Covid-19 Ski Information

Hi Everyone – we hope you are all staying fit and well! Once lockdown measures were eased in the Alps and the UK, we resumed guiding activities over the summer using our new safety protocols and we are now confident using Alpine huts, cable cars and other mountain services in a Covid secure manner.


Booking Information

At the moment, we are understandably answering many questions about our booking, cancellation and refund policies – so from the outset, we’d like to re-assure you that if we have to cancel your trip due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Uk FCO or within a destination country, then we will offer a full refund of all fees paid to Alpine Guides.

Financial Security Through our membership of ABTOT, all of our package holidays are fully insured and fully compliant will all UK/EU Package Travel Regulations – please see our Financial Protection page for more information.

Flexibility For the coming ski season we have undertaken contingency planning for all of the holidays on our program, in order to keep trips running in as wide a range of scenarios as possible. Adjustments have been made to travel joining info and alternative tours have been planned, so if necessary we can modify itineraries with the agreement of the group and if we have to cancel a trip, then we will offer you the option to transfer your booking to an alternative trip if places are available.

Finally, if a number of our regular trips are affected by cancellations, we have plans to offer a short notice program of ‘pop up’ trips to open ski destinations through the season. Numbers on these trips will be strictly limited and offered to customers who already have a booking with us; ie we will do everything we can to help our regular customers enjoy skiing this winter.


Covid FAQs

Below you will find some common FAQ’s regarding Covid-19. If you have any other questions not answered below, please get in touch.

*Refunds include all package holiday/guiding fees paid to Alpine Guides. We cannot offer compensation for cancelled flights or other travel/logistical costs, but these may be covered by your own holiday insurance.

