IAG Updated COVID-19 Practices

Posted on Aug 25, 2021

With the reintroduction of the indoor mask mandate for British Columbians on August 25, 2021, we at IAG feel it is our responsibility to our customers and our community to readjust our practices to help limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Though our trips take place outdoors, we now ask once again that our participants remain two meters or more apart whenever possible. For instances where participants are unable to do so, we ask that participants also bring along a mask. This is to be worn in any instance where maintaining the recommended two metres is impossible around those who are not in a cohabiting group. 

Following is our full and current COVID-19 Practices Statement:

IAG Updated COVID-19 Practices 2021/08/25

All participants in IAG trips and courses must read and abide by the following as a condition of participation in our trips and courses:

* Please do not attend a course or trip if you feel unwell or have had a COVID-19 exposure. IAG will offer a full credit to make this easy for you to do.

* We ask that all participants bring along an ample supply of hand sanitizer and practice diligent hand hygiene when on our trips and courses.

* We require that participants and staff, whether vaccinated or not, wear a mask if they are indoors (including inside vehicles or aircraft) with other participants who are not in their cohabiting group and outdoors if they must be closer than two meters from a person who is not in their cohabiting group. Participants must bring a mask with them on their trip or course for this purpose.

* If you display symptoms within a 14 days after an IAG course or trip, or have a positive COVID-19 test, it is essential that you email to notify us of this development immediately so that we can take appropriate actions.

All participants must understand that they may still contract the COVID-19 virus despite these precautions and that precautions are subject to change in accordance with public health advice.

BC's Restart Plan - Step 3

Posted on Jul 2, 2021

As of July 1st, BC has entered Step 3 of the Restart Plan. This phase allows us to dramatically reduce the precautionary steps we take reagarding COVID-19, but there are still a few things that we require of participants on our courses and trips:

* Please do not attend a course or trip if you†feel unwell or have had a COVID-19 exposure. IAG will offer a full credit to make this easy for you to do.

* We ask that all participants bring along an ample supply of hand sanitizer and practice diligent hand hygiene when on our trips and courses.

* We will require that participants, whether vaccinated or not, wear a mask if they are indoors with other participants who are not in their cohabiting group or IAG staff. This includes flying in helicopters or driving in vehicles.

* If you display symptoms within a 14 days after an IAG course or trip, or have a positive COVID-19 test, it is essential that you email to notify us of this development immediately so that we can take appropriate actions.

Effective July 1st we will not require any pre-trip COVID-19 documentation, but we do ask for strict adherence to the above. Moving forward, we are transitionaing from a covid restrictions to a communicable disease plan to continue our efforts to protect our staff and guests.

All participants must understand that they may still contract the COVID-19 virus despite these precautions and that precautions are subject to change in accordance with public health advice.

 

IAG COVID-19 Best Practices

Posted on May 30, 2020

Island Alpine Guides Covid-19 Risk Management Practices (Updated May 26, 2021)

The following outlines a series of risk management practices which Island Alpine Guides (IAG) and its clients must follow when participating in trips and courses while the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is present. The contents of this document are derived predominantly from the advice of the BC Provincial Health Officer and industry best practices as outlined in the following two documents:

* Association of Canadian Mountain Guides - Suggested COVID-19-related Best Practices for Phased Return to Work for ACMG Members - May 13, 2020.

* BC Adventure Programs - COVID-19 Best Practices - Created by members of the Adventure Articulation Committee British Columbia Council of Articulation and Transfer (BCCAT) - April 2020

These practices are subject to change as public health advice and industry best practices evolve. All participants will be required to complete a screening, as well as read and sign an updated agreement document prior to their trip/course.

Co-Management of COVID-19 Risk

 

The responsibility for managing the spread of COVID-19 will be shared with all course/trip participants and IAG staff. Participants and staff alike must understand their personal roles and responsibilities in reducing the potential spread of the virus. Continued delivery of IAG courses and trips is contingent on following all protocols underlined herein. Participants will be excluded from activities if protocols go unfollowed.

All directives in this document are designed to manage the risk of COVID-19 but will not eliminate that risk.

Classroom Settings

 

At time of the latest update of these practices (26 May 2021), all courses that normally require indoor classroom time has been moved to a virtual format. This format will be in place until Public Health Orders (PHO) allow groups to gather indoors.

