We took a second to sit down with Bryan Finocchiaro [Fino] to chat about his 2 week adventure to Iceland. Here is his story ...
"We shared a lot with each other and learned a lot about each other. 2 weeks in an RV
with a bunch of dudes, you see and hear it all. No boundaries and defining some, a few pranks, jokes and harassment was what kept us going," says Fino. "Beautiful untouched lines, wrong turns and accidents, kept us on our toes and itching for more. All 4 of us itching for a sense of adventure, all different than the man we shared the bed with for the night. At the end of the day, that feeling of skiing, getting out of our comfort zone and embracing the unknown brought us together and has had us only wanting more."
JU: Where were you- cities/towns/mountains? When were you there? How many days?
BF: We were in Iceland! We were there for about 2 weeks (April 13, 2016 through the end
of the month). We were there at the end of their winter beginning of spring. The first 5 days we traveled south and did the “tourist” stops until we got wind of a big storm moving in up North and turned our RV around……2 weeks, 4 dudes, 1 small RV with all of our ski gear! Not much room you could imagine, all with a common bond of skiing. As for the location of where we were skiing wise….we were in ólafsfjörður and siglufjörður for the most part, the northern part of the island, just east of the west fjords.
JU: Have you ever been to Iceland before?
BF: 1 of us in the group of 4 had been there 1 year prior and acted as our “tour guide” for the southern part of our adventure. As for the skiing aspect, no one had prior experience and we all did our research of where we needed to go, the mountains, and the weather for that time of year.
JU: From a skiing perspective, what were some of the highlights? Where did you ski?
BF: Anything we experienced within skiing on that island was a highlight on or off the
slope. It was a different aspect that we lived traveling by RV living and cooking on the road, picking lines roadside and waiting for a weather window to open up to attack. Really limitless possibilities.
JU: What is the experience like for a skier?
BF: It's a culmination of everything a backcountry skier looks for everyday when going out into the backcountry. Freedom, isolation, an unlimited selection of lines at your finger tips. There were a couple times during our trip that when we reached the top of our lines we watched helicopters taking clients to similar locations where we reached by human power. 5 words to sum it up…..THE ULTIMATE HUMAN POWERED SKIING! It's a dream when you can scope the landscape 360 degrees and just see unlimited possibilities, reach the top of the line just to look over the other side of the mountain to only find more, fueling a deeper drive to keep pushing and going farther.
JU: What are the mountain like? What kind of skiing/terrain?
BF: We all discussed this at length and thankfully we had an amazing weather window, which according to an Icelandic friend, she said the best (nicest) weather she has seen in
in her entire life. We did a lot of recon, driving around looking at the mountains and all their potential. That being said, there are a few guiding services and lodges in the area, a lot of them new within the past 1-3 years that offer heli access, snow cat access. We believed it was a mix of Alaska (Big lines, some with spines), Jackson Hole (high consequence lines with mandatory drops), and a mix of the best couloir skiing in the world. We were extremely fortunate to be there when there was snow in the forecast. Believe it or not but we all had our fair share of face shots, something not really heard of when talking about skiing in Iceland.
JU: From an atmosphere perspective, what were the people like, sightseeing and highlights of the trip?
BF: Iceland is an amazing place! The people, the landscapes, the culture, everything there is stunning; maybe besides the weather but what else would you expect as a island country pretty much in the arctic circle? The people are extremely nice with an amazing sense of humor, funny accents, and very welcoming. We met a gentlemen name Tomas who really helped us out and showed a brief glimpse and the culture….it was truly amazing and he single handily made the trip for us. For sightseeing, like I said earlier, we drove throughout the entire southern part of the island. It looked like something out of a scifi movie, a different planet, the landscapes are indescribable, unless you go there yourself or see pictures. Truly breathtaking, out of this world, something everyone should try to see in their lifetime. The city of Reykjavik (capital of Iceland) is no different. Amazing architecture to go along with the beautiful natural environment. The weather is something to touch on as it is very extreme, wind, rain, clouds, all of which is very important when there to ski. Anywhere we met an Icelandic native, we also were full of smiles and laughs.
JU: What was the traveling like there? How did you get up to the mountains (skin, bus, hike, hitchhike)?
BF: A normal day for us would be myself waking up when the sun rose and began cooking breakfast for everyone, then we would start defrosting the windows and began
putting on our semi dry ski clothes for the day ahead. We would drive to a location that we scouted the day before. So a typical ski day would begin with driving to a location, then straight out of the RV, put on the skins and start up to a zone. Skinning would usually be anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours. Upon reaching a switch over area we would change from skins to ice axe and crampons. This was interesting because some zones would have perfect crampon ice that we could walk right up and others had fresh snow which was hip to tit deep and setting the track was no easy feat.
JU: What makes this place so special for an adventurer?
BF: Ha, what ever your degree of adventure is, you can cater it here. Sightseeing from the car, hiking, engaging people, camping, hotel living, food, art, culture, the culmination of all these plus much more, especially when the weather is on your side makes this place so special. You NEED a 4x4 vehicle though no matter what when traveling out of the city. Hey, even if you stay in the city and like to engage in the night life, Reykjavik is the spot, regarded as the number one party city in Europe. Let's say we had a very late night on our final day and it did not disappoint. We parked the RV on a side street and all went out and some of us until the sun rose the next morning hahaha.
JU: Was there anything about the trip that really stood out to you, that you will never forget? Will take you back there?
BF: Everything!!! For me personally, something that stood out was of course the skiing.
We bagged numerous first descents and the best part was that it was all mainly (98%)
done by human power. One line in particular was the Gwendalini Couloir, which was named after a new Icelandic Search and Rescue volunteer we met that was extremely funny and whose accent resembled Borat. This guy if, you ask many on this trip, was one of our favorite people we met.
People on this trip: Grant Henley, John Bukac, Bryan Finocchiaro, and Scott Bellow (The photographer and only snowboarder).
Cover photo- S: Bryan Finocchiaro & Grant Henley | P: Scott Bellow