Q – Will I get a refund if Alpine Guides cancel my holiday due to Covid-19?
A – If we have to cancel a holiday due to Covid-19, then you will receive a full *refund within 14 days. Alternatively, if you prefer to transfer your booking to another available holiday on our program, then we will happily arrange this for you. There will be no amendment fee for this – if it’s a more expensive trip, you simply pay the difference and if it’s a cheaper trip, we’ll refund the difference.
Q – Will Alpine Guides cancel my holiday and refund me if the Uk Government are advising against travelling to the country I am due to be visiting?
A – Yes. If the Uk Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are advising against all but essential travel to the country you are due to be visiting and there is no prospect of this advice being changed prior to the trip start date, then we will cancel the holiday and offer a *refund.
Q – Will Alpine Guides cancel my holiday and refund me if the area I am due to be visiting is placed in a local lockdown?
A – Yes. If the area/region you are due to be visiting on your trip is placed under local lockdown restrictions that prevent the trip from taking place and there is no prospect of these being lifted prior to the trip start date, then we will cancel your trip and offer a *refund.
Q – When will Alpine Guides make the decision to potentially cancel a holiday due to Covid-19?
We constantly monitor the latest Uk FCO, EU and in country advice regarding international travel. As the last few months have shown, the situation can change very quickly, but whenever possible we try and make decisions as far in advance as possible. We review Covid regulations at 4 – 5 weeks before departure and if it is looking certain that a trip will not be running due to Covid, then we will make the decision to cancel at this time. If a destination is currently subject to restrictions, but there is a chance these may be lifted prior to departure date, we aim to make a decision at a minimum of 21 days before departure. Where a destination is ‘open’ for travel, but becomes subject to restrictions within 21 days of departure, we may have to cancel a trip at short notice.
Q - Can I cancel or change my holiday?
If you choose to cancel a holiday that is still going ahead, then you must notify us in writing as soon a possible and our standard cancellation terms will apply, namely: 56+ days (8 weeks) prior to departure = loss of deposit, 56-28 days = 50% of cost, 28-0 days = 100% of cost. If you would like to amend or change the date of your holiday, please notify us as soon as possible – we will do our best to make the change, but cannot guarantee to do so. Any additional costs due to difference in holiday price will also be payable. Alternatively, you may transfer your booking to another person who satisfies all conditions for the trip (including health, fitness and experience requirements). In order to do so, you must give us notice in writing of your intention at least 7 days before the trip is due to start. We will inform you of any additional costs relating to the transfer of your trip.
Q - Will Alpine Guides refund me if I have to cancel my holiday due to showing Covid-19 symptoms or being required to self isolate a week or two prior to the trip commencing?
A – If you have to cancel the holiday at short notice, then we will not be able to offer you a full refund, as we will still be liable to costs from suppliers. However, if we are able to resell your place to someone else, then we will give you a full refund. Additionally, if we are unable to resell your place, we will refund you any recoverable costs and you may be able to make a claim for the balance on your insurance; we know many insurers will cover Covid-19 on a personal illness basis. We suggest that you check this with your insurer at the time of, or before booking your holiday with us.
Q - Will I need to self-isolate/quarantine during or after my holiday?
A – If the country you are due to be visiting is requiring quarantine upon entry for Uk arrivals, then we will cancel the holiday and offer a *refund. For quarantine restrictions on return into the Uk, the situation is more complicated. We are an English registered limited company governed by English Law, which means we must follow FCO travel advice (travel regulations for England correspond with FCO advice). Therefore, if the FCO are allowing travel to the country you are due to be visiting, then your trip will be going ahead and you won’t have to quarantine on return to the Uk, so long as your home nation travel regulations correspond with FCO advice. If you are resident in a Uk home nation that has announced stricter regulations than FCO advice however, then you may be required to self-isolate/quarantine upon your return to the Uk and a refund will not be available in this situation. There are separate exemption lists for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, so you need to check the regulations within your home nation.
Q - What happens if the trip location is 'open', but a transit country I am travelling through in order to join the trip is 'closed'?
A – The trip will still be going ahead, so you either need to fly into the same country as the trip meet up location, or be prepared to make alternative travel arrangements if a transit country becomes ‘closed’. We have modified trip itineraries to avoid transit countries/border crossings as far as possible, but for some destinations this is still a common travel plan. Eg Flying into Geneva for Chamonix – if Switzerland closes, you will need to fly into an alternative French airport, such as Chambery, Grenoble or Lyon and travel to Chamonix from there.
Q - What happens if one of the countries visited on the Haute Route is 'closed' - will the trip still go ahead?
A – If Switzerland is ‘closed’, the trip will be cancelled and you will receive a full refund. If France is closed but Switzerland is open, we will meet in Martigny and ski the Haute Route to Zermatt from there.
Q - Will I need to wear a face mask on my holiday?
A – This will depend on local rules in force at the time of travel. Face masks will be required on public transport, indoor settings and sometimes outdoor locations in many countries and possibly in restaurants and hotels, except when eating or drinking.
Q - Can I still share a twin room with another member from a different household?
A – Yes. as long as the local regulations for your trip location permit the sharing of a room for people from different households, then you will be able to do so on your Alpine Guides holiday. This is something we will continue to monitor and will update you on if there are any changes. If you prefer a single occupancy room, please select this option when you book.
Q - Are Alpine Guides in touch with Hotels and Mountain Huts regarding their Covid-19 safety precautions?
A – Yes, we have been using our regular mountain huts and hotels throughout the summer and are happy and familiar with their Covid-19 safety precautions. We are in regular contact with all of our suppliers and will continue to monitor the situation as it changes over the coming months.
Q - What precautions are Alpine Guides taking to minimise the possibility of me contracting Covid-19 whilst on my holiday?
A – Please refer to detailed information further down this page. Our Covid secure operating procedures are now well bedded in, having been used successfully throughout the summer. We are continuing to monitor the situation in each country and destination with our suppliers. As the advice is ever changing, we will be in touch to communicate whether additional safety measures are required on your holiday closer to the departure date.
Q – What if the Uk Government add the country I am in to a 'no travel' list whilst I am on holiday?
A – If the Uk government add the country you are in to a ‘no travel’ list whilst you are on your trip, then unless advised otherwise by the government, your holiday will carry on as normal. Upon your return to the Uk, you will then need to follow any relevant advice provide by the Uk government. For example, this may mean needing to quarantine upon return to the Uk.
Q - What happens if my temperature is checked at the airport and I am unable to fly? Will Alpine Guides refund me?
A – If you are unable to fly and therefore have to cancel your holiday, we will not be able to fully refund you, but we will refund any recoverable costs. You may be able to make a claim on your insurance; we suggest that you check this with your individual insurance provider to clarify if this is covered.
Q - What happens if I show Covid-19 symptoms whilst on my holiday?
A – You will have to isolate from the rest of the group, follow local guidelines and contact your insurer about medical treatment or repatriation if appropriate. Please also ensure that you notify us (via phone call or text from your place of isolation) and we will do our best to support where necessary.
Q - I have been classed as vulnerable by the government; can I still book a holiday with you?
A – Yes, the risk is yours to take although we advise you to think carefully before doing so. Please also remember to contact your insurers to declare any pre-existing medical conditions and ensure that your medical record with us is up to date.

