To gain experience as a guide, during the IWG training you are required to work with two companies, totalling 5 – 6 weeks. You offer your services for free in return for the experience.
I spent my first practical training at Saija Lodge – a husky farm near Taivalkoski in Finland. For my second practical training I spent 2 weeks working at Upitrek – an outdoor company in Finland specialising in a range of skiing trips.
I assisted on the Russian Border Skiing Tour and the Kalevala Skiing Tour. Both are guided hut-to-hut cross-country skiing trips. You are lead by an experienced guide who is skiing with you and also a snowmobile driver at the front, taking food for the day and also making the ski tracks. The Russian border trip is slightly easier and you ski an average daily skiing distance 20 km. The Kalevala is for more experienced skiers, and you ski on average 40 km a day, covering 230 km throughout the week.
I worked alongside an experienced guide named Petri, and he taught a wealth of valuable guiding lessons. It was a pleasure to work alongside him and see how he guided, in his gentle, knowledgeable way. Of the many things he taught me, the one lesson that stuck in my head was:
“Be yourself when you are guiding. Sure, learn from other guides but find your own style.”
The trips were incredible, well planned, experienced guides, comfortable sleeping arrangements, good food and most of all you skied through some beautiful Finnish nature. As I am writing the trip report almost 2 years after I completed it, I will let the photos below tell the story.