Our pirate ship is anchored in the fjord with not another soul around. Yes I said pirate ship. The scene is so idyllic it barely seems real. The beach is covered in seaweed, and the strong scents of saltwater permeate the air. Only a skier knows the feeling- sunburned, windburned, and legs that are really burned, but you couldn’t be happier. The last run was an incredible way to cap a five-star day. One more lap with a smooth skin track, and even smoother turns right to the edge of the beach. Après was calling. But as much as it felt right to call it a day and cheers a beer on the boat, there was still sun shining on a ramp to the west.
Our cast of ten traveled from near and far to meet in Ísafjörður, a quaint Icelandic town home to less than three thousand permanent residents. We’re an eclectic bunch. Jocelyn and Talia are vibrant sisters with roots in Australia. Robert resides in Boston, Marc calls Pennsylvania home, and Imran is a resident of the California Coast. Then there are the pirates, Karyn Stanley and Jillian Raymond. Dave “Happy” Rintala, Andrew Eisenstark, and myself are ski guides that reside in Lake Tahoe, CA rounding out the group. Together we had had traveled from our respective homes to sail and ski in Iceland with the help of Captain “Siggi” Sigurdur Jonsson and his staff guide Magnus Batista aboard the Aurora Arktika.
Iceland has popped up on the radars of many ski travelers in recent years and for good reason. While the main story here is one of ski touring via sailboat in a protected nature reserve that is arguably a pinnacle experience for the human powered backcountry skier, as remote and out there as Iceland is, it’s really not all the difficult to travel to with the hopes of scoring great skiing. Most people look at the tiny island on a map and think it’s going to be one of those difficult, multi-day travel itineraries that end up forcing ski travelers to waste precious days on snow simply getting to their destination. Not true. In fact, of all the ski traveling I’ve ever done, Iceland might be the easiest, most user-friendly locale I have ever visited. My itinerary was simply a flight from Reno to Minneapolis, with a straight shot into the capital city of Reykjavik. Looking around, I saw a flight that went from San Francisco right into Reykjavik with no stops. If you’re traveling from the East Coast it’s even easier.
Read the rest of the feature from Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal here