Our CEO, Per Brochmann, joined this year's Svalbard Guide Training course, and shares the experience with us.
Being out in Svalbard's mighty landscapes is something that would take any one’s breath away. At the same time, this is also the High Arctic, with rough weather, unpredictable wildlife and extensive regions without mobile coverage. In other words: You do not go on a tour here without proper knowledge and understanding of field safety.
As a tour operator on Svalbard, we have a special responsibility to safeguard the nature, wildlife, cultural heritage – and of course, the safety of our guests. Out in the field, this great responsibility rests with the guides. Many of Hurtigruten Svalbard's guides have undergone the Svalbard Guide Training Course ('Svalbard Guideopplæring' – SGO). This basic course covers all requirements set by the local tourism industry and the official regulations for the profession of Svalbard guides.
But why on earth would a CEO complete a week of guide training? "Mainly out of personal interest, but not least to learn about the guide's role, both as a storyteller and how we behave in nature here on Svalbard", Brochmann explains.
The week was divided into three modules. Module 1 covers the role of the guide, an introduction to scientific research in the region and a section on the history of Svalbard. This theoretical part gave us many tools to help create an educational environment out in the field and to convey the importance of taking care of our unique wilderness and the cultural artefacts found in it. Module 2 focussed on safety. "Here we received thorough training and practical experience in everything from first aid to polar bear safety", Brochmann says. The last part of the course, Module 3, was completed as a 3-day field course out in the untouched wilderness.
"The field course was an experience", Brochmann concludes. Long days of safety and rescue exercises, both in avalanche and glacier environments, did not end just because the evening approached. One of the nights was spent in a snow cave – and those don’t dig themselves! Another night was spent in a tent. "Staying in a tent in minus 35 degrees really gives you the opportunity to check that you have the right equipment."
Add to that the fact that everyone had to take their turn on polar bear watch during the night! "There was not much sleep. But my passion for Svalbard, and being out in the majestic landscape, gives me new energy in my otherwise hectic everyday life", Brochmann says with sparkling eyes.
Is he fully trained as a guide now? "Not at all", Brochmann emphasises. "Now several tours with experienced guides await, with me as an apprentice, before I can get authorisation as a guide". Basic education is one thing, but experience in the field is the most important quality needed to guide our guests here on Svalbard.
Read more about our guides here.
Welcome to Svalbard and an experience of a lifetime!