Standing on a boat and gazing up towards the cliffs along the fjords of Norway is one thing. Skiing down those cliffs on fresh untouched snow, is most definitely a different experience altogether.
Oscar Almgren, founder and owner of Uteguiden AS, runs an outdoor adventure company that lets customers do that, and more. With his business growing fast, I was lucky to be able to interview him, even if it was just via email. His words spring out at you and his passion for what he does is evident in his answers. I'm excited to share his story with you.
(Oscar (striped shirt) and his team doing what they do best.)
After completing his education to become a certified guide in Åre, Sweden, Oscar began working all over Sweden as a freelance guide.
“My work included heliskiing, ski touring, ice climbing, snowshoe trips, whitewater kayaking and rafting. After two winter seasons in Sweden, I got an offer to take over as chief of the ski patrol in Stranda, Norway.”
“I went over for my first winter season and fell totally in love with the area.”
Oscar spent the next four years working as a kayaking and rafting guide in Sweden in summer, and took on ski patrol work in Stranda in the winter.
During that time, I fell in love in Hedda, mother to my daughter Wilma.
Since landing the ski patrol position in Norway, his dream was to set up his own adventure company in Norway. Uteguiden, which first began in 2008 for Oscar’s freelance work became a registered company in 2012, delivering tip-top outdoor adventure experiences to clients.
Growing Uteguiden along with a growing destination
Uteguiden offers all sorts of outdoor adventure experiences, from hiking up glaciers to snowshoeing to skiing in the dark under the northern lights. They run half-day to week-long trips all over the Sunmøre Alps in Stranda.
“There are several things that make Stranda a good ski destination. The views in this area are totally mind blowing, with mountains dropping straight into the fjords. It’s just as beautiful all year around. Plus, to be able to ski powder all the way down to the fjord is something special.”
When it comes to accommodation, a very important part of the multi-day trips, Stranda has a wide selection of properties. From simple B&Bs to luxury hotels like Storfjord Hotel, travellers can pick the best option to suit their travelling styles (and wallet).
“At the moment, we mainly work with many different accommodation providers, where we are able to send our clients to stay and eat at their hotels. This has grown very much in the last couple of years and it’s important for us to find high-quality accommodation for our clients to have a good time.”
With beautiful views, ample accommodation options and a lot of outdoor adventures to be had, Oscar told me that the destination basically attracts travellers on its own.
“Often, people choose to come back when they have been here once. In the coming years, it’s really important that we, the Ålesund and Sunnmøre areas, continue to grow as a destination to keep attracting more people to visit.”
Offering more than adventure
Apart from adventure trips for avid outdoor junkies, Uteguiden also offers various courses for customers to learn how to stay safe when embarking on adventures in Norway’s snowy mountains.
“We offer everything from two-and-a-half day avalanche courses to six-day glacier courses. At the moment, most of our courses are offered in Norwegian but for this winter season, we have several instructors/guides joining us from abroad. We’re always able to offer courses in English if it’s preferable to our clients.”
“Safe travel in mountain terrains has always been important for us and we like to teach our clients how to avoid ending up in bad situations. These courses have always been really important in our Norwegian market.”
Apart from safety courses, Oscar and his team also work with filmmakers, local tourism boards like Fjord Norway and well-known outdoor brands like Peak Performance. Check out this trailer for a documentary that Uteguiden was involved in.
“We’ve always been able to be at the right place at the right time, combined with our many years in the business and the right contacts. That’s how we secured the first contract. After the first one, we established a really good reputation in the business and people started coming to us.
“We have also always had good relationships with Fjord Norway, Visit Ålesund & Sunnmøre and Visit Nordfjord. Over the years, they have been important partners and helped us with securing these contracts too.”
“We mainly operate behind the camera but you can see glimpses of me in Supervention and the ski and sail we did together with Field Productions. That was, by the way, a really great trip, where we were filming and skiing from a helicopter with blue skies and 30 cm of fresh pow.”
For me, I enjoy being able to meet interesting clients with good stories and show them around our backyard. It’s always great to see the result afterwards.
“I think I want to finish this by saying that ski films and commercials are always better on screen. A 15-minute episode on one of Warren Miller entertainments ski films is 11 days out in the mountains, and a lot of that time you wait for the right light, the right snow etc. Film and photo aren't as glamorous as it may look.”
Working with TrekkSoft to manage rapid growth
“I first heard about TrekkSoft at a meeting with Fjord Norway and after a couple more meetings, we decided to give it a go. The biggest advantage of TrekkSoft is the ability to partner with other companies and sell each others’ products. For us, we were happy to have our products at the tourist information points in Ålesund.”
We’ve grown really fast in the past couple of years and now face challenges around that. TrekkSoft has given us a good platform to support our growing business.
“For us, it’s good to have a system that can handle large amounts of different trips at the same time. Many of our trips in the winter are custom made trips and it’s still possible to use TrekkSoft to manage them.”
“Keep pushing on! The more you put in it the more you will get out of it. And finally, stick to your plans! Starting a business is always a lot of learning, I learn a new thing every day.”
Let TrekkSoft help you grow your business just like how we helped Oscar.
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.