Please refer to our booking conditions for full terms and conditions.


New Participation Requirements

Following guidelines set by our UK and International guiding federations and in compliance with government regulations, we have adopted new Covid secure operating protocols. If you would like to join us, then you need to understand and accept our new participation requirements as detailed below. Although the risk of contracting Covid 19 whilst backcountry skiing is extremely low, these requirements will help us to ski safely and stay within government regulations in the countries where we operate. The key requirements are summarised below:

  • If you are required to self isolate during the dates of your booking (eg due to developing Covid-19 symptoms, testing positive, being exposed to someone who has symptoms or has tested positive etc) then you must not attend! You must engage with your government test and trace program and complete the period of self isolation.
  • Bring your own food and drink, sun cream, clothing and technical equipment where possible.
  • Bring a Covid Kit with you (face mask, protective gloves, hand sanitiser – more details below) and eye protection such as ski goggles or sunglasses.
  • For single day trips, meet at lift stations or car parks to avoid/minimise car sharing.
  • Maintain 2m separation as much as possible and be prepared to use mitigation techniques such as use of face coverings and sunglasses, in situations where separation is difficult to maintain.
  • Be prepared to be a bit more ‘self sufficient’ on the hill – eg taking responsibility for sorting out minor problems that a guide would normally quickly offer to help with.
  • Take ownership of any small personal medical problems, such as blisters etc.
  • Adopt a flexible approach and be prepared to adjust plans to avoid over crowding – eg avoiding popular outings or huts/cable cars at popular times, reduce time spent on summits etc.
  • Understand that mountain rescue teams currently need to take increased precautions, which may increase response times to an incident.
  • Should you become ill within 14 days of spending time with us, we need to be informed.

Ski Season 2021

Views over lake Issyk-Kul ski touring in Kyrgyzstan

Our 2021 Ski Program is up online and we are taking bookings for the winter 2021 ski season. Regarding flights and other travel arrangements, we have updated our travel information for all of this winters’ trips with new flight availability and recommended airports. We are advising people to either book flexible tickets, or wait until the travel outlook for winter 2021 becomes clearer before booking flights and other travel arrangements.

If it is not possible to run a trip, then we will offer you a full refund – as we did for all customers affected by trip cancellations in the 2020 ski season.

A number of trips are already confirmed to run, since many regular clients either postponed their trips, or cancelled and have subsequently rebooked – we really appreciate this and look forward to seeing you on tour this winter!

Check out our Ski Dates and Prices page and Contact Us here to make an enquiry.

Finally, if our scheduled program is significantly affected by Covid restrictions for part of the season, we will offer a small number of short notice ‘pop up’ trips to alternative ski touring destinations in open countries (Eg Italy, Germany, Sweden etc). These will be small trips with a single guide, so numbers will be strictly limited. Places will be offered to committed customers who have already made a booking with us, just so you know the score!


