The coronavirus pandemic has made all of our lives a lot more complex and difficult. We strongly believe that getting out in the natural world for some adventure is a key step for many of us in encouraging mental health, happiness, and balance. While there are very real benefits of guided ski adventures in the mountains, there are very real risks as well -- from avalanche to tree wells to blown ACLs. In our current world, we must consider one more objective hazard – that of coronavirus. Because up to 40% of coronavirus transmission originates in asymptomatic COVID+ individuals, we won’t be able to absolutely eliminate the risk of coronavirus to our clients or guides. But just like we use transceivers, shovels, probes, and airbag packs to reduce the risk from an avalanche involvement, we will take thoughtful steps to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus transmission while on NCH programs.
We consider the following procedures a “code of conduct”; by coming on an NCH program, you agree to abide by these procedures. We welcome feedback on these procedures as well as any questions you might have. We are doing our very best to limit coronavirus transmission in a very non-standard environment (the CDC does not have specific advice for social distancing while heli skiing) and we need your help to succeed! We want our clients and our guides to embrace adventure with appropriate risk, while we mitigate what risks we can.
If you’d like to see NCH’s complete coronavirus / COVID-19 plan, we are happy to share it with you.
- Less than 14 days prior to the beginning of any NCH program, we will send you a COVID-19 screening document, we expect your forthright disclosure of any symptoms or exposures.
- When you meet your guide in the morning, they will re-screen you for COVID-19 symptoms and perform a temperature check.
- If you are on a yurt-based program, you will be required to get a coronavirus test no more than 72 hours prior to the program. Please bring proof of your negative test with you. Clients without proof of a negative coronavirus test will not be permitted to go to the yurt.
Distancing & Masking Measures
- NCH will work to keep appropriate physical distance between helicopter loads (4 clients) plus a guide at all times.
- Heli Barn – loads will be asked to remain in a discreet area of the heli barn at all times and may be briefed and trained separately by their guide. If feasible, groups may be briefed together while remaining socially distanced from one another.
- No social gatherings will be permitted in the heli barn
- When appropriate distancing is not possible (e.g. in the helicopter and in the barn), clients and guides will use masks / face coverings for the purpose of reducing potential virus transmission.
- Masks or Buffs will be worn by all people at all times in both the helicopter and the barn. Our preference is that you wear a minimum of a 2-layer cotton mask while in the barn. While in the field, we have found that a buff is the simplest solution for rapid masking when needed.
- You must carry hand sanitizer during your program for use prior to eating, touching one’s face (applying sunscreen, for example), or other activities with a higher likelihood of transmission.
- We recommend that you utilize bathroom facilities in your lodging prior to arrival as opposed to the bathrooms in the heli barn.
- Please do not share food within your group.
- All client food will be packaged separately.
- You may not eat snacks, lunches, or drink beverages in the heli barn. If you want to drink a beer after your trip, you may do so outside, but we recommend that you return to your home / lodging immediately following each day’s operation.
- All yurt guests must receive a negative coronavirus test no more than 72 hours prior to the start of their trip.
- All yurt guides must receive a negative coronavirus test no more than 72 hours prior to the start of their trip, if available in the Methow Valley. NCH will cover any costs incurred by employees for coronavirus testing.
- NCH strongly advises all guests to quarantine for 14 days prior to their trip.
- Yurt groups will be limited to 4 households or fewer, not including guides.
- Masks will be worn in the yurt at all times except during meals or sleeping.
- NCH recommends that employees eat meals downstairs, separated from clients.
- NCH recommends that employees sleep downstairs, separated from clients.
- NCH will have 1-2 4-season tents available for use by employees who do not wish to sleep in a shared space.
- Yurt door and / or windows will be partially open when people are in the yurt, unless weather conditions make this unfeasible.
- Guides will disinfect high touch areas of the yurt using sanitizing wipes or a 10% bleach solution on the following schedule, at a minimum.
- Each morning at the start of the guiding day
- Each morning after all guests have departed the yurt (on single-load trips, the guests should remain outside while the guide sanitizes)
- Each evening prior to going to sleep. This task may be handed off to clients staying in the yurt, if the guide(s) go to sleep prior to the guests.
- Upon switchover between trips. The outgoing clients should stage outside of the yurt while the outgoing guide disinfects surfaces. Prior to the incoming clients entering the yurt, the incoming guide will re-disinfect surfaces.