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Guidelines for Trip Leaders and Coordinators
DISCLAIMER: READ THIS
The Alpine Club of Canada and the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section, including the executive and committee members assume no responsibility for the interpretation and use of any of the procedures and information in this handbook.
Rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and all related outdoor activities are complex and potentially dangerous activities. This handbook is designed to be augmented by training, appropriate skills, personal experience and good judgment.
The guidelines presented in this handbook do not replace actual outdoor experience.
Thank you for volunteering to organize/lead a trip for the Alpine Club of Canada, Toronto Section. We hope that this will be a rewarding experience for you as well as those you lead.
The leader's goal is to help the party have a safe, enjoyable and successful trip, with minimum impact on the environment. A leader must be experienced, with technical skills appropriate for the trip, but does not necessarily need to be the most experienced in the group. A leader should be in good shape but does not need to be the strongest in the party. A leader needs an abundance of good judgment, common sense, and a sincere interest in the welfare of the entire party. It is important also to remember that you are an amateur leader and not a professional guide.
Trip leading involves decision making and application of techniques in circumstances where the number of variables and combination of factors can produce an infinite number of scenarios. There are no cookie-cutter answers in trip leading. Leaders must be prepared to modify techniques, change approaches and make judgments based on what is required at the time to the best of their knowledge and ability.
The guidelines in this handbook are intended to assist you with decision making and provide a number of suggestions on how to lead trips with reasonable limits of safety and enjoyment.
And as always...the objective is for everyone to have a safe and fun trip, including you!
Plan a trip that you are comfortable going on. For your first few outings, it might be best to stick to an area that you are familiar with, even if you have a lot of experience.
- Make sure this trip is well within your abilities. It may even be wise to stay a couple of grades below your comfort level for your first few outings. People will be looking to you for guidance on the trip. Remember – if your skills are weak and you are thinking too much about your climbing or route finding, you will not be able to focus on your participants and their needs.
- Take only as many participants that will allow the trip to be done safely. Think about it in advance. Will you need more ‘rope leaders'? Will you need help with organization? What mix of skill levels is appropriate for your trip?
- Review the gear requirements for your trip. Determine what group gear you will need and make appropriate arrangements. For group gear contact Quentin Hamilton
- Ensure that you always get current information on route/climbing/weather conditions prior to the trip.
- Ensure that you have the emergency services contact numbers for the area you will be in either pre-programmed into your cell phone or in your first aid kit before you leave for your trip.
- Ensure you (or someone on your trip) has first aid training and will be carrying a first aid kit.
- Plan to carry an emergency tarp in your pack in case of an accident or shelter from bad weather.
Talking To Prospective Participants Prior To The Trip
Meeting times and specific locations are not posted on the website or in the newsletter intentionally. Members wishing to participate on a climbing trip must contact the trip coordinator/leader in advance so that a conversation (or email exchange of information) can occur determining their suitability for a particular event. A leader/coordinator should never be surprised at the meeting place by the arrival of someone who is not on their list. Should this happen, the trip leader has the right to tell the surprise arrival that they cannot take part in the event.
As the trip coordinator/leader, you need to determine if a participant has the right experience and/or equipment for the trip. Review the gear requirements with each participant in advance.
Some questions to ask (depending on type of trip):
- Are you a member of the Alpine Club Toronto Section? What is your membership number? Please be aware that the Toronto Section allows non-member participation on a one-time basis only (i.e. one day trip) but priority is always given to ACC members when there is high demand for a trip. ACC members from other sections across the country are always welcome on our trips if space allows.
- If you need to check the membership status for anyone, please send their name and membership number to Helen King (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Quentin Hamilton (email@example.com) to validate.
- How much experience do you have?
- Do you have any medical conditions we should be aware of? (You need to know if someone carries an epi-pen, heart medication etc.)
- Do you lead climb? At what level? Sport or trad?
- Where have you climbed before?
- Have you climbed in the mountains before?
- Have you taken any outdoor/climbing courses?
- Have you taken any First Aid courses?
- What equipment do you have? Be specific (ice, rock)
- Insist that the participant bring and wear a helmet if this is a climbing trip. HELMETS ARE MANDATORY ON ALL CLUB CLIMBING TRIPS INCLUDING CLIMBING AT BON ECHO.
- Do you drive? Are you able to give someone else a lift?
- Get their name, email address, home phone and cell phone number.
- Get an emergency contact for each participant
- Ask if they are familiar with the trip waiver. Tell them that you are going to email the waiver to them in advance so that it can be reviewed prior to the trip. This will allow the participant time to think about any questions they may have. Trip waivers can be found in the following location: http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/activities/waivers.html
Some potential questions from participants you will need to answer:
- Where is the trip?
