Our Covid protocols are designed to keep our clients and guides safe, and they will be based on scientific facts and official guidelines.
This pandemic has been dynamic since the beginning, and for the foreseeable future I expect it to remain so. As the circumstances change throughout the season, our protocols may also change.
Last updated: July 10, 2022
These protocols are designed to avoid a guide or client contracting any case of Covid while in the backcountry, tens of miles and thousands of vertical feet from medical help — or, in the case of Alaska, hundreds of miles and at least one flight away from medical help.
A severe case of Covid would have obvious implications for a group. But even a mild case of Covid cannot be tolerated. Our experience in 2022 has been that symptomatic individuals will::
- Be a physical and emotional drag on the group, specifically by necessitating bail-out or low-key routes, requiring a disruptive evacuation, and being unable to fully participate; and,
- Infect others, even in an outdoor setting, because groups do not consistently remain physically distanced and because air flow is not constant in all locations and times of the day.
The only way to prevent contracting a case of Covid is by limiting your exposure. Starting 10 days before your trip, please adopt peak pandemic-era behaviors, including but not limited to:
- Reducing the size of your “pandemic pod”;
- Explain to members of your pod that your upcoming trip is important to you, and ask them to limit their exposure before your trip, too;
- Social distancing when around others not in your pod;
- Avoid indoor spaces where distancing cannot or will not be maintained, like restaurants and social get-togethers;
- Wear a high quality N95 mask when distancing cannot be maintained, especially while traveling.
The best solution is to not bring Covid into the field at all.
The second best solution is for guides and participants to be vaccinated, which greatly reduces the risks of a severe case. Prior infection is also helpful, with or without vaccination.
Guides and clients are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated, but it’s not mandatory.
Disclosing your vaccination status is mandatory, as part of a broader health history form.
So far in 2022, 89 percent of clients report being full vaccinated with a booster, and an additional 9 percent are partially vaccinated (98 percent total).
In 2021, 95 percent of clients reported being vaccinated.
If you develop Covid symptoms before your trip
If you develop Covid symptoms (confirmed with a positive test, or not) within a month of your trip, contact me/Andrew as soon as you’re able. The next steps will be conditional, with our goals being to:
- Prevent infecting other members of the group, following current CDC guidelines; and,
- Ensuring that you’re still physically capable of the trip.
All guides and clients are required to take a rapid test on the first day of their trip. This test will be provided. Guides or clients not willing to test should contact me/Andrew immediately so that they can be removed from the trip.
Guides and clients who test negative will be allowed on the trip.
Guides or clients who test positive will be retested. If the second test is also positive, the guide or client will not be allowed on the trip.
Exceptions will be made for individuals who tested positive for Covid 10+ days earlier and are still producing positive tests (even though they are no longer contagious, per the CDC).
Transfers and refunds
If you are unable to join a trip due to Covid, you will have the option of transferring to another 2022 trips, receiving a voucher for 2023, or being partially refunded. For the official policy, go here and find the header, “If we postpone or cancel your trip, you can:”.
Positive cases in the field
If a guide or client develops Covid-like symptoms in the field, they should use a test from the group first aid kit. Also in the first aid kit are non-prescription cold-and-flu medications.
Covid positive guides or clients should immediately isolate. An evacuation is preferred, but may be impractical.