Momentum singer Hörður Ólafsson is gently chanting at me through my super-sized Sennheisers. His message is something regarding “holding back”, but the virgin powder unfolding endlessly in front of me in a mad mountainous panorama begs for deflowering and on such a bluebird day, there is nothing on God’s green earth that can hold a man from letting loose.
But allow me to backtrack to……right… about…..here! Saturday 10:30 AM at Egilsstaðir Airport. We venture into town, and after a brief stop at the local Krónan we hightail it in our shiny ride for Eskifjörður and its ski area at Oddsskarð. We do make a quick pit stop at Guesthouse Mjóeyri to suit up, where the friendly innkeeper Saevar welcomes us.
Daffi, head of operations at Oddsskarð, seems none too pleased to see us, however. Perhaps because his ambitious snow park project, featuring big jumps with up to 36-metre clearance, has all but disappeared under fresh snow, taking the plot point of this entire article with it.
Still, a powder drenched area with no lift queues and myriad backcountry possibilities—with minimal hiking involved—seems worthy enough a subject for yours truly. Definitely a top-notch option for your Easter break, unless you enjoy the endless lift lines at Hlíðarfjall and the accommodation in Akureyri that books solid weeks in advance. Given, there are only a short lift serviced children’s run and two main tows, the latter of which (the one that takes you up to the top) seems to be on permanent hiatus.
Fog, that old party crasher, makes repeated appearances throughout the day, ultimately causing an early retreat for us boarders. Back at Mjóeyri, a quaint, charming retreat at the edge of town, owner-operator Saevar hatches a game plan for Sunday. Off-piste activities are the order of the day he feels and we are all too happy to agree.
Eskifjörður itself is a village of limited possibilities as far as recreation goes. So, after winding down at the local swimming pool hot tubs, we head on over to Reyðarfjörður. It is a virtual metropolis in comparison, where one can enjoy the best pizza pie east of Reykjavík at the local pizzeria Taergesen. You can also venture next door to Kaffi Kósý, where we—along with a host of locals— break lose in boundless fits of revelry over Iceland handing Hungary their asses on the handball field. However, you shouldn’t take your business to Grillskálinn, where a sour, middle-aged clerk will ignore you or give you an evil eye.
Sunday morning is always a bastard. Well usually anyway. A mild hangover and a deep-seated disgust with getting out of bed slowly yield to the promises of a blue sky evident through the bedroom window.
The day is perfection wrapped in joyful rapture served on a gilded platter of contentment. There are still patches of unmolested cherry powder alongside the groomed runs, and a crew of local teenage huckster all garbed out in DC attire have fashioned a kicker just out of bound. All giddy like schoolgirls, we slay the powder and bomb the kicker until the moment of truth arrives—the descent of Fagridalur.
We now find ourselves back to the opening stanza of this saga. Momentum are again underscoring the majesty of the awe-inspiring scenery assaulting us from all directions. I turn their epic dirge down as Saevar, our gracious host, has instructions and warnings of waterfalls to relay. As we follow in the tracks of his Telemark skis, the 900 metre vertical descent hits us with barrels of fun and moments of danger.
We are subjected to flocks of ptarmigans, and the tracks of reindeer and foxes. The sketchiest feature is a narrow chute between cliffs that brings us down the side of the smaller waterfall and is unquestionably the scariest piece of snowboarding both Brian and I have attempted. The run ends at an abandoned farmhouse whose slanted roof I scale so that I might drop down it on my snowboard. Once topside I almost chicken out. But with Saevar and Brian—video cameras aloft— egging me on towards glory, I dot the i of this trip by launching into it feet first.