Six skiers, a family of four and two young men, had been above the skiing area in Mount Hlídarfjall near Akureyri, northeast Iceland, almost on the top of the mountain, when an avalanche fell on Sunday. No one was harmed.
“We stayed calm while it was happening, but of course we knew how it could have ended,” family father Halldór Halldórsson told Morgunbladid.
The skiers had been on a 100-meter-wide snow raft, which came loose and slid 70 meters down the mountain slope before it came to a halt.
“We were on top of the avalanche when it fell, so we just stood on it and were never buried in snow,” Halldórsson explained. “My boys [ages eight and 11] were unbelievably calm,” he added.
The skiing area near Akureyri was open all weekend. Many skiers take a lift as high up in the mountain slope as they can and walk to the top of the mountain and slide down from there. Halldórsson said he has done this kind of off-piste skiing many times before.
“There has probably been a lot of accumulation of snow up there, which I didn’t realize earlier because there wasn’t much snow further down in the mountain,” Halldórsson said.
Director of Hlídarfjall skiing area Gudmundur Oddur Jónsson, said skiers are warned about the threat of avalanches in the skiing area in general, but not in that particular area. Jónsson added the skiers should have realized it could be dangerous to go there because of the weather conditions over the weekend.
“When snow drifts have been created and then the temperature rises suddenly the danger of avalanches increases. Those were the weather conditions yesterday and therefore the avalanche fell,” Jónsson explained.