A 6 day Iceland backcountry skiing and sail expedition to the stunning Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West Fjords of Iceland- only a few miles from the Arctic Circle. With a fantastic variety of mountains and ridges to ski, stunning scenery and a comfortable sailboat to act as your ‘movable base’ taking you to remote spots otherwise out of reach, this sell out trip is sure to be a highlight of your year… and possibly your best ski trip ever.
The West Fjords region of Iceland is a remote and exciting areas of mountains, sheltered fjords and bays offering endless pursuits for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The jewel in the crown is the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, packed with unspoilt landscapes and a rich history. There are no roads in the nature reserve— and the only way to explore is by boat. Unsurprisingly then, you can expect to stay there for days without meeting a single soul. Doing so, you will have a chance to discover the absolute essence of remote Iceland (and possibly the Northern Lights!).
Marine and aviary life abound in the deep and dramatic fjords and the unexplored landscapes make for an adventure playground for a curious and adventurous explorer.
On this Iceland backcountry ski and sailboat trip the expedition yacht that you will be sailing is a former race yacht and serves as the perfect movable base for you to spend these six days skiing between the remote fjords and the unexplored mountains – many of which have never been skied before. Your crew is experienced, friendly, professional, and ready to help you have the most fantastic week. There are roughly 6-8 hours of skiing available each day with all backcountry skiing abilities catered for. If you wish to have a shorter ski day you can simply ski down to the yacht, you might want to spend the afternoon exploring the fjords by kayak which the boat comes equipped with and offers a different perspective on this incredible moving landscape.
Each day will be spent exploring new slopes and each night you will anchor in a different location and the evenings will be spent refueling on delicious home cooked food and sharing stories with your fellow travellers. At night, you will relax in comfortable bunks as the gentle waves rock you to sleep. If the sky is clear you may want to set your alarm to get up in the night to see if you can spot the Northern Lights.
- Backcountry skiing on a variety of slopes many of which have never been skied before
- Sailing the remote fjords of north west Iceland
- Stunning views of the bay and ice fjords every day
- Picking mussels in Arctic waters to enjoy for dinner
- Kayaking around the bay to get a closer view of this beautiful area
No sailing experience is required and those of all backcountry ski abilities are welcome.
Join the adventure solo or as part of a group. The yacht has been fitted to accommodate ten guests and two crew – so the groups on this expedition are small and cozy. Fill out the enquiry form today and be sure to get some serious snow under your skis.
Why We Love This Adventure
- Backcountry ski between the remote fjords, anchoring in a different harbour each night.
- An arctic expedition to the beautiful Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West Fjords of Iceland
- Chance to spot the Northern Lights
Starting the finishing in Ísafjörður, this Arctic expedition explores the beautiful Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West Fjords of Iceland—only a few miles from the Arctic Circle. Backcountry skiing between the remote fjords, anchoring in a different harbour each night.
The final itinerary will only be decided upon when leaving Ísafjörður harbour. Below is the most likely itinerary, but the crew will take into account weather and snow-conditions and always look for the best possible option.
Depart from Ísafjörður at 14:00, with 2-4 hours of sailing to Hesteyri in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. We will relax at anchor and maybe explore on the Zodiac and take a look at the old whaling station that once was the driving force in this now abandoned settlement. Since it will still bright in the evening during the latter part of the season, we will then have an option to do a short ski run.
We’ll begin the day with safety briefing, avalanche search exercise, and an explanation of what to do in case of emergency. We will then ski from Hesteyrarfjörður to Veiðileysufjörður. The climb up Hesteyrarfjörður is easy and the ski slopes on the other side offer many possibilities. We may end the day by skiing the steepest slope of the trip, 45°-50° in steepness (of course this is optional—you can head down to the boat if you prefer!). Dinner will be at anchor in Veiðileysufjörður.
Today we will ski to Lónafjörður (Lagoon fjord). We begin the day by climbing up to one of the cols to take a look at the bays on the north side. We then ski down to the first valley in Lónafjörður and climb at least two more mountains before meeting the yacht again in the afternoon.
Here, we normally spend an extra day at the beautiful Rangali anchorage. Here are endless opportunities for skiing. From steep couloirs to rolling hills. One route will take us to the Snókur mountain with a good view of the coastal mountains on the east side of Hornstrandir. Often there is an opportunity to pick mussels for an après ski snack!
Today we skin up from the Sópandi inlet and over to Hrafnfjörður (Raven Fjord). The mountain cirque at the head of the fjord is very beautiful and the anchorage is a perfect spot to spend the night.
We will have a morning ski session before sailing back to Ísafjörður, with arrival around 16:00 in the afternoon. You can catch the last flight from Ísafjörður that night, though we suggest staying at least one night in Ísafjörður to relax and get to know this old and beautiful town.
- Airport transfer in Ísafjörður
- 6 days (5 nights) on a sailboat
- Guided backcountry skiing
- Sailing instruction
- Services of guides and crew
- Use of sea kayaks amongst the fjords (optional, please enquire)
- Use of stand up paddle boards (SUP)
- Use of wet weather sailing clothing
- All meals for the duration of the trip. Alcohol is not included.
What's Not included
- Travel to Ísafjörður
- Ski and other equipment hire (if needed)
Trip Duration6 days
Start LocationÍsafjörður, Iceland
End LocationÍsafjörður, Iceland
Average Group Size8-10
The yacht is a former race yacht and has been around the world four times in the Clipper yacht race.
Accommodation is seamanlike — simple and utilitarian — but the vessel is very sturdy and spacious. There are ten single berths.
