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Discussion: Skiing

in: Samantha; Samantha > 2016-11-15

Nov 15, 2016 10:35 PM # 
I once planned a trip to do some downhill skiing there, but changed plans. All the hot springs will be great in the winter.
Nov 15, 2016 10:54 PM # 
Few years back I was there in late September beginning of October and their official tourists season was almost over, a lot of places were empty or closed.

So, I think it's gonna be cold and a lot of snow out there, especially in the mountains. Roads are closed there for the winter, only major ones are maintained, so, check roads conditions/closures before you start driving (there is a web site with such info). Hot springs should be fun to relax. Downhill skiing is an option in the North (Akureyri region), not sure about XC-skiing. Monster snow-trucks in the winter I think is a blast.
Nov 16, 2016 12:10 PM # 
There may also be dog-sledding. One of the guys who organized a lot of the orienteering there was a dog-sled dude.
Nov 16, 2016 1:18 PM # 
Ooh! I have no recommendations...but that sounds exciting!
Nov 16, 2016 2:42 PM # 
Maybe you've seen this link by now? It might point out some possibilities that suit you.
Iceland is very keen on catering to its tourists. I'd guess in winter, too -- though far fewer of them. Quite dark at the Arctic Circle but that has its own uniqueness (for awhile, anyway).
Nov 16, 2016 8:39 PM # 
My four day trip was in June, so weather conditions may vary (though perhaps only by about 10-15 C - Iceland climate data). As I was constrained by time, I opted for a reconnaissance of the Snæfellsnes peninsula with an emphasis on trail runs. I suspect you could replace trail runs with skis and have a similar itinerary, though with fewer mountains. I camped the whole time I was there, which may not be as comfortable in the winter. I don't know how accessible Snæfellsnes will be during the winter, but what I saw from my brief exploration was amazing. The westernmost tip of the peninsula has the Snæfellsjökull volcano, a traverse or circuit of which would be a quite extraordinary adventure on skis.
Nov 16, 2016 10:04 PM # 
The Snæfellsnes peninsula is pretty great, but please note that if you go you must call it Snuffleupagus. Exclusively. Even when talking to locals.
Nov 16, 2016 10:08 PM # 
Seconded on Snæfellsnes.
Nov 16, 2016 10:16 PM # 
Sexy Icelandic mountain terrain is sexy:
Nov 16, 2016 10:26 PM # 
Also beware the scarcity of gas stations.
Nov 16, 2016 10:57 PM # 
and baboons. They, too, are scarce.
Nov 17, 2016 6:40 AM # 
Pink Socks:
The Snæfellsnes peninsula is pretty great, but please note that if you go you must call it Snuffleupagus. Exclusively. Even when talking to locals.

I thirded Snæfellsnes on your Facebook!

What's funny is that Gina and I always called it Snuffleupagus on our 2010 trip (when we skipped it), but we always pronounced it correctly in 2016 when we actually went there!

Also beware the scarcity of gas stations.

This probably won't affect Ross and Sam, coming from Europe, but I'll mention this for other Americans who are planning on going. We couldn't get our credit cards to work at the gas pumps on either trip. There was an easy workaround at N1 gas stations, though. We'd go in and buy gas cards from the counter, and then use them at the pump. However, we always had to make sure that we had a gas card with some funds on it, because if we needed to fill up after the counter closed and we had an empty card, we didn't really have another option.
Nov 17, 2016 6:53 AM # 
Curious; I never had trouble using my credit card at the gas station - though because I lacked a chip, I had to sign my name every time I used it. Perhaps one day, the US will have a first world banking system.

But my lack of trouble is probably because Boston is better than Seattle.
Nov 17, 2016 7:02 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Yeah, I can't explain it. After our troubles in 2010, I even went to our bank before the 2016 trip to make sure that we had a PIN set up on our chip and all of that... and still didn't work. But we use a VISA card from our local credit union, so that's probably the reason.
Nov 17, 2016 7:06 AM # 
Might be better now with the US having chip cards?

