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.
This trip through ancient and unspoiled terrain, only accessible by boat, is marked by spectacular solitude and silence – an ideal environment for exploration and reflection. Depending on weather and sea conditions, each voyage of this adventure will vary.
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.
- 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
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.
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 you'll love this adventure
- Backcountry ski between the remote fjords, anchoring in a different harbour each night.
- An arctic sail expedition to the beautiful Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West Fjords of Iceland
- High chance to spot the Northern Lights
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.
- 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.
- Travel to Ísafjörður
- Ski and other equipment hire (if needed)
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.
Who is this trip 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.
What 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.
What should I bring?
• 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!
Will there be mobile phone reception?
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.
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.
Ski Sail Iceland Backcountry
Please complete the enquiry form above with as much detail as you can and we will send you all the trip information and connect you with the operator so you can make a booking directly.
If you have queries and questions about the trip include those in your form and we’ll personally reply to you within 24 hours.
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