For every committed ski tourer the end of the season and the arrival of summer is bittersweet. The prospect of many months of hot, snowless days before we can step back in to our skis and smooth down skins once again is not a pleasant one. What is the best way to cope? The obvious answer is to head North, in search of the endless winter!
Iceland’s famous Troll peninsula, surrounded by the Arctic ocean is a unique ski touring destination and should rightly be on everyone’s bucket list.
The peninsula was home to the last of the Trolls, who were according to legend still living in caves till only 300 years ago. It is still a wild and dramatic place. A seemingly endless range of mountains rise straight out of the cobalt blue Arctic Ocean and climb to around 1500m making this perfect for ski tourers to explore. Skiing from a pristine summit down wide slopes above the sea and below a huge sky makes this a truly memorable way to finish a ski season and will leave your soul with enough ‘candy’ to survive the long summer till we can once again get excited like children as the first snow flakes fall.
Is It For Me?
Ski 3: You are a confident skier on red runs and enjoy playing with the terrain, skiing narrow corridors at the side and using the bumps to help start a new turn. When the slope gets steeper (up to but not exceeding 300/steep black runs) you are capable of looking ahead and identifying the line you intend to ski. You are also capable of adjusting your skiing so you can follow your intended route. In fresh snow, off piste or when the bumps get larger you can still manage to make controlled progress using skids and side slips to cope.
Mtn 3 – Uphill kick turns, when touring should be fluid and reliable in both directions on hard snow up to 300. On alpine glacial tours a familiarity with harnesses and crevasse rescue techniques is desirable but not essential. Skiers will be comfortable transitioning between skis/skins and boots independently up to 300.
Fit 1 – As a skier you are capable of skiing all day with regular rests without noticing a significant drop in your technique through fatigue. You are capable of hiking in soft snow with skis on your back or skinning uphill for 2-3 hours (600-800m). A moderately heavy rucksack 5-8kgs will be carried during your course.
The extensive Troll peninsula has literally thousands of possible ski touring itineraries. Without the network of huts found in the European Alps the best option for exploring this vast area is to ski tour from a base in one of the traditional fishing villages, dotted along the coast.
We will be based in the village of Olafsfjörður on the eastern coast of the peninsula and around 60 mins drive from the regions capitol Akureyri. Our accommodation is a very comfortable hotel, which will have all the modern facilities and be the perfect place to relax after a hard days touring.
The weather in Iceland is, as you might expect quite variable! But we will have the advantage of almost 24 hours daylight which means that we can mix sightseeing and skiing together to make the best possible use of the weather windows and conditions. We may, for example have delayed starts or even do 2 tours in a day, starting early as the sun rises and then having a leisurely lunch and a siesta before the heading out again to finish as the sun is setting. This flexible approach will allow our Mountain Guides to make the most use of the available weather and conditions, ensuring that you get the most from your weeks touring.
Over the course of the 6 days we will make use of our 4×4 vehicles to access as much of the available skiing terrain as possible. An average day will include around 1200 – 1500m of ascent before a similar descent. This might seem daunting but because we will start skinning at almost sea level there is no effect from altitude and our day itineraries will allow us to carry light packs.
This is a sample programme, which is intended to give an outline the type of ski touring we will undertake. It is based on the weather and conditions encountered by our trip in May 2016, and is therefore ONLY for guidance.
Saturday: We will aim to meet at 18:00hrs, local time in our accommodation before your Guides will make a check of everyone’s equipment to check its suitability and fit. Over an excellent dinner we will discuss the weather and conditions for the following week.
Sunday: We plan to have an ‘easy’ day today in order to get our ski legs back and get our bearings. We will take the vehicles up the coast road to the fishing village of Siglufjörður. Above the town is a very small ski area which will have already closed for the season. We plan to skin up through the ski area and then climb on to one of the mountains behind the lifts. These mountains are relatively small at around 800m. They will give us stunning views of the east side of the peninsula and some of our potential summits for later in the week. Our descent is back down into the closed ski area and down to the car. We have the option for another loop or drive into Siglufjörður for a coffee at the excellent bakery. Our day is not done yet… a drive back to Olafsfjörður and we can have another mini tour above the town on the slopes of Barkarkolla 900m. From the summit of this peak we will have views across the Fjord and also into the vast interior of the Troll peninsula.
