Workshops held throughout the week, delivered by local and subject matter experts;
• Climate Change and Mountain Guiding
• Regulations for guiding in Svalbard
• UNIS University and Arctic Safety Centre programs
• Rescue operations and communication in Svalbard
• Expedition planning, logistics, venues and equipment
• Glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques with pulkas/sleds
• Winter and snow camping techniques
• Camping safety strategies in polar bear country and night watches
• Polar Bear safety, risk management and best practices
• Firearm safety, training and certification practicum and resulting in completion of;
• UNIS Polar Bear Protection Course
• Rapid and cascading changes in Svalbard with Climate Change and Tourism
• Sea Ice, travel and safety protocols
• Natural hazards and increased avalanche activity
The week was a positive experience for all participants. Our presence conducting a training on Svalbard as regulations become increasingly stringent was both politically and technically important. As tour operators and guides undergo increased scrutiny, with the prime focus on preservation of the natural environment in Svalbard, we must be sure we operate in full compliance. If there are questions in regard to the regulations we will soon share, please contact the IFMGA Secretary. It’s critical that we maintain the highest standards of operating to ensure sustainable access into the future for all IFMGA guides.
At the end of the week we held a virtual global debrief with participants and TD’s to discuss next steps;
1) Updates to the Trekking and Expeditions Manual
2) Svalbard Guiding Regulations - sharing details with member associations
3) Development of content and materials for nature education and climate change
4) Compiling and sharing presentations and workshop materials with TD’s
5) Content for the IFMGA Technical Journal to be presented at the GA
6) Presentation, workshop and proposal for platform evolution at the GA
The IFMGA President and two members of the IFMGA TC participated in Svalbard with Technical Directors and delegates from Norway, Austria, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Slovenia, Switzerland, USA and the UK.
The IFMGA TC President participated virtually with TD’s from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Nepal, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland who presented at the beginning of the week and joined our global debrief on the final day.
Special thanks to our colleagues Kyrre Ostbo, Jonas Dahlstrup and Sigmond Andersen at Nortind for hosting and facilitating the workshops and the following guest presenters and instructors; Xavier Caihol (SNGM), Halvor Dannebig (Nortind), Sigmond Andersen (Svalbard Nature Guides), Martin Indreiten (UNIS Arctic Safety Centre), CHC Helicopter Service (Svalbard Rescue), Hilde Falun Strom (Hearts in the Ice).
*Polar bear populations are estimated at 21-31,000 individuals and mountain guides just under 7000