I just wanted to give a little update on how things have been going for Sierra Mountain Center so far with our new procedures as we have been slowly restarting operations this summer.
First of all, please visit our home page for a complete list of our new policies and procedures. If you do book a program, we will send you additional information specific to how we will manage COVID-19 risks during your visit to the Sierra Nevada.
Our biggest changes are these:
We are requiring the use of masks at any time that we cannot maintain 6 ft. of distance between folks. This means that shared belays, rope teams moving together, and certain camp activities will require face masks. Buffs/neck gaiters MIGHT be considered appropriate for this, and might be a comfortable tool for masking our faces while climbing, but are not as effective as dedicated masks. Basically, if you can see light through your mask or buff, it’s not doing much to protect you or those around you.
Unfortunately, we have had to cut guide-cooked meals out of the programs for the time being. This requires some planning and prep on your part as a student and guest. Guides will prepare boiled water at meal time, and share that for boil-in-bag meals and hot drinks. You won’t have to touch any dishes, and we can keep the chances of cross-contamination to a minimum. Please feel free to reach out to us to discuss how you can get creative with your meals if you will be joining us on a program. Now is a great time to experiment and learn a new skill by taking kitchen time into your own hands.
We are providing quite a bit of sanitation tools in the field as well. Hand sanitizer is almost always at arms-reach, and in camp we are using a solar shower and bio-degradable soap. This is actually pretty similar to how things have been in the past, but we are advocating heightened hygiene. We are using alcohol-based liquid climbing chalk at the crag during our rock programs.
After a trip, we are bagging and isolating our soft-goods such as ropes, slings, etc. for 72 hours minimum. All other hard goods, including carabiners, cookwear, trekking poles, etc. are being cleaned with an ethanol solution. This means we can still rent a lot of equipment if you need it — that’s what we are here for. That being said, we do appreciate it if folks can provide any of their own equipment, especially tents, which are particularly difficult to sanitize in an efficient manner.
We always evaluate the risk of each program; however, during this time when COVID-19 risk is heightened, our acceptance of other risk is lowered. It doesn’t mean we won’t go out, but if there isn’t enough information or total buy-in amongst guides and guest, an itinerary might change. We promise to be up front with our dear customers, and ask that you also be honest and communicate about your health. We are more than happy to work with you to reschedule if need be.
We were able to run a number of successful programs this weekend, and were impressed by how on-board with these new procedures our guests and students were. A HUGE thanks to Michelle, Tyler, Brian, Ashley, Trevor, Laura, and Devin for helping us to make the start to this strange season a success. We are feeling very positive about and very lucky to be able to open in the capacity that we have. Your buy-in and teamwork this summer is what will lead to success in the mountains, and everlasting memories an experiences.
As usual, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask us about a program you are interested in, and what that looks like this summer. We are SO looking forward to spending time with you in the mountains this summer!