Ski Trip: North Iceland

Welcome to the hidden gem of the North. Ólafsfjörður sits in the Eyjafjörður fjord an hours drive from the biggest town in the North of Iceland, Akureyri. It is a small, unspoilt fishing settlement that’s fast becoming an outdoor enthusiast‘s dream come true. Ólafsfjörður was connected with a ‘road’ for the first time in 1940, when the horse riding trail through Lágheiði was improved enabling cars to get over the heath. Before, ships, seaplanes, and horses provided the transport. The population isn’t far off 1,000 people (officially recorded at 824 in 2011).

Fishing is still the main industry in the town and several fishing trawlers make their home in the town‘s harbour, although tourism is becoming more and more important for the local economy. There are a handful of heli-skiing operations working in the area and these base themselves in surrounding lodges and cabins.

It is still so remote, however, that if you just turn up to ski on your own or in a group, there is very little information on where to go. But that’s what we liked the most.

Dan, Adam and me met at Keflavik airport in the south after our impeccably timed flights from London, Stockholm and Geneva on Wednesday morning.  We picked up our rental 4×4 from Lotus Car Rental and set off on a 5hr drive north vaguely aiming for the town of Akureyri.
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Our first impression of Iceland. Barren terrain and long straight roads.
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First stop in Akureyri: Brynja Ice Cream, the best ice cream spot in Iceland.
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Behind the scenes tour at the search and rescue centre in Akureyri thanks to Magnus.
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The road from Akureyri to Olafsfjordur
The harbour of Olafsfjordur
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Our front door
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Room with a view
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The quiet streets of Olafsfjordur

Skiing around Olafsfjordur. We spent most days setting off with the car and driving to a nearby spot along the highways, pulling up and skinning from the car to nearby peaks. We found vertical descents of around 1500m, with no one else in sight. A paradise for skiers and mountaineers.

There are no websites with information on ski routes. There are no guide books. It’s the complete opposite to Chamonix, where you can find detailed guides and accounts of all the routes. The only thing we relied on was a topo map and our local friends’ recommendations. It was a raw experience and it was awesome!

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Getting ready for a big day exploring
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Magical Iceland
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The gang stoked for the first day!
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Setting off
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The views get better and better the higher you go
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Magnus in his element

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It wasn’t always clear blue skies
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Olafsfjordur in the distance
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Walking into the white out
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Storm brewing
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A typical parking spot for us
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Next time we’ll take surfboards!
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Route finding wasn’t always easy
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This is Dan
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Finding lines for the next days
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Thanks Lotus Car Rental, your car was awesome!
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We got lucky with the weather
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Very lucky
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Climbing
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More climbing
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The Icelandic crows
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Adam ready for another boot pack
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Beast
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We tried our best to see a sunset, this was at 23:30.
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Adam riding back to the car at midnight
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Dan sitting comfortably
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Setting off again
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That summit feeling
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The views were generally alright
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More climbing
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Breather
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On to the summit
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Running out of ways to describe the terrain in Iceland
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Bjorn leading the way
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More bootpacking
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Breather
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That summit feeling 2.0
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Well deserved pizzas from the only restaurant/bar in town, Hollin.
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Adam was excited
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The perfect end to a big day skiing

A big thanks to Bjorn and Gunnlaugh for letting us stay in your amazing apartment and for all the local knowledge and a big party night in Akureyri! Also thanks to Magnus and Bryndis for just being awesome and joining us whenever you could around your busy schedules. There’s a reason you guys are in high demand. You guys are the best!

Biggest thanks goes to Dan and Adam who made the trip what it was and it was epic. You guys rock. Some advice for both of you though.. Adam, make less coffee and Dan, drive into snowfields less!

Lastly here’s a short video I made. Also would like to thanks Lotus Car Rentals and Concept Pro Shop Chamonix for helping make the trip possible.

 

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