Group Hygiene

 

* Everyone on the trip/course must endeavour to stay 2 metres apart at all times

* If there is a chance of coming within 2 metres, participants must wear a mask

* All participants are required to bring an ample personal supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol, to have it on hand at all times, and to use it after any contact with any surface touched by another participant or IAG staff

* Participants must not pass food or beverages to one another unless they are members of a cohabiting group

* If entering an indoor/enclosed space, higher traffic areas, masks must be worn at all times (i.e helicopters)

* In the event of increased restrictions, IAG maintains the right to request that participants wear masks from the start of the day until the finish

*Travel *

 

* At time of writing (26 May 2021), we will accept any participants travelling from within the Vancouver Island Health Authority region

Pre-trip Communication with Participants

 

* Specific precautions will be determined and described based on the state of pandemic at the time of participation, as well as the attendant public health and industry advice

* Participants must agree to sign, understand and acknowledge the changes made to our waiver which reflect COVID-19 risk

* Participants must read and agree to these COVID-19 protocols by signing an agreement. They must also sign a declaration of health and exposiure which includes acknowledging that they have completed an approved [COVID-19 screening] <https://bc.thrive.health/covid19/en>.

* Participation will be limited to those who can attest to being well, to not having been exposed to anyone who is sick, and to not having travelled outside the country within 14 days of the commencement of the trip

* Participants in higher risk demographics (age >64 years, pre-disposing conditions) are asked not to participate at this time unless they have been vaccinated.

* IAG cancellation policy has been adjusted to allow for unforeseen changes - if IAG is forced to reschedule or cancel trips or courses because of more restrictive measures coming into place, everyone booked will be given the choice of rescheduling or receiving a full credit for anytime in the future

* If booked participants feel unwell leading up to a trip or have had a COVID-19 exposure, IAG will insist that they do not participate and will offer a full credit

* If participants are booking front-country accommodation, they must vet the viral mitigation procedures of the accommodation provider before booking

Food and Accommodation

 

* On overnight trips, participants and guides/instructors must stay in their own tent (or roofed accommodation of their own booking when applicable), unless they have been cohabiting prior to the trip

* All participants and guides/instructors must supply and cook their own meals

* Only those who have been cohabiting may share meals and cooking supplies

Rental Equipment Sanitation Procedures

 

* All company owned soft goods (ropes, harnesses, slings, etc.) will either be isolated for a minimum of three days or be washed in warm, soapy water before each trip

* All company owned hard goods (i.e. carabiners, ice axes, crampons, rock protection, avalanche safety gear, skis, ski poles, hiking poles etc.) will be either isolated for a minimum of three days or be washed in warm, soapy water prior to each trip

* All hard goods without soft material or plastic may also be sprayed with a dilute solution of bleach and water or a hospital grade bactericide/anti-virus followed by adequate drying prior to each trip as an acceptable alternative

Post-trip Communication

 

* Participants must agree to contact IAG immediately if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of their trip/course.

Should you have any questions about the contents of this document, please do not hesitate to reach out to IAG at (250) 400-2870 or info@islandalpineguides.com.

Things are Looking Up!

Posted on May 8, 2020

Finally it seems we have some light peaking over the horizon. Thanks to our collective efforts, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic that we have averted the worst case scenario and can slowly, and carefully emerge from our isolation.

Recently our Premier announced a phased plan for easing restrictions which includes our provincial parks reopening.

So is this a time to start thinking about trips into the wilderness? We think so! Indeed we think outdoor activities, in small groups and close to home here on the Island will be just the right thing to be doing. We know that time in nature is incredibly health giving and that the experiences we offer are just the thing that islanders need now for our mental and physical well-being.

Our priority is to make sure our trips operate in a way that is safe for you, our staff and our communities vis a vis the covid risk. To this end we have consulted with health authorities, our professional association and with BC College and University Outdoor Programs to establish the standards to which we will operate. With these standards in mind we've taken a detailed look at all of the trips and courses which we offer and we're pleased to say that there are plenty of trips that we can do.

