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Meet an expedition guide

Meet an expedition guide

Thomas Røsseland gives you his stories from the High Arctic

Meet an expedition guide

There is absolutely no doubt that multi-day expeditions by foot, skis, dog sled, snowmobile or kayak will provide experiences you will remember for the rest of your life. Expeditions in Svalbard are awesome and unforgettable, regardless of the season! However, when it comes to climate, clothing and safety, such trips demand good planning.
 
Thomas Røsseland is an Arctic nature guide, who has completed the recognised one-year programme Arctic Nature Guide Study. He is employed at Basecamp Explorer and has vast experience of Svalbard’s beautiful but challenging nature. He has completed many ski expeditions across large parts of Spitsbergen and guides ski and snowmobile expeditions. We asked Thomas some questions, which might help you better prepare for your trip and look even more forward to your Svalbard adventure!
 
L-P LorentzDo you have a story from an expedition you would like to share?
I once skied from the Rabotbreen glacier to the trapper station at Austfjordneset. It was a wonderful trip that took several days. A moment I’ll never forget is skiing down the Trygvebreen glacier on Atomfjella (a mountain range in Spitsbergen with hundreds of steep mountainsides and brilliant summits) with my friend. It was indescribably wonderful because we knew we would reach the trapper station in the evening after a demanding trip and a long day’s skiing.

What’s the hardest question you have been asked by a guest?
How cold is it to sleep in a tent in the wintertime? Or, perhaps, how hard is it to ski across Svalbard? Questions like this aren’t easy to answer because the answer varies so much from person to person.
 
Do you have an ‘undiscovered’ gem in Svalbard you wish to share?
Skiing through the moraine on the western side of the Mittag-Lefflerbreen glacier is a wonderful experience. Mittag-Lefflerbreen is a large glacier at the foot of the Austfjorden in the Wijdefjorden. This is a hidden gem!
 
What do you believe is a guide’s most important task?
I believe that without doubt the most important task is to ensure that we move safely in the Arctic wilderness, for the guests’ sake as well as the nature’s sake. It’s important for me that the guests feel safe, taken care of and can enjoy the trip. Good preparations and thorough planning are extremely important.

How can you as a guide and your guests on your trips contribute to taking care of the Svalbard nature?
We can ensure we always take all our rubbish out with us. We should always strive not to leave any major traces and not to disturb the animal life. As guides, these are things we always focus on. The nature in Svalbard is extremely vulnerable and moving through it requires thought and care.

What’s your favourite menu when you’re on an expedition?
Oat porridge for breakfast is a must as well as lots of coffee. During the day, chocolate, nuts and other snacks, for lunch too. It’s good to have a Drytech or soup-in-a-cup so you get something hot in your stomach. For dinner, I would say a solid portion of tasty food. Basecamp Explorer uses vacuum-packed food from Svalbard Catering, which is very good. The best of all is when my partner prepares home-made food and makes vacuum-packed portions, for instance pasta Bolognese. There’s lots of wonderful food you can take on trips if you use the time to prepare it at home before you set off.

Kristin FolslandIs there a gadget you always take with you on expeditions?
No, but I take some rope, tape, a knife and Leatherman multi-tool, map, compass and GPS, as well as a weapon for protection against polar bears.
 
Do you have a role model in the guide profession?
Yes, some of the tutors on the Arctic Nature Guide programme are very clever and have loads of experience they obligingly share.
 
How can guests prepare before they come to Svalbard?
It’s important to find out about the temperatures and weather conditions and then ensure you have sufficient suitable clothes. It’s also important to read the tour description well. The weather in Svalbard can at times be challenging and it changes quickly. The guests must be prepared for the fact that we may need to change the route during the trip if the weather and wind conditions are unfavourable. We are in a part of the world where human activity occurs on the nature’s terms. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout the entire trip.

See you in the Arctic!

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