Journeying coast to coast through mountainous terrain and frigid temperatures, Jordan Rosen’s seventh trip to Iceland was an adventure to remember.
Jordan is a California based photographer who captures gorgeous images all over the world. He’s got a particular fondness for the Arctic. From off-road driving (Overlanding) to ski mountaineering, he enjoys the thrill of the outdoors that comes along with his job.
Jordan has always been a bit of an adventure seeker. After playing NCAA D1 Lacrosse at Hofstra University, he graduated college. He flipped his life upside down by dropping job offers and taking a trip to New Zealand with a small camera in hand and his heart on his sleeve.
“I took splendidly horrible photos, that, upon review, failed to help spark actual memories from my trip. I wanted to change that. I wanted to make images that helped me remember this trip, and if possible, that sparked the curiosity of my friends so that maybe they wanted to come with me next time,” said Jordan.
Even though Jordan left the lacrosse world behind, the athlete inside of him was quite restless. After college, he ventured into the world of triathlon and ski mountaineering.
Professional photography became an option when he had the opportunity to shoot photos of his friends who were competing in Triathlons and skiing professionally. He developed a portfolio and brands began to find him. Jordan’s photography focuses on landscapes and prominent wild places while showing human interactions with those landscapes. He takes gritty yet approachable images and identifies as a “mountain athlete with a camera” who is inspired by the fantastic athletes around him. He now shoots for some of the most elite outdoor brands in the world.
Intending to venture from north to south completely over-snow, in the dead of Icelandic winter, this dangerous trip required a lot of planning and preparation to become a viable reality. Jordan was accompanied by several of his friends, including Steve Lewis, a commercial arctic logistics expert, Palmi Baldursson, one of the world’s best arctic drivers, and Keree Smith, a fierce ski guide. “This combination of extremely experienced, talented people rarely leads to a bad time,” said Jordan.
In the wintertime, a lot of places in Iceland become even more remote as they are not accessible by road or even by helicopter since the weather is hard to predict. Arctic Trucks and man-powered skiing allows an adventurous thrill seeker to overcome this. “Steve frequently pushes my comfort level with trips and is candidly the whole reason this trip was able to happen safely,” said Jordan.
Jordan also looks to both Palmi and Keree to make an expedition like this possible. Palmi Baldursson is one of the best Arctic drivers in the world. He’s an Icelandic native and grew up in the Westfjords. Palmi spent three summers in Antarctica as a professional driver and mechanic. He was trusted to drive Prince Harry on a week-long expedition.
Keree is an expert ski guide who lives part-time in Alaska is confident in her abilities and herself. “Keree is fierce and can take charge of any testosterone-filled group in an instant. She isn’t a loud or commanding type of guide. She’s the calm, ‘stay with me if you want to live,’ type. She’s so calm that everyone becomes keenly aware she’s the best skier in the group…and we all pretty much grew up ski racing,” said Jordan.
The trip began as the group packed up all the food and gear that they would need for the journey across Iceland. From there, the four arctic-modified 70 Series 44-inch Land Cruisers began the drive up to the very northern edge of Iceland.“These large trucks are a part of Icelandic culture. They are one of the only ways to get around in the snow and ice,” said Jordan.
On the very start of their journey just outside of Reykjavik, one of the team’s trucks broke down on an icy road before even reaching off-road terrain. They had to tow the broken-down truck to a repair shop and consolidate everything into the remaining three trucks.
One truck short, they finally reached Siglufjordur, the small town where they’d start their journey south. The next morning, they set off, destined for a little hut where they would be spending their first three nights. Huts like these are scattered all across remote areas in Iceland, and they are usually closed during the winter months because no one can get to them, but during the summer, they can be popular places to stay.
To effectively drive over snow, the team drops the air pressure in their 44’’ tires to just 3 or 4 PSI to stay afloat on the snow with heavily laden trucks.
After a 9 hour drive over snow, roughly following Kjolur, a dirt road now buried under feet of snow that bisects Iceland, they reached their destination.
As they continued, they reached a small set of huts in the center of Iceland, near Kerlingarfjoll. “We took a few days to ski in this remote place and enjoyed the hot springs,” said Jordan. When you can’t drive, skiing is one of the only other modes of transportation in Iceland, but also poses dangers due to avalanches and frigid temperatures. Keree led the group through the severe conditions and ensured they would be safe while skiing these untouched areas of the country.
“The enormously high winds make the snowpack extremely hard to assess, and the way one aspect reads is almost no indication of another similar slope. We’re fortunate Keree is so accustomed to maritime snowpack here in Iceland, and not just Alaska,” Jordan said.
As the trip went on, the high humidity mixed with the blistering cold proved to be difficult on the equipment and cause some trouble for the team. The group had to stop multiple times along the trip to adjust the tire pressure, dig the truck out of deep snow, and chip ice out of the axels, springs, and driveshafts of the vehicles.
It takes a strong group of individuals to venture across Iceland in the wintertime. When digging trucks out of snow and prepping for the worst, you have to be able to adapt to any condition. This made the trip one that they will never forget.