Please note that we use the word “trip” to refer to all of our courses and guided trips
Will I need to sign a waiver?
All Island Alpine Guides courses and trips take place in an outdoor, wilderness environment. This means that as a participant you will be encountering various risks, dangers, and hazards, some of which include avalanches, cornices, crevasses, cliffs, trees, creeks, rockfall, difficult travel conditions, weather, illness, equipment failure, wild animals, becoming lost as well as the possibility of mistakes being made by IAG guides and instructors. To participate in these activities you will be required to read and agree to our waiver as part of the registration process. You will also be required to sign the waiver at the start of the course or trip. In doing so you will waive or give up certain legal rights including the right to sue or to claim compensation following an accident
Are these the only trips you offer?
No, we will happily organise a customised trip for you or a group based on your specific abilities, objectives and budget. Get in touch to discuss your ideas.
When do you run your trips?
Some of our more popular trips are pre-scheduled, although many are set up based on specific customer requests. If you don’t see any dates scheduled for a trip that you’re interested in, get in touch and we’ll work with you to set one up based on your preferred dates along with our guide availability, which we’ll then promote in order to try to reach our required minimum group size (unless you’re wishing to take the trip privately with just you or your group).
Do you offer private trips?
Yes. Our advertised prices are based on specific guest-to-guide ratios. However, any of our trips may be taken privately, either with just you or a group. Get in touch to find out the cost of the trip you're interested in based on the number of people in your group.
How much notice do you require to set up a new trip?
We have a limited number of qualified guides here on Vancouver Island, with our schedule often filling up during the peak times of summer and winter. The more notice you can provide, the more chance we'll have of being able to organise something on your preferred dates. If you're wishing to set up a public trip with other seats we need to fill, having more notice also allows for sufficient time for others to sign up. If it's a private trip you're looking to set up for just you or your group, midweek dates usually have more last-minute availability. In any case, we'll always do our best to make it work. The bottom line is that the earlier you book, the better the chance we have of being able to make your trip happen.
When will I know all the details of my trip, such as meeting time and place?
Unless you're booking a private trip, all of our trips require a minimum number of guests signed up in order for them to run at the advertised price. As soon as your trip has enough bookings, we'll send out a group email to confirm it as going ahead. We'll send another email containing all the details (such as meeting time and place) approximately 1 week prior to the trip starting date. The group email is also to help with participants reaching out to each other to coordinate carpooling and any other logistics. If, at 1 week prior, your trip doesn't have enough bookings, we'll be in touch to let everyone know their options. (More on this under "What is your booking policy?")
What equipment do I need and how do I prepare?
All our trips have an information package available as a downloadable PDF at the bottom of the booking page, with lots of helpful information to help you prepare, including a detailed equipment list. We will also send out a group email approximately 1 week prior to the trip starting date to confirm any extra details. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any specific requests or if you need clarification on anything.
Do you offer catering on your trips?
We offer catering on many of our trips. For multi-day trips, the cost is an extra $60/person/day. For day trips, a catered lunch is $20/person. Please get in touch to find out if your trip has this option.
Do you rent camping equipment?
We can provide a tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag or backpack to anyone who requires it, for an additional $10/item/day.
What is your booking policy?
Trips must be paid in full in order to confirm your spot. Each trip is based on specific guest-to-guide ratios, requiring a minimum number of registered participants for them to be able to go ahead at the advertised price. We will confirm the trip with you as soon as it has enough bookings, and will then be in touch approximately 1 week prior to the trip starting date with all the details, such as meeting time and place. If a trip cannot go ahead due to insufficient numbers, you will be given the option to:
1) reschedule the trip for a later date to allow more time for others to sign up,
2) go ahead with the trip at the lower group number for an appropriate price based on our ratios,
3) keep your credit on file with us for a trip at another time, or
4) receive a full refund.
What is your cancellation policy?