Monday: Fully recovered from travelling we are now ready for something a bit more challenging. We head North again through the road tunnels under the mountain towards Siglufjörður. Just before the last tunnel we will park right next to the snow and begin skiing up the northwest flank of þverfjall 927m. Easy angle slopes lead up to an impressively narrow ridge which links the 2 tops of this mountain together. The south face of this mountain will now have had enough sun to soften the snow so we will ski right from the summit to an altitude of around 600m before climbing the neighbouring peak Bangsahnjúkur 890m. The north face of this mountain often holds powder long after a storm cycle so we will again ski from the summit down (hopefully) powder snow into the valley. A very short skin from the valley bottom gains the col between the 2 peaks and gives us access to the huge open slopes leading back to the car. Approximate height gain: 1200m and time: 6-8hrs
Tuesday: Today we will drive South and into the famous Skíðadalur (Skiers valley) which is lined with superb ski peaks. It is also the home to Bergmenn Guides the only fully licensed heliski operator in Iceland. www.bergmenn.com/en There are almost too many summits to choose from, but one of our favourites from last year was a run called Hesturinn (the horse). We will climb right from the road onto the Horse’s lofty summit at 1325m, the summit gives us a superb panorama of the interior of the Troll peninsula and its vast area of wilderness, which is only really accessible by helicopter. Approximate height gain: 1225m and time 6 hrs.
Wednesday: After 2 big days we may choose something a little easier for today. Leaving from directly behind the village of Dalvik we skin gently west up the beautiful valley of Karlsárdalur. At the top of the valley we have several summits to choose from depending on snow conditions and motivation. The mountains form a natural amphitheatre allowing us to time our descent to get the best snow conditions. Bonus laps are also available for those with more in their legs, but a quick ski through the valley back to road and we can spend the afternoon in the hot springs giving our legs a bit of a holiday too! Approximate height gain: 950m and time 5 hrs.
Thursday: Near to Dalvik is the Svarfaðardalsvegur – a long, deep valley with numerous farms dotted along its length. We will of course pick the one that gives us the best snow but it may for example be Krosshnjúkar 1194m. We will climb this mountain from the south first by gentle slopes before kick turning our way up a steeper permanent snow field and on to the summit ridge. Timing is everything to get the most from this tour and without too much delay we will ski north enjoying powder snow in this sheltered bowl. After a rest we will re-climb towards the summit before turning off and regaining the col on the ridge. Now ahead of us is a fantastic descent right back to the car down wide slopes that will have transformed into perfect spring snow. Approximate height gain: 1500m and time 8 hrs
Friday: Our last full day and not wanting to waste any of it we could opt to use the Snow cat operation based in Olafsfjörður. This specially adapted piste machine will whisk us up to the summit of Múlakolla 970m. From the summit we will pause to admire the views of the impressive cliffs and fjord below before skiing south on softening spring snow. After an effortless ascent and breathtaking descent it is time for the work to begin and we now climb the opposite side of the valley and continue along the ridge to the summit of Kerahnjúkur 1097m, which dominates this part of the peninsula. There are several descents from the summit of Kerahnjúkur, the most exciting is to descend the ridge a little before skiing the face directly below the summit. This impressive descent is viewable from the main road and skiers for weeks to come will be admiring the tracks we leave behind. The valley below will give us many possible lines to make the most of the snow as we descend back to our car. If the mood and wallet allows we could always take the Snowcat back up for another run! Approximate height gain 600m, descent 1800m and time 8 hrs
Saturday: We depart after breakfast, but depending on flight times it is always possible to squeeze one more tour in. Directly opposite the hotel Karlsá Lodge is a small peak called Arnfinnsfjall 853m. A quick skin leads us to the top of this peak, giving us our last views of the Troll peninsula before a superb descent drops us back on the road in time for a shower and change of clothes before travelling to the airport. Approximately height gain 800m and time 3-4hrs.
What Will I Need?
Equipment for this course can be hired from Glenmore Lodge at no extra cost.
Please note that we are unable to transport this equipment to Iceland. Individuals wishing to borrow items from Glenmore Lodge will be responsible for costs associated with its transport to and from Iceland. Equipment can be collected from Glenmore Lodge or can be sent be courier to a UK address, at the hirer’s expense.
(* Starred Items are available to borrow from GL Stores – see equipment request form)
- Skis with touring bindings, skins and ski crampons*
- Ski Poles – ideally fixed length*
- Ski Mountaineering Boots – for example Scarpa Maestrale or Maestrale RS*
- Helmet – Optional, please see note below*
- Ice Axe 45cm– for example Petzl Snowracer*
- Light weight Crampons – for example Petzl Vasak (leverlock)*
- Avalanche Transceiver – for example Peips DSP Sport or Pro*
- 3m Probe and Shovel*
- Waterproof Jacket – breathable, Gore Proshell is ideal.
