Three days into a sailing and skiing adventure through the heart of northwest Iceland’s Glacier Fjords, a developing springtime blizzard threatened to thwart our plans to ski over the mountains to the next fjord. Sailing toward our starting point for the day, with the storm’s first snowflakes already dancing, this beautiful ski line almost magically presented itself in the mountainside. Climbing and skiing it seemed like the perfect start to a potentially stormy day.
With Captain Siggi and his friend Runar keeping watch over us, we rowed toward the base of what we dubbed the Breakfast Couloir. These fjords and mountains are part of Iceland’s Hornstrandir Peninsula, a unique corner of the country in that it has been uninhabited–and free of grazing sheep–for more than 50 years. The region is also a backcountry skiing paradise, especially when you have Aurora, a 60-foot sloop, for exploring the region’s countless summit-to-sea descents.
The uppermost reaches of the line ramped to a vertical wall of ice, but it was the bottom 1,200 feet of steep, untracked corn that lured us. Shorebirds and waves along the water mixed with the rush of a small waterfall nearby. We strapped on crampons, kicked easy steps in the just-ripening corn, and called it good when the line firmed up and began to push 50 degrees.
Siggi and Runar had just tacked Aurora and were heading up the fjord, well within our sights. While carefully leap frogging our way down the line, our good buddy Ken Lucas skied past my wife, Emily, and me. With the boat in plain view, snow in the air, and Ken doing what he does best. It was hard to miss this shot.
Emily and I had envisioned this image since our first trips to Iceland’s mountains nearly 20 years ago, but it’s not surprising that it came together so naturally.
Photo by Brian Mohr