While Iceland is known for its stark natural beauty and vast, seemingly untouched landscapes of volcanoes, geysers, and glaciers, it has also become a destination for those seeking a truly unique backcountry experience. Dubbed “Niceland” for its extraordinarily kind locals, Iceland boasts powder skiing in the early season and descents that take skiers and boarders from the tops of peaks all the way to the waters of the Arctic Ocean. But the ski season doesn’t end when traditional resorts shut down; in fact the 24 hours of light during Iceland’s summer means you can make turns well into the night.
“Come May and June, there are 24 hours of daylight, and you’ll experience the best corn snow on the planet,” says Jökull Bergmann, founder of Bergmenn Mountain Guides and Arctic Heli Skiing. “Iceland also happens to be one of the safest places on earth these days, and there are short, direct flights from many US destinations.” Despite the untouched, expansive terrain the Troll Peninsula of Iceland promises, it is still relatively undiscovered—less skiers come to this area in a calendar year than ride the lifts at some popular American resorts in a single weekend.
Bergmann set up his Arctic Heli Skiing business—which operates from March through June—on an old sheep farm that once belonged to his grandparents (he grew up working on the farm). The former farm house, now the Klængshóll Lodge, is where guests dine together, often convening afterward by the fire in the one-time barn, a cozy spot for sharing stories about the day’s adventures. Guests stay in charming, two-floor sleeping cabins on the property.
Arctic’s sister company, Bergmenn Mountain Guides, acts as the ski-touring entity of the business and is who we ventured out with while in Iceland. For the first time this winter, touring groups can stay at the ski-in, ski-out Karlsá Lodge, superbly located on the ocean and in the middle of the best ski-touring terrain in the Troll Peninsula. The 1920s-built main house sleeps 14 people and has a dining room, lounge, and kitchen; an old cow shed serves as a place for skiers and boarders to stow their equipment.
A new addition to the Iceland backcountry scene is the uber-luxe Deplar Farm—a part of the tony Eleven collection of properties—opened this past winter in Northern Iceland. Also once a working sheep farm, Deplar is a heli-skiing operation set in a valley surrounded by stunning 3,000-foot peaks. The amenities are vast at Deplar, including an indoor-outdoor infinity pool, a spa, several suites, and summit-to-sea heli skiing right out the door of the resort.
If you’re the type of skier always on the hunt for the pristine, untracked terrain void of lift lines and crowds, Iceland just may be the destination you need to put on your must-visit list this winter—and fast, before everyone else discovers what they’ve been missing.
In Case You Missed It ...
On Location / Iceland Pt.1
The Packing List
A selection of clothes we brought with us to Iceland.