With some modifications, our 3 Day Alpine Skills, Mountain Skills Fly-in, Women's Mountain Skills Fly-in, Mountain Improv, Wilderness Survival and Wilderness Navigation courses are all trips that we'll be comfortable offering from June 1st on. Whether we choose to get into helicopters on the dates planned for fly-in courses will depend on conditions at the time, but we can easily modify these trips to a walk-in location where roads take us to high enough altitude to allow for easy access to excellent mountain training locations. In addition we're happy to operate any of our hiking trips and are excited to be adding a new Mountain Travel course to our offerings. This course will have participants learning a whole range of skills on a beautiful alpine hiking traverse that will allow them to do these kinds of trips independently after the course.

We’ve put dates up on our web site for the trips mentioned above and a few others. If you do not see dates posted for a trip that you want to do, get in touch with us to discuss. If the trip or course you are proposing fits with current or forecast recommendations from public health authorities, we’ll work with you to choose dates and to post a trip for you and others to join. If you prefer to do things with just your cohabiting family or friends we can also organize custom trips.

We will not open up our rock climbing courses to mixed groups as yet because of the intensive touching of ropes and rock by everyone involved but we'd be happy to organize rock climbing for families or cohabiting groups. Just get in touch to discuss these options. We will closely monitor the situation and resume rock climbing programs for mixed groups as soon as public health advice suggests it's appropriate.

These are uncertain times. So despite our growing optimism regarding getting into the great outdoors with you again, we are going to adjust our cancellation policy to allow for unforeseen changes. If we are forced to reschedule or cancel trips or courses because of restrictive measures coming back into place due to a resurgence in the virus, everyone booked will be given the choice of rescheduling or receiving a credit. Additionally if you are not feeling well in the lead up to a trip, we'll insist that you do not participate and will make that easy for you by offering a full credit. These changes to our cancellation policy will allow everyone to dream and plan, but without financial risk.

We'll be sharing the details of our covid risk management plan with all participants pre-trip. If you'd like to receive this previous to booking a trip contact us and we'll send it out to you.

Things are indeed looking up, and so are we, toward our beautiful mountains here at home on Vancouver Island and to getting back out there with all of you!

Personal versus Societal Risk

Posted on Mar 26, 2020

As guides we are risk managers. That’s, at least in part, what we do. So we can’t help but look at the current pandemic through this lens.

We can look at the statistics and make judgements about the risks to ourselves: What are the chances that I’ll contract the virus? What is the likelihood that it will kill me? From this personal perspective the risks are relatively low for many of us.

But there’s another much larger dimension to managing this risk. It does not just impact us personally. Right now our actions can impact our families, our neighbours, our communities, our regions, our country and indeed the entire world.

When we take risks in the mountains they do have a farther reach than just ourselves. We can impact our families, our friends and the rescuers who may try to help us. But the scale of this impact still looks very small when compared to the multiplicative effect of a very contagious viral infection for which we have no medical recourse at present.

In the current risk management scenario EVERYBODY is a potential source and bearer of the risk. So our thinking needs become much larger in it’s scope. We move from the realm of the personal risk/reward decisions we make for ourselves to ETHICAL decisions that we must make because they impact EVERYONE on a local, regional, national and international scale.

All this to say, do the right thing. Now is the time that we may  have an opportunity to slow the spread of Covid 19. Listen to what the science is telling us. Stay at home, don’t congregate with others, period. And don’t engage in any activities riskier than walking which could put unnecessary burden on medical infrastructure that is certainly going to be overwhelmed.

At Island Alpine Guides what we are doing right now is staying put. We have halted operations completely. We are all staying at home. We want to be part of the solution to this problem and we want to act now to do that.

Eventually, if we can all pull together, we may manage to see our way through this thing. And we look forward to making our way back outside with all of our guests and students. We’ll do so with a whole new perspective on risk and on our interrelatedness to each other. We’ll appreciate every moment we have in nature and we’ll never forget how vulnerable we all can be.

We are in the process of reaching out to everyone who is currently booked on a course or trip with us. Given the fluidity of the situation, for now we'd like to address only trips booked between now and the end of April. We'll address trips booked for May a few of weeks before they are due to happen. Our goal, as much as possible, is to reschedule trips and courses to a later date rather than cancelling programs all together. But to be clear, anybody who feels in need of monies that they have paid for a course or trip with us will be given a refund regardless of timing with relation to our cancellation policy. We'd also ask anyone who has a cancellation insurance to check first whether that insurance might cover this situation rather than asking IAG to refund.

Take care of yourselves and each other. We can’t wait to get back outside with you!

Jan and the IAG team.