The most important element in a private guided tour is the guide, and at Ísafold Travel we do our best to select a guide that will be a perfect match for the customer. In this blog-post Einar Ólafur Matthíasson, who often leads private guided tours for us, talks about his experience during the Hard Ice training course he recently completed.
I thrive on evolution. I become bored if I can’t evolve and grow. My guiding job, if you could call it a job, has endless possibilities for expanding my knowledge and skill. Whether it be on how to cross a river or a glacier in my superjeep or how to read the client’s needs. The majority of my trips are with small private groups of two to six people. That allows me to tailor or adjust the itinerary to fit the needs and ability of my client and other factors like weather and road conditions. The tools I have for my craft are paramount for being able to adjust the trip on the go. Having to rely on others to adjust their schedule to fit mine can be a daunting task.
The Hard Ice training course I signed up for excited me on many levels. I have been on many trips on the ice with clients where we either just to a glacier walk and where an ice climb was added, so I knew what it was all about. I didn’t have the necessary knowledge needed to do what the glacier guides make look easy.
What I learned, apart from a thousand knots and millions of technical names and stuff, is how to make the visit to the glacier safe while adjusting the level of difficulty on the go to make it a bit challenging and exciting. That is the important balance. The most challenging discipline was the crevasse rescue. Having to abseil down to the client, in the crevasse and heave him up safely felt in the beginning as an impossible task but after learning the mechanics of it and with some practice it was possible.
We were on the glacier for four days with our teachers literally showing us the ropes. On the third day I started feeling more surefooted on the ice than on the gravel leading to and from the glacier. You get a special connection with this otherworldly surface. As soon as I came of the ice I couldn’t wait to get back on it the next day.
On my first trip after the training I was supposed to go onto a glacier with three clients on a day where it was raining cats and dogs and the visibility was zero, which isn’t optimal for glacier hikes. Because of my newly acquired skill I could choose another glacier further east the next day. The hike was magical with the setting sun reflecting in the smooth and bare ice. A perfect day.
Einar Ólafur – Certified guide