In March of 2020, when it became evident that Covid-19 was here going to become a global pandemic, The Mountain Guides paused, closed it’s doors and formed a Response Team composed of 5 guides, 2 administrative staff and our Medical Advisor. The goal of this team was to first determine if we could deliver our services in a way that kept our guides and customers safe, and second, to develop an action plan and recommend policies and procedures that would accomplish that goal. It was 8 weeks in the development, with input from local public health officials and the National Park Service. The result was a comprehensive plan that covers everything from pre-trip communication with our clients, to procedures for disinfecting climbing shoes. We have operated under this action plan since June 15, 2020. We have guided upwards of 1200 people and we have had no known exposures to date. Our main focus for 53 years has been the safety of our clients and our staff, it remains so today, and it has helped guide our decision-making through this challenging time.
So what are we doing?
We are now very familiar with the mechanisms for transmission for this virus, and we know how best to protect ourselves. It’s not rocket science. Stay outside, do not gather in large groups, stay 6 feet or more away from people, and if that is not possible, wear a face covering. Ohh and wash your hands! But specifically, these are the most frequently asked questions we get from clients.
What is your cancellation Policy? – In May 2020, we adopted our “Worry-Free Cancellation Policy.” It states that a customer can cancel their reservation at any time for any reason and choose two options:
Option 1 – Receive a 100% credit towards a future trip.
- Credit must be used within 14 months from the date of cancellation
- Priority booking
- Locked-in pricing for 2021/2022
- No cancellation fee
Option 2 – Receive a refund
- $100 cancellation fee per participant. Please know this is not a penalty. This fee is an attempt to cover the investment that TMG has already made to run this trip. Employee time, credit card fees, land management fees.
Can I join a group?
Until we feel confident that the Coronavirus no longer poses a health risk to our staff and clients, we will no longer be mixing people from different groups or geographical areas in a group climb. What this means is that every climb that we do is a private-ish. Meaning you can climb one-on-one with your guide, get a friend or family member and climb two-to-one, or get 2 more folks and climb three-to-one and enjoy the group rate.
What about transportation?
This one is easy. The Mountain Guides does not provide transportation to or from any of it’s venues. Clients are responsible for their own transportation. While in the past we have encouraged people to carpool, now we ask that people from different households do not ride together.
How are you handling tents on overnight trips?
Our tents at Corbet High Camp are cleaned and disinfected before each use with a hydrogen peroxide solution recommended by the manufacturer. Zipper pulls and Sleeping Pads are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. They are then left to dry before the next occupants arrive. If you are on a backcountry trip, you can feel confident that those tents have been cleaned and then “rested” for 48 hours between uses. When it comes to occupying these tents, the rules are simple. Members of the same household or people traveling together can occupy the same tent.
I am going to need to rent equipment. Is it safe?
Good question. Our action plan states that after a single use, rental equipment will be disinfected before being issued to a different user. If the piece of equipment cannot be disinfected, it will be “rested” for 48 hours, before being put back into the rental pool. Equipment like shoes, helmets, skis and ski boots are easy to disinfect and this is done after every use. Ropes, harnesses, or technical climbing equipment that cannot be sprayed with disinfectant, is pulled from our rental pool for 48 hours and rested before it can be used again. In winter time, If you need to rent, boots or a ski touring setup, please contact the office at 307.733.4979 and select option 2. Feel free to leave a message. Someone will be in touch to fit your boots at the office.
What about at hanging-belays on multi- pitch climbs?
This is a good question and it was one place where the response team spent a lot of time. The most important thing on a multi-pitch climb is communication between climbers. Handling a small belay ledge or a hanging belay is not different. Guides carry hand sanitizer, and will have their face coverings on. Clients should put their face covering on and sanitize their hands frequently. Hanging belays by their nature are places where physical distancing is often not possible, so we turn to our other means of defense. Masks, keeping clean hands and being thoughtful. A good rule of thumb, if your guide is wearing his/her face covering, chances are you should wear your as well.
Do you test your guides for Covid- 19?
We put in a lot of precautions to keep our guides safe. Pre-trip questionnaires, day-of questionnaires, as well as post-trip questionnaires for all of our guests and staff, allow us to closely monitor any possible exposure. However, we have had instances where our guides have been “exposed” to someone who has tested positive to Covid-19. Our policy is that our guide or guides will self-isolate, and will not be scheduled for work, until he/she receives a negative Covid-19 test.