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The first turns of 2013-14 winter are being made in AK and I am just now finally getting a TR posted for a May 2013 splitboarding trip to Iceland. Hopefully the timing will be good for making a contribution to getting people fired up for this year’s winter.
This will be an epic photo-show in the vein of my usual TRs. I am posting a lot of photos. Take some time to view the phenomenal landscape of Iceland. If you didn’t already know it, you’ll come away with a realization that Iceland is no doubt a premier splitboarding destination, with endless big, aesthetic terrain, easy access, nice camping, a perfect mix of ice and greenery, plus many warm waters for soaking after long days in the mountains.
A couple of years ago when I was researching a splitting trip to Norway I came across some photos of Icelander’s backcountry skiing. The fjords looked as amazing as those in Norway, but different and unique. When Icelandair announced new direct flights to and from Anchorage at bargain rates I immediately took note. I began contemplating a spring shred trip and a few weeks later I convinced my girlfriend at the time to pull the trigger with me on plane tickets to Iceland.
Soon after that, MagnusIceland posted a video TR of a glorious Icelandic powder session. I immediately PM’d him to introduce myself and ask for local splitboarding beta. MagnusIceland got right back to me with good news; the snowpack was plentiful and the riding options were limitless. We messaged back and forth a few times and the next thing I knew MagnusIceland was inviting us along on a seafaring journey to a remote fjord for skiing and camping with a group of Icelandic shredders.
A few weeks later we found ourselves on Icelandair’s inaugural flight to Reykjavik from Anchorage and then 6 hours after that we were on the ground in Iceland, it was 5:00 am.
We had a six hour drive ahead of us in order to reach the northern location where we were to rendezvous with MagnusIceland and crew for our marine journey. We grabbed a rental car and got moving. In route to the boat launch we tried to absorb the exceptional landscape that would mesmerize our brains over the next two weeks.
Like the other Scandinavian countries, skiing has a long history in Iceland, as evidenced by this pair of skis from the nineteenth century, hanging in the rafters of an old eighteenth century barn we visited along the way.
With minutes to spare before our boat was scheduled for departure, we arrived at the waters of the Arctic Ocean where MagnusIceland and crew eagerly welcomed us, loaded us and our gear onto the deck, and launched us into the pristine blue waters of the Arctic Ocean. Wildlife was abundant. Views of shredding possibilities were prolific.
Following a scenic 3 hour boat ride we were on the beach making camp at the site of an ancient Viking farmstead.
Within 20 sleepless hours of total travel time from AK to the shore of this Icelandic fjord I was slapping on my skins to head out with the Icelanders for some turns under the midnight sun.
Glorious late night tracks above camp put down by the Icelanders…
Eager to finally sleep, we passed out hard in our tents and awoke the following morning to a bluebird sky and the sounds of seabirds and crashing waves. Little time was wasted gearing up and getting started on the ascent. I was on a mission to make crystal corn turns from a high peak all the way to the shore of the Arctic Ocean, 4,000 feet below.
The sustained pitch I wanted to ride didn’t end at the water however, it came to an abrupt end at a 200 ft. cliff/waterfall directly above the fjord. It was a big adrenaline rush, and super aesthetic, making careful turns right up to the cliff’s edge, with the clear blue waters sparkling below, a once in a rider’s lifetime experience. I carefully stopped, dismounted and climbed onto a sliver of exposed tundra for short hike back to relatively safe ground and then spent an hour lying on the soft, green tundra in the sun relaxing and refueling for the long return to camp.
Our Icelandic saga continued each day with beautiful ascents and views.
MagnusIceland contemplates his next line and then shows us how Icelandic splitters get things handled in the mountains.
Long days of riding were rewarded by night of relaxation in camp along the quiet Arctic shores.
The weather stayed clear and stellar Oceanic corn laps were the daily norm.
Team Iceland celebrates a very successful seafaring backcountry mission.
The following morning we board our vessel and return to civilization. In route we see some of our tracks above the waterfalls and scope out more amazing seaside terrain.
The boat camping journey was just the 1st leg of my Icelandic splitboarding saga. Once on land we hopped in the car and continued our explorations of rivers, waterfalls, and geothermics.
Rewards await those willing to descend into the great volcanic fissures….
Where does this passageway lead?
To heaven on a cold day….