Cancellations received in writing up to 45 days prior to the trip starting date will result in a 97% refund. Between 45 and 30 days prior to the trip starting date, 75% can be refunded. Within 30 days of the trip starting date, the trip is completely non-refundable. However, if you are able to fill your spot with another participant, we will keep your credit on file, which can be transfered to any trip of your choice with no expiry. We charge a $25 admin fee in these cases. We ask that you thoroughly understand and consider the cancellation policy prior to booking as we make financial commitments to our guides and begin incurring costs upon confirmation. We also suggest purchasing trip cancellation insurance (see below)
Do I need trip cancellation insurance?
Upon confirmation by IAG that your trip is running, we confirm the work with our guide/s and enter into a financial obligation with them. Unless you provide adequate notice as outlined in our cancellation policy above, we cannot refund your payment (except for condition stated below under “What happens if my trip is cancelled by Island Alpine Guides”). We understand that unforeseen issues arise, so we strongly recommend that trip cancellation insurance is purchased to cover for the possibility of your not being able to participate. This is available from a number of travel insurance sellers. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding our policy or obtaining insurance.
What happens if my trip is cancelled by Island Alpine Guides?
Upon confirmation by IAG that your trip is running, we guarantee the trip departure. If we cancel a trip for any reason prior to the start date, a full refund will be provided. If we are forced to cancel a trip for any reason after the trip start date, a full refund for the unused portion of the trip will be provided.
Do I need medical/evacuation insurance?
If you are a resident of BC and are covered by the Medical Services Plan this should cover your medical care needs. If you are not covered by MSP you'll need to check that whatever coverage you have will work for you on our trips and courses. Regarding emergency evacuation we recommend evacuation insurance if you are participating in a wilderness-based course as having a private evacuation option in hand can make for better outcomes in some cases rather than just relying on publicly available options. If you are purchasing any kind of medical or evacuation insurance be sure that it covers all the activities you will be undertaking with us. Travel on snow in avalanche terrain and roped travel are both things to look out for as some insurance policies specifically exclude these things.
What happens with my trip in the case of poor weather?
Unless it is unsafe or impractical to do so, trips operate rain or shine. The decision to cancel based on poor weather will be made by IAG. It is the nature of the outdoors that the weather will not always be perfect. Come prepared and ready to enjoy whatever nature gives us. If your trip involves air access, and flying is precluded by weather or any other cause, your trip will be relocated to a non-air access location and you will be refunded the aircraft portion of the trip. If your trip requires a certain amount of snow, the decision as to whether the snow coverage is adequate will be made by IAG. If it is deemed insufficient, we will cancel the trip and you will have the following options:
1) reschedule the trip for a later date
2) keep your credit on file with us for a trip at another time, or
3) receive a full refund
What happens if I'm unable to complete the trip due to physical limitations?
Health and fitness are the responsibility of each participant. We will do our best to recommend programs to participants that are suitable to their level of fitness, but ultimately it is each participant’s responsibility to choose an appropriate program. IAG reserves the right to disqualify participants from a program if they are found to be unable to participate. There can be no refunds in these situations.
Do I need touring gear for AST courses?
Our AST courses require you to travel both up and down on the snow. If your course is at Mount Cain, you will need touring gear (alpine touring, splitboard or telemark) as it's not possible to ride the T-bar with snowshoes. If it’s at Mount Washington, you may use snowshoes if that’s your preference—whether for the uphill portion only with your skis or snowboard strapped to your back for the downhill, or for the entire duration of the course, both uphill and downhill. If you are looking to get into backcountry touring and don't own any equipment of your own, Ski Tak Hut in Courtenay offers 25% off backcountry rentals for all IAG customers while on one our trips. It's a great way to try it out before you commit.
I am under 19 years of age. Can I participate in trips going into snow covered avalanche terrain?
As per industry standard, we will only take minors into terrain where avalanche hazard may exist if they are accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. We believe that signing up for a trip or course with your parent or guardian is a great way for you to "speak the same language" when engaging in discussions about these risks after the course. Another alternative is to sign up for one of our youth specific courses or trips which modify the terrain travelled to stay within industry standards.