We asked a seasoned guide about the best tips for seasonal workers coming to Lapland for winter. With four years at Bliss Adventure under her belt, Pirita Sihvo offers her advice.
Pirita Sihvo first came to Lapland to do her practical training at Bliss Adventure in Pyhä.
– The people at Bliss Adventure asked after the training whether I wanted to come back the next winter, and I answered yes. Since then, I have worked for Bliss in Helsinki during the summers. I had been telling them for the two previous years that if there is work to be had, I can stay in the north. Now our office at Luosto was open for the first time in the summer, Sihvo says.
Even though work at Bliss is part-time when the ground is thawed, there’s no shortage of things to be done. Sihvo worked during the summer for five different companies in the fell area, doing whatever work needed doing.
– When you do good work in one place, word gets around.
This coming winter, you can find this wilderness guide yet again leading Bliss Adventure’s ice climbing activities and other outdoor activities and working in the kitchen of the company’s Pyhä Wurst ski slope restaurant. However, she no longer needs to live seasonally out of a backpack. Instead, she found her home in Pyhä.
– I originally came to Lapland to experience real winter. I love winter and think that there needs to be snow in the winter. I’m from Mäntyharju and spent my childhood in Southern Finland in the 1990s, when there was still snow. Once the snow line moved northward, I started wondering what I’m doing here with no hobby opportunities.
She has collected a few tips over the years that new seasonal workers might find useful. Some things, like working closely with different kinds of customers, can only be developed over time, but other things she thinks you can prepare for right now.
1. No need to fear the polar night
– When I left for Lapland, everyone kept saying that the polar night makes you depressed and I need to remember to take my vitamin D. The brightness of the polar night surprised me because the snow, moon, stars and Northern Lights all bring light. Now it’s my favourite time of winter. It’s darker in Helsinki with the black ground. The polar night there is the depressing kind.
2. Dress warm
– In the first winter, I had thought that I’d packed warm clothes, but that equipment did not keep me warm throughout a whole day in the winter frost. I had been on a holiday in Lapland in the winter, but never the whole winter and outdoors for eight hours per day in 30 degrees below zero. That southern stuff didn’t quite do it, but luckily I found some merino wool clothes and a pair of warm shoes in Kide Shop.
3. Keep an open and adventurous mind
– When you come here, you should take full advantage of all these recreational opportunities. Many just end up going to work and then watching Netflix at home or sitting at bars. This makes the winter just flash by. You should come here with the mentality that you’re going to do things from the start. Of course the work is taxing, and you also need to rest, but don’t accidentally lock yourself at home for the whole winter.
4. Be flexible and take care of yourself
– When you’re a guide, your working hours are not from 8 am to 4 pm, and you don’t get your lunch break at the same time every day. You need to be flexible when customers come at a tight pace. You also need to take care of yourself to be able to work in the environment where you are at the time. This may include things like having chocolate and nuts in your pocket. Our company is so small that customer jobs can sometimes come at a really quick pace. You need to prepare for not knowing when you get home from work.