Skiing the Haute Route in 2021

The Haute Route starts in France and finishes in Switzerland, which leads to the obvious question: ‘What happens if one of the countries visited on the Haute Route is ‘closed’ – will the trip still go ahead?’

Answer – If Switzerland is ‘closed’, the trip will be cancelled and you will receive a full refund. If France is closed but Switzerland is open, we will meet in Martigny and ski the Haute Route to Zermatt from there. Please ensure you are happy with this before making a booking.

Please Note – As a UK based travel company, we follow UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice when making decisions about whether to run or cancel a trip – ie if UK FCO are advising against all but essential travel to a country, then it is regarded as ‘closed’ for UK travellers and we will have to cancel. You need to bear this in mind if you are booking on one of our trips and live in a different country, where your own governments’ travel advice may be different.

Clearly this could be an issue on the Haute Route, where international groups are common, so we will try to put all eg. all US based skiers in the same group, in order to make such decisions easier. Please get in touch if you have specific questions on this matter, as there are different situations for people living in different countries.


Travel

For single day bookings, you need to make your own travel arrangements and be able to meet your guide at the cable car or car park, in order to minimise car sharing.

For multi-day bookings and courses, car sharing may be undertaken with additional mitigation measures such as the use of face masks, if local regulations allow.

When travelling from home to join your trip, we advise that you avoid ‘transit’ countries where possible, as this reduces the risk of disruption – ie try and fly direct into the same country where your trip starts, rather than changing planes in an intermediate country, or flying to another country and crossing a border to join the trip.

We have modified trip itineraries and travel joining instructions to avoid transit countries as far as possible, but for some destinations this is still a common travel plan, so you need to be prepared to make alternative travel arrangements if a transit country becomes ‘closed’. Eg Flying into Geneva for Chamonix – if France is open but Switzerland closes, you will need to fly into an alternative French airport, such as Chambery, Grenoble or Lyon and travel to Chamonix from there.

For travel to overseas destinations, please plan plenty of extra time into your travel itinerary and make yourself fully aware of any special requirements at airports, airlines, borders etc by visiting their respective websites and plan accordingly. For country specific information within the EU visit: Reopen EU and for information for Uk travellers worldwide visit: Uk Government Travel Advice.

NB Due to the requirement in most countries to wear face masks on public transport, aircraft and indoor spaces, we recommend that you always carry a face mask with you whenever you are out and about on your trip – as failure to have one may lead to denial of entry or boarding.


Accommodation

Accommodation providers (both valley accommodation and mountain huts) need to comply with local Covid regulations, which may mean changes to occupancy rates, meal arrangements and other services (eg bars, communal areas etc).

Using Alpine Huts Alpine Huts re opened over the summer and are still relaxed and enjoyable places to hang out in the mountains. In order to reopen safely, they have made a number of changes to their routines and sleeping arrangements. You now need to take the following personal items with you to each hut:

  • Covid Kit (see below)
  • Towel, soap
  • Garbage bag (small bin bag or ziplock bag)
  • Footwear (crocs, flip flops)
  • Sheet Sleeping Bag Liner (with integrated pillow cover, or bring one)

For bedding, you need to take a sleeping bag liner. Sleeping bag liners are mandatory in all huts, with duvets and pillows still provided. The odd Italian hut require you to take your own sleeping bag – we will tell you if this is needed.


Objectives

At the moment we need to adopt a flexible approach to ski objectives, so be prepared to adjust itineraries in order to avoid busy locations; huts/cable cars at popular times, reduce time spent on summits etc. For bigger objectives, we need to know that conditions are good and that the chosen descent is comfortably within your ability level.


