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.