Please note that we use the word “trip” to refer to all of our courses and guided trips
Policies, waivers, and insurance
Will I need to sign a waiver?
All Island Alpine Guides/Hike Vancouver Island courses and trips take place in an outdoor, wilderness environment. This means that as a participant you will be encountering various risks, dangers, and hazards, some of which include avalanches, cornices, crevasses, cliffs, trees, creeks, rockfall, difficult travel conditions, weather, illness, equipment failure, wild animals, becoming lost as well as the possibility of mistakes being made by guides and instructors.
To participate in these activities you will be required to read and agree to our waiver as part of the registration process. You will also be required to sign the waiver at the start of the course or trip. In doing so you will waive or give up certain legal rights including the right to sue or to claim compensation following an accident.
For participants under 19, we require that a signed waiver is sent prior to the trip or course, so that we can ensure it is signed by a parent or legal guardian.
What is your booking policy?
Trips must be paid in full in order to confirm your spot. Each trip is based on specific guest-to-guide ratios, requiring a minimum number of registered participants for them to be able to go ahead at the advertised price. We will confirm the trip with you as soon as it has enough bookings, and will then be in touch approximately 1 week prior to the trip starting date with all the details, such as meeting time and place. If a trip cannot go ahead due to insufficient numbers, you will be given the option to:
- Reschedule the trip for a later date to allow more time for others to sign up,
- Go ahead with the trip at the lower group number for an appropriate price based on our ratios,
- Keep your credit on file with us for a trip at another time, or
- Receive a full refund
What is your cancellation policy?
Cancellations received in writing up to 45 days prior to the trip starting date will result in a 97% refund. Between 45 and 30 days prior to the trip starting date, 75% can be refunded. Within 30 days of the trip starting date, the trip is completely non-refundable. However, if you are able to fill your spot with another participant, we will keep your credit on file, which can then be transferred to any trip of your choice with no expiry. We charge a $25 admin fee in these cases.
We ask that you thoroughly understand and consider the cancellation policy prior to booking as we make financial commitments to our guides and begin incurring costs upon confirmation. We also suggest purchasing trip cancellation insurance (see below).
Do I need trip cancellation insurance?
Upon confirmation by IAG/HVI that your trip is running, we confirm the work with our guide/s and enter into a financial obligation with them. Unless you provide adequate notice (as outlined in our cancellation policy above) we cannot refund your payment (except for the condition stated below under “What happens if my trip is canceled by Island Alpine Guides”).
We understand that unforeseen issues arise, so we strongly recommend that trip cancellation insurance is purchased to cover for the possibility of your not being able to participate. This is available from a number of travel insurance sellers. Tugo is a common provider. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding our policy or obtaining insurance.
What happens if my trip is canceled by Island Alpine Guides/Hike Vancouver Island?
Upon confirmation by IAG/HVI that your trip is running, we guarantee the trip departure. If we cancel a trip for any reason prior to the start date, a full refund will be provided. If we are forced to cancel a trip for any reason after the trip start date, a full refund for the unused portion of the trip will be provided.
Do I need medical/evacuation insurance?
If you are a resident of BC and are covered by the Medical Services Plan this should cover your medical care needs. If you are not covered by MSP you'll need to check that whatever coverage you have will work for you on our trips and courses. Regarding emergency evacuation we recommend evacuation insurance if you are participating in a wilderness-based trip or course. Having the option of a private evacuation can make for better outcomes in some cases. If you are purchasing any kind of medical or evacuation insurance be sure that it covers all the activities you will be undertaking with us as some insurance policies specifically exclude certain activities.
What happens with my trip in the case of poor weather?
Unless it is unsafe or impractical to do so, our trips operate rain or shine. The decision to cancel based on poor weather or conditions will be made by IAG/HVI. It is the nature of the outdoors that the weather will not always be perfect. Come prepared and ready to enjoy whatever nature gives us. If your trip involves air access, and flying is precluded by weather or any other cause, your trip will be relocated to a non-air access location and you will be refunded the aircraft portion of the trip. If we need to cancel your course due to weather, you will have the following options:
- Reschedule the trip for a later date
- Keep your credit on file with us for a trip at another time, or
- Receive a full refund
What happens if I'm unable to complete the trip due to physical limitations?
Health and fitness are the responsibility of each participant. We will do our best to recommend programs to participants that are suitable to their level of fitness, but ultimately it is each participant’s responsibility to choose an appropriate program. IAG/HVI reserves the right to disqualify participants from a program if they are found to be unable to participate, as it can be a safety liability for the guide and other participants. There can be no refunds in these situations. Please email us to discuss suitability of a course or trip if you are unsure.
Do you offer discounts?
