After reading about Arctic Heli Skiing in Iceland a year or so ago, cloudpeak and I decided to give it a go. So a few weeks ago, it was off to Iceland. Total win.The trip was spectacular. Great skiing, cool mountains, and an intimate friendly operation.
Travel was relatively painless - a 7 hour non-stop from Seattle to Reykjavik, plus an easy domestic leg in Iceland (driving is possible as well) - to the rather nice town of Akureyri where we were picked up.
We had good weather. The runs were mostly between two and three thousand feet of vertical. The long "cruisers" were fun, and the scenery was beyond spectacular. There were enough steeper runs to keep us amused. Snow conditions kept us from much of the steeper terrain. But that was fine - the skiing was still great. I'm hoping to get back someday for prime corn skiing that would allow us a bigger selection of steep pitches.
We skied five out of six days. The main reason we took the down day was the rate at which we were burning heli time. It worked out just fine as we did some really cool sightseeing for the day.
We started with a layover day in Reykjavik to shake off the jet lag. So, strangely, we started our ski trip by doing some whale watching. Got some sweet views of Humpbacks (below) and Minkes. BTW- Reykjavik is a really nice town.
Arctic Heli Skiing World HQ: A great old farmhouse set in a spectacular valley.
The view from our cabin after we settled in.
Heading back from breakfast
This should give you some sense of the skiing landscape.
Making lunch reservations at the cafe in Siglufjörður with the Arctic Ocean in view and the Arctic Circle on the horizon. After a stunning run to the valley floor, we skipped across the fjord to the town (center) by helicopter. Apparently we were the first experiment in the realm of fly-in lunch dining.
We got "parking" clearance from the town (really). It was the traditional Viking "first day of summer" - a national holiday. So finding and connecting with the right people was interesting. Sadly, no tower to buzz...
Looking out over the harbor.
Departing lunch with tummies full of tasty food...
...it was back to skiing
A few sightseeing shots from day five - our "down day".
Cave style entrance to some very cool hot springs - where plates are un-colliding. Crystal clear water, shafts of light, the works. The pics do not do it justice. If you are a Verne fan - you could imagine exiting at Stromboli...
Back to skiing for our last day
Arctic Heli is a pretty cool operation. Super small. Super friendly. Everyone hangs out, eats, etc. together. It is not, a big luxe lodge, fancy restaurant, cadres of waiters sort of place. More a farmhouse kitchen with a big communal table, and "please pass the salad" sort of place. The chef cooked meals are great (although breakfast is simple). They have a really nice sauna, hot tub etc. It suited me perfectly.
They have a ton of terrain. We probably averaged a "first descent" a day. The snowpack is interesting. It is not really much of a powder place (although we got a bit). The emphasis is on what we'd think of as nice spring snow and corn. Very maritime in nature (in a good way).
The Troll Peninsula is just shy of the Arctic Circle. So by April the days are really long. Which takes some of the hussle-bussle out of the daily routine. There is no rush to bust out first thing in the morning because you really are not limited by daylight. If you are having fun and want to keep skiing, you'd have to really push it to be limited by anything other than hunger or burning up heli time. So it is all about when during the "day" will deliver the best skiing, what your mood is, and just how long you can keep skiing. Our biggest day was 13 runs delivering a bit over 35K feet. I was beat or we probably would have banged out a few more.
One nice thing about the setup is that if you get forced into a down day or choose to take a down day, there are super cool places accessible nearby - making a down day into a great part of the experience instead of an exercise in "cabin fever".
The current "Everest" issue of Outside has a good article about the place. Good/accurate description. If you go, you'll probably meet most of the people mentioned. An assortment of publications have had pieces the past few years - so googling will also provide info.
Video to follow if I can finish getting my act together...
Edited by spindrift - 5/7/12 at 12:15pm