Ski Touring in Iceland with Euan Whittaker from ClimbNow
This weeks blog post is from Euan Whittaker, from ClimbNow, and his recent ski touring trip to Iceland.
The Troll Peninsula is located in the North of Iceland between the fjord of Skagafjordur and the fjord of Eyjafjordur. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with glaciers, deep valleys and hundreds of mountain tops culminating in its highest peak, Kerlingarfjoll, 1538 metres. The area is a paradise for ski touring and ski mountaineering and a must for all those interested in these sports.
I visited the area in May for the first time with two friends, Tina and Scott. To get to the peninsula we travelled first to Reykjavik before making the 380 kilometre drive to the cosy little fishing village of Dalvik. For those who prefer, it is possible to fly to Akureyri from Reykjavik. However, the drive North passes through stunning scenery and is worth completing in at least one direction.
Dalvik is a small village at the heart of which is the brilliant café, Kaffihus Bakkabaedur ran by the brilliant host Bjarni. This is the place to go following a great days touring for the cake and coffee or the fish soup and homemade bread. Or you never know, you may even get to try the local delicacy, Greenland Shark and Schnapps.
The ski touring begins most days from sea level. Often in April skiing from the shore is possible. In May a short carry may be required before the skis go on the boots. However, in May there is 21 hours daylight which means that good weather for skiing and clear summits can be found on many days by varying the start time of the tour. There are many brilliant summits to visit on skis and some that use ice axe and crampons for short distances. The great thing about the summits is most of the time you will be by yourself. In fact, in most valleys you will be by yourself. In six days touring we saw other skiers twice.
There are two maps that can be bought for the peninsula form Bjarni. Information on tours can be hard to come by but Bjarni can give you some ideas. Here is a few pieces of advice from our trip there that may be of use in panning tours;
- It is worth driving around the peninsula on a clear day to spot lines and possible ski touring summits.
- Rock faces and barriers are not clearly marked on the maps. If you have poor visibility be very, very careful where you go.
- Before heading out on the hill make sure you work out how to adjust your compass for magnetic variation (it is not the same as in the UK!).
- A GPS is handy. It is worth changing to the appropriate format before leaving the valley.
- Weather forecasts and avalanche forecasts can be accessed at en.vedur.is. A forecast for Dalvik can also be found on www.yr.no.
- There is a rescue app that can be downloaded onto smart phones for Iceland. This is 112 Iceland. It is important to check in on the app on reaching Dalvik.
In six days of touring we didn’t even scratch the surface of what is possible. We climbed some beautiful remote peaks, skied some great snow and were rewarded for our efforts by some great adventures that will have given us all lifelong memories. I hope to go back very, very soon.