Effective 14 April, 2022 Island Alpine Guides/Hike Vancouver Island is no longer offering discounts to mountain clubs. The financial realities of the guiding industry, like many things, is seeing significant change right now. Demand for mountain guiding and instruction is very high and there are not enough guides to fill all this demand. Simple economics tells us that this means the rates that guides command will go up and that is definitely what we are seeing. When we run trips filled with club members, with these increased costs, the discount we have been giving cuts too deeply into what remains of our margin. In the interest of not raising prices for everyone, we are going to start by stopping discounting of this kind. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to continuing to support mountain education on Vancouver Island.
Trips and Courses
Are these the only trips you offer?
We will happily organize a customized trip for you or a group based on your specific abilities, objectives and budget if we have a guide available. Please get in touch to discuss your ideas or goals.
When do you run your trips?
We pre-schedule our more popular trips and courses at the beginning of the summer season (typically in April). That said, many of our courses and trips are set up based on specific customer requests. If you don’t see any dates scheduled for a trip that you’re interested in, please get in touch and we’ll work with you to set something up based on your preferred dates and our guide availability. We’ll then promote the course or trip publicly to try to reach our required minimum group size (unless you wish to take the trip privately with just you or your group - if this is the case, please ask us about our custom rates).
Do you offer private trips?
Yes. Our advertised prices are based on specific guest-to-guide ratios, but any of our trips may be taken privately, either with just you or a group. Please get in touch to find out the cost of the trip you're interested in based on the number of people in your group.
How much notice do you require to set up a new trip?
We have a limited number of qualified guides here on Vancouver Island. As such, our schedule often fills up during the peak times of summer and winter. The more notice you can provide, the more chance we'll have of being able to organize something on your preferred dates.
If you wish to set up a public trip with other seats we need to fill, having more notice also allows for sufficient time for others to sign up. If it's a private trip you're looking to set up for just you or your group, midweek dates usually have more last-minute availability. In any case, we'll always do our best to make it work. The bottom line is that the earlier you book, the better the chance we have of being able to make your trip happen.
When will I know all the details of my trip, such as meeting time and place?
Unless you're booking a private trip, all of our trips require a minimum number of guests signed up in order for them to run at the advertised price. As soon as your trip has enough bookings, we'll send out a group email to confirm it as going ahead. We'll send another email containing all the details (such as meeting time and place) approximately 1 week prior to the trip starting date. The group email is also to help with participants reaching out to each other to coordinate carpooling and any other logistics. If it is one week prior and your trip doesn't have enough bookings, we'll be in touch to let everyone know their options. (More on this under "What is your booking policy?")
Gear and Food
What equipment do I need and how do I prepare?
All our trips provide a gear list on the booking page. This can be found on the “Gear List” tab. If items are available for rent, we will indicate it on the booking page, but you are always welcome to ask if you are unsure. If weather or conditions dictate that additional items are needed, we will make note of this in the pre-trip email sent out approximately one week prior to the trip start date. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any specific requests, advice on choosing gear, or if you need clarification on anything.
Do you rent camping equipment?
We can provide a tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag or backpack to anyone who requires it on a first come, first serve basis. These are available individually for $10/day, or as a “Camp Kit”(tent and sleeping mat) or “Cook KIt” (stove, fuel, and small pot). Prices for kits are specified on the booking page.
If you require gear that we do not rent and are on a budget, we recommend that you check out Sports Rent in Victoria, or look into purchasing second hand items. Blue Toque in Courtenay offers a great selection of second-hand gear in the Comox Valley.
Do you offer catering on your trips?
We can offer catering on many of our trips by request. For multi-day trips, the cost is an extra $60/person/day. For day trips, a catered lunch is $20/person. Please get in touch to find out if your trip has this option.
If you are looking for quick, lightweight and local fare, we recommend checking out Wild Edge Keto. Pair this with some rice or pasta for a hearty and delicious backpacking meal.
Travel and Accommodation
Where can I stay if I live out of town?
If taking a course near Comox Valley, there are many good accommodation options available to you, including the campground (which is conveniently located by the crags we use for many of our climbing courses), or in the nearby village of Cumberland at the Riding Fool Hostel. There are also a number of great Airbnbs in Cumberland.
Many of our guides will be coming from the Comox Valley, and most course and trip locations are accessible as a day trip from here.
Is my car appropriate for accessing the trailhead?
Access on Vancouver Island can vary significantly. Some locations are easily accessible by car, while others require high clearance vehicles and/or snow tires and chains depending on the time of year, and many locations will take you outside of cell service.
If the location of your trip involves challenging access along logging roads, we may choose to convene at a meeting point, and convoy to the trailhead together, COVID allowing.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about whether your vehicle will be appropriate for the course or trip you are considering, and we will work with you to find solutions if applicable.
Why won't my payment go through?
Please double check all the digits entered correctly. The address entered should be the one registered to your credit card. We do not accept AMEX or Visa/Mastercard Debit Cards.