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Tips for Backcountry Skiing in Iceland

Backcountry Babes offers an annual women’s trip to Iceland.  On these trips I’ve picked up some tips to share…

iceland backcountry ski trip for women

1. Buy your beer and/or booze at the international airport, or maybe consider quitting drinking. It’s just so expensive!  Each beer in a can is about $6, and each beer at a bar is more like $12.

2. Rent a car at the international airport and don’t look back. The internal flights are expensive and the amount of time it takes to travel from the international airport to the domestic airport and wait for the connecting flight seems to waste a whole day. Plus, driving around the island is a great way to see more terrain.  (Caution: when you open your car door, hold on to it tightly!  Don’t let your car door blow open onto another car. It’s windy!   There are no trees blocking that Atlantic breeze, and gusts can come from nowhere!)

3. Go north to Ayerkuri & Dalvik area. Cool ski culture there! Buy lift tickets at the ski area (like $5/hr, cheaper than a can of beer!) and you can use it for backcountry access sort of, but mostly it’s just fun to see Icelandic ski culture and try to catch poma lifts that are spinning absurdly fast.

4. Rent a cool vacation rental near the beach, and get inside Icelandic information from friendly hosts!

– The town of Dalvik is pretty cool, with an apres-ski bar on the main street corner in town. Lots of good affordablish ($20 fish soup, salad and bread!), locally brewed beer, and other backcountry skiers.

5. Siglofjordur has some cool skiing! Park at trailheads, typically parking can be found near tunnels.

6. The west fjords are super cool too! Hire a guide and a boat captain and hit lines accessible from the ocean.

7. Time of year: Aim for Spring Skiing! Daylight in April is already absurd in northern Iceland. It’s light by 4am, dark at 11:30pm. You can sleep in and still ski for 10 hours if you want! While I was there I asked local ski patrollers about powder skiing in the winter. They explained to me that winter is not usually good for backcountry skiing because most of the powder gets transported by the wind, creating a more dangerous snowpack with wind slabs.  Backcountry skiing happens when the melt/freeze cycle turns the snowpack into corn, pretty much eliminating the wind slab problem.  The ski areas would be a good winter option!  Pack your parka and your giant wool sweaters, and internal coziness because it’s cold and dark in the winter!

8. Stock up at the bakery in Ayerkuri. It’s the best bakery in the world! Buy fish at fish market in Ayerkuri and cook it in your vacation rental. Sometimes fish from the market even comes marinated in a tinfoil dish! Supplement the meal with rice, veggies, etc from the grocery store.

9. Take a heli day at Arctic Heli near Dalvik. This is a surprisingly affordable for heli skiing (especially in Iceland where everything is a bit expensive!) and a and very cool experience… It’s a great way to see a lot of terrain, and ski more downhill with less hiking.  Fun bar at the end of the day, and a fun way to meet other traveling skiers.

heli drop in iceland for backcountry skiing

Emily, the author, getting dropped off by Arctic Heli last April 🙂

10. It’s often windy. There are no trees in Iceland!

11. Go to hot springs!! There are geothermic pools all over Iceland! The famous tourist trap, Blue Lagoon, is actually run-off from the geothermic energy plant that they decided to turn into a resort. I’ve heard it’s pretty cool, and the foggy atmosphere makes it feel less crowded 🙂  But there are other cool, smaller, ocean side options scattered around the country 🙂

12. If you come on our Backcountry Babes trip, we’ll take care all the driving, we’ll have guides with backcountry ski trailheads, ski routes, and customize each day to maximize time and fun according to our group!

For more information on this check out Women’s Backcountry Trip Ski Iceland

Our 2021 Trip Dates April 11, 2021 – April 17, 2021