Having an office with mountain views is usually pretty great, but on post-storm days like today, with fresh snow from summit to sea, and blue skies overhead? I can almost hear my skis crying out for adventure!
As we hold out for a deeper snowpack and more stable conditions, we’d like to take some time to showcase some of the fantastic people who make it possible to do what we do here at Summit Heliskiing. We’ll kick off this interview series with our one and only head guide, Leifur Örn.
Tell us a little bit about your background and guiding history.
I have been guiding for 35 years. I was one of the first guides to lead groups ski touring around the Troll peninsula and on the high volcanoes on the south coast of Iceland.
What have you been up to during the summer?
This summer has been busy for me. I did some mountaineering in Iceland straight after the skiing season – it is popular among a small group of Icelanders to climb the 100 highest peaks on the island and many of those peaks are isolated and hard to climb. Then, I was in Greenland from July until the beginning of August, and afterwards I went trekking in the Dolomites of Italy. I climbed Kilimanjaro, and then went back to the Dolomites for trekking and some “via ferratas”. Now I’m mountain biking in Finale Ligure for a few days before I go trekking in Nepal.
What’s your favourite thing about being a heliski guide?
In general skiing is fun and being able to work as a heliskiing guide is a privilege that I’m thankful for.
Do you have a day that sticks out as being the most memorable as a guide? Tell us about it!
There are so many days that I will remember for life. There is instant happiness floating in soft snow and the long-term fulfillment of climbing the highest peaks on earth, but I find it really pleasant returning to the same locations again and getting to know the local people.
What do you like most about skiing in Iceland?
Seeing the ocean and the long daylight hours.
Do you have a favourite ski run in the Troll Peninsula? Which one is it, and why do you like it so much?
They all have their charm and it feels almost wrong to choose one in favour of another. Inland, you get the feeling of remoteness with endless horizon of peaks. In some places you have convex slopes that slowly reveal the scenery as you advance, or long continuous steep stretches, or a complex variety of shifting angles. Then there’s the excitement of leaving an exposed summit and taking the first turn on steep slope, or effortless floating, seemingly forever on a long gentle run. They all have their time.
What would be your number one piece of advice for someone going heliskiing for the first time?
Relax, enjoy the moment and accept that you are hooked on this activity for life.
If you’re feeling inspired by Leifur’s adventures (we know we are), give him and Summit Heliskiing a follow on Instagram!