Kit and Personal Equipment

In order to avoid sharing kit on the hill, use of communal equipment will be kept to an absolute minimum (ie for skiing, just essential safety kit such as ropes for glacier travel). All participants must bring their own:

Lunch, Drink and Snacks.
Covid Kit – hand sanitizer, face mask, protective gloves,
Basic Personal First Aid Kit – blister kit, plasters, alcoholic wipes etc (the guide will have a 1st Aid kit for emergency use only)
Sun Glasses/Goggles, Sun Cream etc.
Outdoor Clothing appropriate for any conditions.
Specialist Equipment if possible (helmet, transceiver, shovel, probe etc.)
Sheet Sleeping Bag Liner if staying in Alpine Huts.
Hut Footwear if staying in Alpine Huts – crocs, flip flops, hotel slippers.

In Summary – in addition to your regular kit, you need to bring a Covid Kit, Small Personal First Aid Kit, your own Technical Equipment if possible (see further info below), plus a Sheet Sleeping Bag Liner and Indoor Footwear if you are using alpine huts.

Covid Kit - mask, gloves, hand sanitizer

Covid Kit: face mask, protective gloves, hand sanitizer


Technical Ski and Safety Equipment

Try to provide all of your own technical ski and safety equipment if possible – ie transceiver, shovel, probe and ice axe, crampons, harness if required etc. We still have hire kit available, but less than normal due to the requirement to disinfect everything between users. If you need to hire kit – please advise us right away, so we can confirm availability and plan accordingly.


What to Expect on your Trip

Briefings will take place at a venue where social distancing is possible and may be held outdoors. In some circumstances, briefings may take place over the phone. For kit checks, expect the Guide to be a bit less ‘hands on’ than normal – eg if a piece of personal equipment needs adjusting, they may demonstrate and ask you to make the adjustment yourself and verify that it’s done correctly. Please bear with us – we are all having to do things a little differently now!

Personal Clothing and Equipment You need to make sure you have everything you will need for the day – ie no sharing of food, water, sun cream, clothing, personal equipment etc. Please double check you have everything with you before setting off each morning and make sure you have sufficient clothing for any weather, not just the bluebird forecast..

Mountain Infrastructure Expect to see various different arrangements at car parks, ski lifts and huts – eg reduced capacity and face masks required in cable cars, huts serving meals two sittings etc. Regular hand washing and observing social distancing are especially important in indoor settings and anywhere there are lots of people about for significant periods of time.

Using Equipment During the trip, ideally you need to be as ‘self sufficient’ as possible, as the Guide is required to be less ‘hands on’ than normal when it comes to sorting out minor problems – eg practice using your touring bindings and putting skins and harscheisen on correctly a few times before the trip!

Teaching Sessions Please try and use as much of your own personal kit as possible – if you are issued with kit on a course, keep it for the duration and don’t swap or share it with other students. Teaching sessions are pretty much as normal: the Guide will typically explain and demonstrate a skill, then coach and allow you to practice in a controlled environment.

Out on Tour Backcountry skiing is a well ventilated(!) outdoor sport, so the risk of transmission from breath droplets is very low and the virus is not likely to persist for long at altitude, due to high UV levels. Nevertheless, we favour quiet backcountry routes over busy resorts and in situations where distancing is difficult, be prepared to adopt other measures such as use of face masks in cable cars etc.

Mountain Safety If at any point during the day, there is a conflict between maintaining social distancing and mountain safety, then mountain safety will always be maintained as an absolute priority. We will plan ahead for such eventualities and where possible, adopt mitigation measures such as wearing a face covering, eyewear, gloves and disinfecting hands/exposed items as frequently as possible.

Alpine Huts Please see our accommodation section above for info about extra kit needed when visiting alpine huts. Huts still have a relaxed atmosphere and are a great place to hang out and escape everything for a few days, but routines have been modified to comply with new regulations, so expect to use hand sanitisers and wear face masks when not eating and drinking, there may be two sittings at meal times, take your rubbish back to the valley etc.

Minor Medical Issues You need to be equipped with a small personal first aid kit and prepared to take personal responsibility for small medical problems such as blisters etc. The Guide will be carrying a first aid kit as normal, but this is reserved for emergency use only.

At the End of the Trip If you experience any Covid symptoms within 14 days of returning home, then we need to be informed.