A total recovery from 5 days of riding and camping.
In my book, there aint much better than spring riding sessions followed by hot springing (I am sure my Hwy. 395 brethren are nodding), however I have never had the honor of hot springing in steaming crystal clear azure water inside of a cave.
Hot water lives inside the fissures and I was climbing and swimming around in the caves like a Japanese snow monkey.
After a few days of soaking and kickin back it was time to seek more snow. We started driving, heading for a small village in a fjord that we heard had good skiing.
In route it started snowing a bit, and I started thinking powder.
The community surroundings looked quite promising.
When there is a ski jump in the town park, a rope-tow in the backyard, and a map of known avalanche paths surrounding the community, you know you are probably in the right place to rent a room and stay a while.
The weather was in-and-out but there seemed to be enough light to get out there and get a few pow turns on one of the backyard peaks.
The storm did not want to settle, but there was fresh dry snow and occasional windows of light. In the wind, I decided to head out couloir hunting.
Stoked to ride pow in a steep Icelandic couloir. Then back to the lodge for a soak in the geothermal fed outdoor tub. This is def the life…
Pretty nice spot for sure but there is a lot to see, so after the pow session we jumped on board an Icelandic spaceship to Mars…..
Actually, we just drove around Iceland for a while, but very often we felt like we might be on another planet…
In route to the next riding destination I stumbled upon a hot geothermal river and we ended up having another nice soak.
Camping in the larch forest with the ptarmigan later that evening….
….going for an early morning hike to visit more extraordinary cascades…
….and then following the rivers on down to the glorious seashore….
…and from the fjords back up into the mountains in search of snow.
I was soon skinning across an endless snowfield in search of turns on stellar blue afternoon.
A few hours later I was standing on the summit of a peak overlooking a fjord on the Norwegian Sea, being blown away by the view and the diversity of mountains all around me.
I descended a wide open face into a steep section of chutes, corn sloughing on all side me – here are some tracks:
I returned later that evening and was able to snap a photo of those tracks in the fading light.
The run ended at a river with a series of impressive waterfalls and some green grass = a nice place to land.
Rest was brief however, because getting in the nightly hot spring ritual and then finding a campsite became an urgent priority. Along the way we ran into a hard of caribou. At camp we settled in for the midnight sunset.
Sunrise brought early morning alpenglow and more waterfall explorations.
Afternoon corn was next on the itinerary.
We continued exploring the icy emerald island.
Wet weather had made it tough to get out riding for a few days and we were running out of time to shred. A blue window opened and we heading for a new pass to go for a skin.
Within a half hour the rain was hitting hard and the visibility was nil. I made my way to a rocky summit and used the rocks around me for definition on the descent. I made my way to a nice little couloir and sent it. It was short, but excellent; my last turns in Iceland.
With 2 days left in the trip and the rain pouring down, we decided to go backpacking into a geothermic valley drained by a hot river. If we were going to be wet, at least we could do it in warm water, rather than in cold rain.
The valley proved to be another Icelandic treasure.
I walked away from Iceland totally blown away by what an amazing landscape it is. Moreover, there is no doubt that Iceland is a world class splitboarding destination. In fact, if you lived in Iceland you could have entire mountains to yourself. Just check out the following images of various Icelandic backyards:
I have probably already overwhelmed readers with too many photos (again), but I can’t help but to finish this TR with a few more images of Iceland riding terrain. I think riders will appreciate seeing the playground that is out there.
Spring skiing is one of my greatest passions; warm weather, flowers, greenery, running water, camping on dry ground, and velvety corn snow. This will all have to wait until a new spring however, since its -8 f out my door right and winter is upon us. Happy Winter 13-14 and many pow days to you all.
Post subject: Re: Iceland May 2013: A Spring Splitboarding Adventure
Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:00 pm
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:40 am Posts: 11
Great to hear you had a good time, the season was good and this season seems to be kicking off nicely with some nice layers of snow building up all around. It was a brilliant trip you took with us and having Alaskan´s along made the trip even more special. Brilliant pics and i am happy that you left out the pictures when the locals kick the celebration to the next level xD....
Your trip reports are all time the best i have seen snowsavage! I have heard it said before, but you should publish a book of some sort. Excellent sense of adventure and stoke as well as great pics, every trip report i have seen from you
thanks and cheers
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