Also, this reminds me of a time in NZ when we arrived at the gas station 10 minutes after it closed. Even though they were still there, they wouldn't let us pay with card. And the auto pay was broken. I ended up walking around the nearby bar asking locals if they had any gas in a can that they might want to sell us.
Nov 17, 2016 7:10 AM # 
Yeah, I think our cards should work ok - we also each have one with a pin from Sweden and one with a pin from the US.

Snuffelupagus has come highly recommended but I also read (in one place) that it's hard to drive there in the winter. I think in general Ross and I have to be willing to lose money on an accommodation for a night in case we can't get through. Though maybe if they are nice people they will understand and refund? I can look more into that when booking! I am still super super excited about ice caves, and the best ones are in the south west. It is possible to spend two days driving to the south-east, and then two days driving up and back from Snuffelugagus, but that plan could be weather dependant.

Aren't the roads like mountain roads up in Snuffelupagus? And will the varied and different terrain be at all visible anyway when ti's covered in snow?

We won't being skis because I don't fancy lugging them there :) And trail running would be... challenging :) I think we can run around the city on the day(s) we are there, but that is probably it.
Nov 17, 2016 7:32 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Thing is, we had a chip card in 2016. Sounds like it's maybe with our bank or something.

I think everywhere has the possibility of being difficult to drive in the winter. As I'm writing this, the entire north part of the country looks nutro, so... don't go there.

I figure Snaefellsnes would be the safest non-Reykjavik option in the winter because a) it's not that far away, and b) the road goes all the way around the peninsula, so you can avoid mountain passes.

For our April trip, we had a compact car with summer tires (they *just* swapped them from the winter ones before we picked it up). Anything that's red on the link above is impassable, obviously. Pinks were bad news, too. Yellows and light blues were ok. Whites were fine as long as they were plowing. It looks like there are some purples right now, which would also be impassable for a standard car. I don't remember about the dark blues, though, we didn't see many of those.
Nov 17, 2016 11:45 AM # 
Most of the red lines on that map look like they're the interior mountain tracks that are 4WD only in summer and closed all winter.
Nov 17, 2016 6:08 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Most of them, yes. Any road with an F prefix (eg: F300) usually means that there's a river ford required at some point, so it's a definite no-go in a rental car, even the four-wheel drive rental cars.

The mountain passes will get red, too. In April, we watched some roads turn red, and others go from red to pink to white.
Nov 17, 2016 9:09 PM # 
Our credit cards ( with chip ) did not work in the pumps but the debit card did work.
Nov 19, 2016 3:44 PM # 
Is there any public transport to places?
Nov 19, 2016 4:47 PM # 
There's a decent network of busses that go lots of places that one might want to go but they don't run as often in winter (or to as many places).
Nov 20, 2016 7:23 AM # 
There are buses, but as Cristina said they run not at all or very infrequently in the winter. And although they do run outside the city in the summer, there are mixed reports about them operating in the winter.

In the end I think we decided that we have to skip Snaefellsnes this trip :( Since we're bent on seeing the ice caves in the south west, we can't also make the drive north. Maybe we could, if we spent more time in the car and have perfect weather, but it seems optimistic. We're going to do the south coast and Golden Circle and call it enough for this trip. We will just have to go back again!

The free stopover on the way home from Boston is what sold us this time. It's actually even slightly cheaper to stop rather than connect immediately through, AND they are still the cheapest tickets home for Christmas. With all the recommendations for Snaefellsnes, I can't wait to go back already! It is a 5.5 hour flight from Stockholm, though, so just as close as from Boston. Maybe some friends can meet us there sometime! Any takers?
Nov 20, 2016 11:58 AM # 
Good choice not to try to do everything, but rather focus on a few and really get to enjoy them!

This discussion thread is closed.