alpine athlete team. She is currently living in Innsbruck/Austria and Allgäu/Germany. For more info on Annika’s activities, head to instagram