Iceland is a beautiful country. With geysers, hot springs and volcanoes, it’s thriving with geoactivity, but it’s also defined by craggy, white mountain ranges and gleaming ocean views. Winter sports enthusiasts across the globe fantasize about hitting the snowy peaks of Iceland’s mountains and letting loose. It’s always been a dream of mine to visit the island country, and when I got an opportunity to do so a few years back, I leapt at it.
Iceland is one of the best places on earth for winter sports, and heli-skiing feels particularly suited to the region. With big open spaces and a relatively limited population, there’s lots of room to explore and lots of privacy to do it. The landscape is almost magical, the resources incredibly and the Arctic Heli Skiing operation based out of northern Ireland provided an amazing experience.
It’s remote territory
There are less than 350,000 people in all of Iceland, and they’re virtually all living along the southern coast. More than 80 percent of the country is completely uninhabited, snowy terrain, making it an ideal remote vacation spot for the athletic adventurer. When I visited, there were only two other guests at the Artic Heli Skiing resort, making it almost as private as possible.
Although I visited Arctic Heli Skiing, there are lots of options scattered throughout the country, and most will offer you remote terrain almost entirely to yourself. Since the island requires a relatively long flight from any major continent, people aren’t flocking to the heli skiing operations in Iceland the way they might in Canada or the Swiss Alps. With freedom from large groups of tourists, I felt like I had more freedom to explore the terrain on my open and skate at my own pace without worrying about having my journey interrupted.
The landscape is beautiful
Iceland cannot be described. The land isn’t smooth and sloping, like some mountains are - it’s intense, full of craggy rock faces and sharp angles (but there is plenty of variety, which means beginners and experts alike have great options for skiing). But it also has wide open views of the ocean, where animals are swimming, and beautiful golden sunsets, and depending on where you’re skating, you can glide straight down to the beaches and see dolphins, whales and other northern sea life. And if you go in the right time of year - say, early April, when it also happens to be full of fresh Spring snow - you can also see the Northern Lights in the sky at night.
Nighttime skiiing is a popular activity in Iceland, and for good reason. The sun doesn’t seem to go down in northern Iceland, which means you can stay out as late at midnight without darkness necessarily overtaking the landscape, depending on the time of year. And when it does get dim, the moonlight reflects on the glistening snow, making for a beautiful sight. Bring your camera - Iceland is a picturesque dream to visit. Be sure to schedule some time in your trip to visit a hot spring before you leave.
You have open terrain
Unlike a number of popular heli-skiing locations where forests grow along the mountainsides, the northern Iceland territory is almost entirely devoid of trees and plant life. When you drop from the helicopter and start sliding down the slopes, there’s virtually nothing in your way to dodge or slow you down. It makes for a great run, and you can easily speed down the mountains unimpeded by obstacles. It makes for an exciting trip and reduces your chances of crashing and burning.
I invite new heli-skiiers to explore Iceland. I invite experienced skiiers to explore Iceland. With a magical landscape, remote and open mountains, almost endless daylight and beautiful powdery snow, it’s a worthwhile vacation you don’t want to miss.