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Skiing in Iceland: Powder at Last

Skiing in Iceland: Powder at Last

[ April 20, 2010 - 10:56am ]
Iceland Powder
After the erupting volcano, the muddy, impassable roads, and the pouring rain and avalanched couloir, finally, there is the powder. Several days into our ski-touring trip to Iceland, we are rewarded with sunshine and soft snow.

We wake up in our farmhouse—a guest house with 15 bunkbeds, a stone and wood kitchen table, and no shower—and at long last, there are blue skies. We’ve survived the erupting volcano. We’ve survived the muddy roads that were undriveable. We survived sleeting rain and an avalanche. Finally, we get to enjoy ourselves.

Our guide Leifur from Icelandic Mountain Guides has selected a zone for us near the town of Dalvík. An approach over rock and grass leads us to a wide basin with steep and shallow untouched shots descending into it. We climb to the summit, where even the fierce winds can’t detract from the fact that we can see the ocean in nearly all directions. It’s simply nice to see anything after yesterday’s lack of visibility.

Although I’m convinced Leifur is going to suggest we eat our lunch (smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches) on the cold, windy ridge (we had previously picnicked in freezing rain and I was convinced that the Icelandic people must enjoy eating in particularly cold locales), he suggests we scoot down into a protected cove to take a break.

After lunch, we ski six inches of creamy Arctic snow down the basin floor. We’re all so delighted at our luck—finally! Skiing powder in Iceland!—we all immediately attach our skins to our skis and begin climbing for another lap. Shockingly, we run into another group of backcountry skiers. According to Leifur, there are only about 300 people in Iceland who go ski touring (granted, there are only 300,000 or so people in the whole country). There are a couple of “ski stations,” as they call ski areas, but the biggest one only opened five days this winter due to a lack of snow. So if you’re a skier in Iceland, you’ve got to climb for your turns.

After our second lap, we drop back down to the road, change out of our boots, and head to the local swimming pool, which has tubs full of steaming hot water. Finally, a day in Iceland worth writing home about.

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Iceland rules. In every way


Iceland rules. In every way possible (volcanoes and all).

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