The sailboat has good heaters, hot and cold water, good galley and spacious communal areas, two heads (toilets) and one shower. There is 220V electricity to charge batteries and other electronic devices. The vessel was initially fitted out for 15 crew, but can now accommodate 10 people — 2 crew and 8 guests. The boat is equipped according to strict Icelandic regulations in regards to emergency equipment.
The operator takes great pride in the food they serve on board and use local produce and ingredients as much as possible. Arctic char, cod, lamb and berries and rhubarb pies for desserts are common. Can cater for vegetarians and guests with dietary restrictions if you inform them in advance. It´s a good idea to take some of your own dietary substitutes if you have a specialist diet.
The trip starts and finishes in Ísafjörður, Iceland.
There are a few airlines with scheduled flights into Iceland. Check their websites for prices and schedules.
From the domestic airport in Reykjavík, there are 2-3 daily 40-minute flights to Ísafjörður. You can take the Fly-Bus (www.flybus.is ) between the airports and, depending on flight arrivals and departures, it may be possible to continue onwards to Ísafjörður the same day. Browse Air Iceland (www.airiceland.is ) for schedules and special offers.
You can also rent a car and drive to Ísafjörður. The drive is 450 km (on paved roads in its entirety), and normally takes approximately six hours.
We strongly recommend spending a few extra days visiting the West Fjords near Ísafjörður as well as other parts of Iceland. We are happy to help you plan your trip in more detail.
Please arrive in Ísafjörður ahead of your planned sailing time to meet the crew, stow your gear aboard our sailboat and pick up any last minute supplies. Arrival transfers are included from Ísafjörður Airport to the harbour.
This Trip is Suitable For
Backcountry skiers of all abilities. No sailing experience is required.
Fitness level required
While no specific physical preparation is required for the trip, to get the most out of the land and sea activities, a better than average fitness level is recommended. It is recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, rowing/paddling, or swimming are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy all the activities to the fullest degree.
Be prepared for some physical activity on the trip. This may be treks of up to 6 hours per day in wild terrain, often uphill or sea kayaking in mostly flat water. You don´t have to be a serious sailor, mountaineer or sea kayaker to enjoy the trip but as with all trips off the beaten track, you´ll enjoy the trip more if you’re in good shape.
Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat kind of skis are suitable?
Most people use AT (randonnée) or Telemark skis, but snowboards, cross-country skis or snowshoes can be used as well. You can bring your own skis or arrange hire in Ísafjörður.Do I need special insurance?
In case of a medical problem arising during the voyage, either on-board or onshore, which results in medical expenses—including but not limited to costs for evacuation with use of aircraft or boat and repatriation—the responsibility for payment of these costs belongs solely to the respective participant.
The tour operator requires that the participants ensure that such eventualities are covered by travel insurance. If for any reason an incident is not covered by travel insurance, the responsibility still remains with the participant. Be aware that a normal travel policy may not cover you for some geographical areas traveled to and there may be exclusions for what they describe as “hazardous sports,” which may include sailing, climbing, skiing and diving (especially in remote areas). Before arrival, participants must provide the name, address and telephone numbers for emergency contacts who can be reached should it prove necessary.
• Thermal underwear, at least two sets
• Wool or fleece thermal mid layer, take few thin layers instead of few thick ones.
• Hiking pants. We recommend no cotton clothing as cotton takes a long time to dry if wet.
• Thermal jacket (down or synthetic) optional
• Waterproof and breathable pants and jacket
• Wool/fleece hat
• Two pairs of gloves and one pair of mittens
• 3 to 4 pairs thick wool/synthetic socks and 2 to 3 pairs thinner socks
• Casual clothes for happy hour!
• Boat shoes or slippers with rubber soles for below decks
• Sleeping bag (summer rated is enough)
• Soft travel bag (no hard suitcases)
• Dark sun glasses
• Sunscreen / aftersun and sun hat
• Swim suit and towels
• Small backpack (30-40 litres)
• Personal medical kit to include personal medication, bandaids, throat lozenges, lip salves, sea-sickness tablets, etc. Don’t forget regular medication you may need (e.g. Asthma, bring your inhaler, even if you do not always need it).
• 1 litre water bottle and/or thermos
• For ski trips: skis, boots, skins, poles, shovel, avalanche beacon and probe. It´s mandatory to carry avalanche gear
• …and don’t forget your camera!
There is good mobile phone coverage and internet service in Iceland and in Greenland’s local villages, but normally coverage is poor whilst we travel on board Aurora. There is a satellite phone on board that can be used for urgent calls or emails.What about sea sickness?
We mostly sail short distances during our trips, and seasickness has not proven to be problematic. Still, it´s a good idea to bring medication if you know you are prone to seasickness or you think it will be helpful.
Dates & Availability
- 04 Mar 2019 – 09 Mar 2019
- 18 Mar 2019 – 23 Mar 2019
- 25 Mar 2019 – 30 Mar 2019
- 08 Apr 2019 – 13 Apr 2019
- 22 Apr 2019 – 27 Apr 2019
- 29 Apr 2019 – 04 May 2019
The company grew out of a passion for playing outdoors, a love for the wild and beautiful lands of the Arctic and the North Atlantic and a desire to explore further on foot, on skis, by kayak and under sail. They're dedicated to sharing these experiences by allowing other people to encounter the same thrills and pleasures through exciting but fun and safe adventure holidays.
We love their core values of silent travel, protection of the natural environment and respect of the local cultures.
Using expedition sailboats as motherships or mobile backcountry huts, offers a unique opportunity to explore otherwise inaccessible parts of the Arctic across Iceland, Greenland and Jan Mayen.
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