Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Sometimes you have to just pinch yourself!

Shimshal anchored at Sopandi

I am sure Sally never believed that a Spring cruise from Reykjavik  to go ski touring in the far north west of Iceland would be either fun or possible. To be honest I doubted it too. We had heard tales of folk pinned down in northerly winds in Reykjavik for a month at a time and here we were trying to combine a yacht delivery with a ski mountaineering adventure in an impossibly short 2 week vacation.

Today was the day we had to pinch each other! Last night we spent at anchor in the uncharted Lonafjordur. The northern lights were switched off as it never really got dark but the day dawned bright, crisp and sunny with a faint breeze from the east. Helen and Dave were on hand to act as dinghy support and to look after the boat whilst we were ashore so we were able to head for the hills with no nagging worries tugging us back to the boat. Everything was perfect.

Skis go on just above the high tide line

Helen dropped us off near the head of Skopandi where the snow came down to the shore and so we were able wear skins and skis from start to finish. With unbelievable luck we found the snow to be in perfect spring condition so no need to slog away breaking the trail through breakable crust and other ski touring nightmares. We skinned to the head of the Loch and crossed a snow bridge over a steam which we followed for a while before re-crossing it higher up. All around the scenery was fantastic with snowy white peaks all around, blue sky and blue fjords.

Aurora dropped off a snow shoe party just after we set off on skins

Crossing our first stream

We climbed easily up a snow bowl and then traversed onto a high ridge where we left the skis and walked on verdant mosses and lichens to the summit. Far below, anchored well out in the fjord, was our boat and we called up Helen on the VHF who could see us from the sea.

By now the cloud was bubbling over the windward ridges and the main summit a couple of hundred metres above us was already swathed in swirling mist. So, when we got back to the skis, the skins came off and we swooped effortlessly down the perfect spring snow stopping only to take in the stunning scenery and fantastic isolation of our situation.

Shimshal now a distant spec at anchor at Sopandi

We left the skis a little below the ridge as a rock band barred the way

Shimshal now tiny below

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A radio call to the boat saw Helen quickly into the dinghy to collect us and take us back to Shimshal for lunch swinging gently at anchor in a sparkling fjord surrounded by glittering snowy mountains just 13 miles south of the Arctic Circle. 

Things don't come much better than that.

Fantastic snow

Ski Boots of and Sea Boots on

Sally & Helen

Back on the boat after a perfect ski trip