Last year we added two new members to our beloved guide team, and we’re delighted that they’re both sticking with us for the 2024 season!
In today’s Guide Spotlight, we’re getting to know Sara Hlín Sigurðardóttir – pilot, lawyer and Iceland’s first female heliski guide! Sara has years of instructing experience, so she’s the person to go to if you’re looking to unlock your full potential on the slopes.
Tell us a little bit about your background and guiding history
I can still remember the pure joy of getting bright pink skis for Christmas when I was around 5 years old and the joy of looking at them while skiing. I often skied with my family in our local mountain Bláföll and later joined a ski club where I raced and later coached until I was adult. During those years I received ski-coach education from the Icelandic Ski Association and later, when I wanted to learn to travel safely in the mountains with my kids, I joined a mountaineering school. Since then I have finished the first level of three in Hard Ice Glacier Guiding, Alpine Trekking Guiding and Ski Guiding with the Association of Icelandic Mountain Guides. This somehow led me into guiding which I do part time along my full-time job as an airline pilot.
What have you been up to during the summer?
My husband and I love taking our three boys on big adventures. This summer we took them to Nepal for a month where we hiked in the Himalayas and travelled around the country. We also managed to spend some days camping and hiking in Iceland which is always our favourite thing to do in the summer.
What’s your favourite thing about being a heliski guide?
First of all, I love the flying part! I took my first flight lesson when I was 16 and there was no turning back. I later worked as a flight instructor and loved flying over mountains looking for good ski-lines. Heliskiing therefore is an obvious life-hack! Flying often brings out similar feelings in me as skiing. The speed and distance you can cover, the various landscape and views. Also being out in nature and having to tackle all kinds of weather and conditions.
Likewise, using the helicopter gives you the option to reach slopes and peaks that you could not easily get to by hiking and allows you to cover much more area than otherwise would be possible.
Do you have a day that sticks out as being the most memorable as a guide? Tell us about it!
I got to be a part of a great project called “Kvennadalshnúkur” (Kvenna- meaning female) going to the highest peak of Iceland called “Hvannadalshnúkur”. Around 20 female guides took 100 women up the 2110 m glaciated Hvannadalshnúkur peak to raise money and awareness for a good cause. All women reached the top safely and afterwards we had a great celebration party. The hike took 12-16 hours and during a particularly difficult part, some colleagues of mine circled right above us on a Boeing 757 jet to show support. That was a memorable moment!
What do you like most about skiing in Iceland?
The spring corn snow which renowned well-travelled skiers say is one of the best in the world!
Do you have a favourite ski run in the Troll Peninsula? Which one is it, and why do you like it so much?
There are so many great runs but my favourite is skiing from Hvannadalabyrda down into Hvanndalir. Hvanndalir is a very remote valley only accessible by either boat or a difficult hike. In the old days when available land was scarce, people lived in this valley surviving harsh conditions. In 1896 the closest municipality bought the land in order to leave it deserted. We will share some of the survival stories if we ski down into Hvannadalir.
What would be your number one piece of advice for someone going heliskiing for the first time?
I would advise people to give some thought to which skis and boots they bring. It is not guaranteed that the same equipment you use for groomed slopes in organised ski-areas or ultralight equipment used in ski-touring are the best fit for heliskiing. Think ahead and rent equipment if needed in order to get the most out of your day.
Well, if you’re thinking about joining Sara and the team for the heliski experience of a lifetime, don’t forget that we at Summit will provide you with a pair of our Blizzard Rustler skis as standard with your package! We chose them specially for the local conditions and we’re sure you’ll love them as much as we do.
Don’t forget to keep up with us on instagram! @SummitHeliskiing