Meet our Beta Testers and Experts: Martin Indreiten — passionate about safe travels
Martin (47) lives at Svalbard with a girlfriend and young two kids. He works at The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) as Section Leader for Operations and Field Safety. What he does is planning and operating all field activity safety, being it use of large ice breaker vessels to personnel field activities on shore, both for students and staff, as well as visitors to the University of Svalbard (UNIS). Originally from Nordmøre, a mountainous region of Norway, well known for amazing skiing and hiking, Martin has been playing in the mountains as long as he can remember.
‘I was an active biathlon skier for most of my junior years. When I joined the Norwegian Armed Forces, I was introduced to avalanche training. Snow and Ice has been part of my career ever since.’ Martin tells Think Outside. ‘For a while, tourism on snow was my focus. I’ve run an event company where we had an ice hotel as well as been a guide. When I first came to Svalbard in 2003 I worked with adventure travels, guiding and organizing. In 2009 I started my current job at UNIS’
For Martin, safety whilst in the backcountry is crucial. He was a part of a group that started the avalanche safety group, part of the Red Cross Search and Rescue group, at Svalbard in 2004. IN 2015, Martin and his group has joined the Varsom.no and RegObs (the Norwegian avalanche warning system) avalanche professional community and contributes to the avalanche forecasting and warning for his region.
‘One of the perks of living at Svalbard is the awesome skiing here! You can literally skin up and start skiing from the minute you step out of your house! It’s unique! One of my favorite skiing areas are at Atom Mountain here at Svalbard, which has a year around season and you can ski in the midnight sun. It’s very alpine, and kind of looks like the Himalayas. Beautiful pointy mountains and great runs down steep mountain sides and chutes. I also love skiing in Sundalsfjella, in Innerdalen and Dronningen and Kongen mountains, two well-known great backcountry areas.’ Martin says.
We ask Martin to share some stories from his ventures in the back country: ‘Polar bears passer through your camp can make your heart jump, but I probably have been more concerned both on the sea ice (that can be scary as it constantly moves) and on glaciers. Considering avalanches, I vividly remember this one time back in 2003, where I was on a glacier course on Briksdalsbreen, one of the glaciers on the large Jostedals-glacier. We came a little too close to the mountainside, heard avalanches and ran roped-up towards the crevasse area for safety! When we got to the top of the glacier, we saw that 7 or 8 wet snow avalanches where we came from! Safe navigation is always important’.
Martin tells us about how he became familiar with Think Outside and Sknow; ‘I came across Think Outside and Sknow a little by chance. A friend had seen an add on a milk cartoon about this startup company working on new innovations in snow and avalanche field, and since my job is safety in avalanche and arctic terrain, I got curious. Innovation and technology are a focus here at UNIS, and I figured there was a bit of a win-win situation by coupling what we do with what Think Outside is doing. I will be spearheading this from our side, but I will be sharing the skis with the group. This way more people will be part of the project, and the skis will be more used, with more data acquired.’ Martin says, ‘I think new technological solutions are intriguing, but it should be coupled with usability, and most importantly general training, knowledge and awareness by the users!’ also, he continues; ‘The important part of a technological solutions such as Sknow may be, is that people have more facts to base their decisions on. My hope is that Sknow works as a good tool for better decisions in the mountains, that one is able to move in terrain safer.’
Last, but not least, Think Outside takes the opportunity to ask Martin for his advises for safe travels in the winter mountains:
‘My advises are as I tell our students here at UNIS;
- ” If you don’t know don’t go”; get local advice from local experts, read up on weather and avalanche forecast.
- ” If the snow is the problem, then the terrain is the solution”; if the avalanche danger is high or you have a complex avalanche problem stay away from avalanche terrain, terrain traps and run out zones. Play in safe and simple terrain. Learn to read and use the terrain for safe travel.
- ” Human factor”; one of the main reasons for avalanche incidents and accidents are wrong decisions and lack of good rational based facts for decisions. Be aware of typical mistakes groups are doing when they make decisions. Join an avalanche class, it’s fun, you learn a lot and it could save your life!
Think Outside are very pleased to have Martin and his team as part of the beta-season, and are looking forward to a fruitful collaboration!