- Waterproof Ski Trousers
- Thermal Bottoms x1
- Thermal Tops x 2 – long sleeves
- Mid Layers – Fleece or synthetic
- Soft Shell or fleece Jacket
- Lightweight Belay Jacket
- Cuddly toy
- Sun hut and Warm Hat
- Sunglasses – CE Cat 4 rating for high altitudes.
- Ski Goggles
- Warm Gloves: Thick and Thin
- Ski Socks
- Compass and whistle – your Guide will have all the necessary maps and guidebooks.
- Pen knife
- Rucksack – 35 litres*
- Waterbottle – 1ltr Nalgene
- Suncream and Lip Salve – SPF 30 minimum
- Personal first aid – some tape, Compeed, plaster for blisters and your own pain relief (aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol)
- Ear Plugs – optional
- Camera, Money, Passport.
- Personal Clothing – for wearing in the valley.
- All guiding cost and expenses
- Accommodation in shared rooms
- Full board including breakfast, packed lunch and dinner.
- All guiding at a ratio of 1:6 maximum.
- In course transport, in hired 4×4 vehicles.
- Equipment hire – by prior arrangement. Individuals will be responsible for the collection, transport and return of any borrowed equipment from Glenmore Lodge.
What’s NOT Included:
- Travel to and from the start of the course.
- Additional use of uplift, snowcat or helicopter.
- Cost of transporting ski equipment to and from course.
We use a 2 star hotel when in the valley. Courses use twin accommodation in hotels and are based upon sharing with another course participant.
Courses which use mountain huts will be typical Alpine mountain huts, utilising Alpine style bunk accommodation. Typically multiple occupancy.
Travel to and from courses not included. Course participants are responsible for arranging personal travel as required.
Alpine rescue insurance – Obligatory
We recommend taking out an insurance policy that covers both rescue and medicals. Check out: www.snowcard.co.uk or www.thebmc.co.uk
Please note that Iceland is not automatically included in some ski insurance packages.
All of Glenmore Lodge internationally ski touring course are staffed by qualified and certified IFMGA Mountain Guides. More information on the of Mountain Guides can be found at www.bmg.org.uk or www.ivbv.info/en/home
The course will be based in the village of Dalvik on the east coast of the Troll peninsula which is in the far north of Iceland. The nearest airport to Dlavik is Akureyri, 40 mins from Dalvik. On the Saturday afternoon/evening our Guides will be available to pick up students at the airport and transport them in our hire vehicles to the accommodation, this pick up will be approximately 16:00hrs. Please contact the Lodge directly to arrange this.
Flights from the UK to Akureyri via Reykjavik.
Easyjet, BA fly from several UK airports direct to Reykjavik Keflavik (KEF).
From Keflavik airport there is a regular bus service approx: 1.5 hrs) to Reykjavik Domestic Airport where there are regular flights to Akureyri.
Iceland Air are also offering direct flight to Akureyri from both Machester and Glasgow. www.icelandair.co.uk
If you wish to do some additional sightseeing as part of your trip to Iceland it is possible to hire cars and 4×4 at Keflavik and drive north to Aukreyri approx. 8hrs. Another option would be extend your trip and hire a vehicle in Akureyri and travel back to Keflavik via the Icelandic ring road, clockwise from Aukeyri would pass most of the major geothermic attractions and take around 2 days.
Keflavik to Reykjavik bus transfer:
Reykavik Excursions www.re.is/flybus
Bookings made through our website require payment in full. However bookings made by telephone with our Booking office can be made in full or secured with a 25% non-refundable deposit. The full balance will be due 6 weeks prior to the intended arrival date.
All bookings are subject to our full booking conditions, which are available on our website.
British citizens require a British passport to travel to the international destinations we visit. Passports can take approximately 3-6 weeks to obtain and potentially longer if this is your first passport application.
There are currently no visa requirements for our Alpine courses.
In the event of any flight delay or cancellation at your UK or overseas point of departure, the airline is responsible for providing appropriate assistance as legally required by the Denied Boarding Regulations, where applicable.
Delays and cancellations to all travel to and from the course may affect your ability to join the course and in this instance, course participants would not be entitled to a refund or to re-arrange their course and will also be responsible for organising their own alternative travel arrangements.
Our courses may be subject to a minimum number of bookings to operate. This will be identified in the course description. The deadline for deciding if a sufficient number of clients have booked to travel is usually no later than the date by which full payment of the course must be made. In the event that minimum numbers have not been met, we reserve the right to cancel your holiday and refund all monies paid.
Cancellation by Client
Any changes or cancellations will need to be given to us in writing or by email. For courses based in the UK, these will be subject to an administration fee of £35. For cancellations made to overseas courses, the participant is liable for the non-refundable 25% deposit.
For any cancellations made within 6 weeks of the start of the course, participants are liable for the full course fee.