- How long will it be?
- Where and what time are we meeting?
- What do I need to bring?
- What kind of skills do I need?
- Who else is going?
- Can I get a ride with someone?
Information to give the trip participant:
- Your name, home phone number and/or cell number and email address
- Meeting location and time
- Gear list (remember – helmets are mandatory on club trips)
- If the participant is really new, go over clothing requirements with them. Also, be sure to remind them to bring sunscreen, bug juice, food and water.
- Suggest participants bring a small supply of personal first aid equipment such as moleskin and Band-Aids.
- Email the participant the trip waiver and insist they read it and contact you if they have questions.
At The Meeting Place
- VERY IMPORTANT! Ensure every participant reads and signs the waiver. Ask the group if they have any questions about the waiver prior to them signing. Do not accept waivers that a participant signed at home and brought with them. The waivers must also be witnessed at the meeting place and not before.
- Make a final check on gear and be prepared to send someone home if they are not properly equipped for the trip. Having a participant on a trip without the proper equipment can ruin the day for everyone.
- Let the group know that if anyone wants to leave early, they must find you and tell you they are leaving so that you can account for everyone at the end of the day.
- Inform the group that if anyone arrives late, they must check in with the trip leader. It is the trip leaders decision to allow late comers to climb with the group.
- Tell the people in your group where your cell phone is, where the emergency numbers are and who has the emergency gear.
- Tell the people in your group who is in charge if something happens to you.
On The Trip
- Stay with your group at all times. Do not leave a weak or struggling member without supervision. Remember - they need your help and guidance more than anyone else.
- If the group must be split due to terrain or conditions, make sure that you have enough group gear (tarp, first aid kit) and/or leaders to handle each group.
- For larger groups or rock climbing trips where folks split off to do different climbs, it is often not feasible to keep everyone together. However, you can make sure participants either check in or come together at designated times or meeting points depending on what you are doing. Take head counts to ensure everyone is there. If you are hiking or scrambling with a large group, have a designated sweep at the back of the group.
- Be sensitive to the needs of each participant. Some will be stronger and more experienced than others. Use the stronger members to make sure the whole group is taken care of. Ensure you are sensitive to the pace of your slowest member.
- If someone wants to go back because the trip is too difficult or strenuous or they need to get home, make sure they are capable of going out safely on their own. The leader would make this determination based on the type of trip, climbing venue and location. If in doubt, ask someone to go out with them. Instruct them to stay on the trail and make sure their car is gone when you arrive back at the parking area.
IMPORTANT: An individual not on the trip cannot join a trip already in progress without first talking to the leader. The leader/coordinator must grant permission and ensure the waiver is signed prior to allowing this individual to climb with the group. This is a situation that may happen on a rock or ice climbing day when groups are scattered along the length of the cliff and someone can easily arrive without the leader's knowledge.
WHAT TO DO INCASE OF AN INCIDENT OR ACCIDENT
Let's hope that this is something you never have to deal with but the reality is stuff happens. As a leader, you need to be prepared.
- Prior to leaving on your trip, ensure you know who to contact in the area should an accident occur. If your trip is not local, emergency contact numbers should be pre-programmed into your cell phone or carried on a piece of paper in your first aid kits. At the very least, have a cell phone with you to call 911.
- Always think ahead. Think ‘what if' and trouble shoot before something bad happens. Be prepared for the worst case scenario.
- If an incident or accident occurs, take charge quickly and decisively. You will need to give others instruction on what to do.
- Ensure the safety of your party and any others at the scene.
- Assess the situation and carry out first aid if needed. (Take a Wilderness First Aid course and know current CPR standards)
- Fill out an incident/accident form and make sure it gets sent to the appropriate individuals after the trip. You should have a form with you on the trip. A good place to keep it is in your first aid kit.
- If an accident occurs and reporters arrive, DO NOT speak to the media. Instruct the members of your group not to speak to the media as well.
- In the event of a serious accident, plan a debrief shortly after the event.
After The Trip
Send all signed trip waivers to the following address after your event. Waivers must not be thrown out. They must be archived for a minimum of 7 years.
50 Arundel Ave
Toronto, ON M4K 3A4
Report any accident or negative incident that occurred on youractivity to the Toronto Section Chairperson and/or the Executive Director of the National Office immediately.
The ACMG provides a web page with links to a number of resources.
Rescue Dynamics has a page with additional documents for leadership development.