Trip Guidelines

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For Trip Participants

  • Talk to the trip organizers about the physical demands of the trip and decide whether or not you are fit enough to go.
    • Don't be afraid to push yourself, but if you suspect the trip will be too long or too hard, go for something easier until you are in better shape (physically, mentally, emotionally).
    • If the trip is "beginner friendly" it means that people don't expect that you have all the skills and will look after you, but not necessarily that it's easy.
  • Pack the essentials.
    • A light pack will help you move fast, but don't sacrifice safety. If you aren't sure what to take (or not), ASK! We are each responsible for ourselves out there. Check out the detailed gear lists for different kinds of trips.
  • Tell someone at home of your intended destination and what time you expect to return.
    • Include a bit of leeway into your estimate - see the heading "Broken Board" under VOC awards. Leave the phone numbers of the trip organizers and your driver.
  • Extended medical insurance is recommended if you are travelling out of the country.
    • It's possible to get a great deal through MEC otherwise try Travel Cuts in the SUB or any other insurance outlet. Consider whether you just want coverage for common accidents (ie for motor vehicle accidents). Covering rock climbing and other "hazardous" activities will increase the cost - if it's allowed at all. Ask - as some policies exclude "mountaineering" in the fine print.
  • VOC trips are typically posted on the message board as well as being included in the weekly VOCene and wiki. Make sure you attend the pre-trip meeting, as important information is distributed here and rides/food groups are often arranged. If you absolutely cannot make the meeting, contact the organizer BEFORE the meeting and work something out.
  • Take note of other VOC guidelines. First and foremost, that VOC takes no responsibility for your safety, but also details like the driver reimbursement guidelines.

For Trip Organizers

Trip Organizers are what keeps the VOC running. Everything people love about the VOC wouldn't happen if it wasn't for them. Below, you will find a few resources that will make your life easier and, hopefully, convince you to organize a trip with the VOC.

Some general points

  • Although it typically turns out that way, a trip 'organizer' doesn't have to be the trip 'leader'. If you want to go somewhere, offering to take care of the logistics can convince a more experienced person to tag along and take care of leading.
  • As a trip organizer, you have the final say in who gets to go on your trip. If you don't want to take someone due to, e.g., a previous bad experience or the impression that their skills are insufficient for your trip, you have the right to deny them, and the VOC exec will back you up on this.
  • Try your best to make the intended nature of your trip as clear as possible and make sure everybody knows what you're talking about (not everyone knows what a class-4 scramble is and not everyone who doesn't know it will look it up on their own or ask...)

West Coast conditions - thick bush, short winter days, poor weather, etc. - when combined with the uncertainty of having persons of unknown capabilities along on a trip, can quickly turn the easiest trip into an epic of unimaginable proportions. The following suggestions are intended to help the prospective trip coordinator avoid embarrassing or even tragic incidents on their trip.

Pre-Trip Preparation

  • Consult guidebooks, maps, air photos, club members, etc. Obtain as much information on the route as possible. Bruce Fairley's "A Guide to Climbing and Hiking in Southwestern BC" is and excellent reference as is John Baldwin's "Exploring the Coast Mountain on Skis" and Matt Gunn's "Scrambles in SW BC"
  • Obtain a map of the area and know how to use it! Topographic maps may be photocopied at the UBC map library and are available for sale at the Geological Survey of Canada (100 W Pender). Check weather forecasts, snow reports, tide tables and/or road conditions, as applicable.
  • Decide what the minimum skill requirements are. Is this a beginner friendly trip or not? Does everyone on the trip need to meet the requirements, or is it ok if some fraction do not? Requirements to consider are:
    • Avalanche assessment and rescue
    • Belaying
    • Setting up top rope anchors
    • Crevasse rescue training
    • Kayak capsize recovery training
  • Decide if there will be a limit on the number of participants, and what that limit will be. Large groups move slow and are difficult to manage if avalanches or rockfall are a concern. Large groups camping together can also split up to climb or ski different objectives.
  • Decide what safety equipment will be brought on the trip.
    • Helmet
    • Ice axe
    • Crampons
    • Rope, harness
    • Rock protection
    • Snow/ice protection
    • Avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe
    • First aid kit
    • Headlamp
  • Advertise the trip. All the planning in the world won't be worth much if no one comes along! Mention difficulty, length, equipment needed and any limits you intend to impose on group size. Arrange a time for a pre-trip meeting.
  • After the pre-trip meeting, leave a complete set of trip details (date, names and addresses of participants, proposed route, date and time of return, equipment carried by the group as well as location and license number of vehicles) with a reliable person who is remaining in town. Leave specific instructions with this person about what constitutes "Failure To Return On Time" and what to do about it.Make sure the to contact this person upon the safe completion of the trip to prevent a rather embarrassing unnecessary rescue.

Pre-Trip Meeting

  • Some people will not be able to make the meeting - decide in advance what to do with them. Probably getting them to find somebody to represent them at the meeting is easiest for you, unless they are actually learning stuff there in which case maybe attendance should be mandatory (ie. glacier-school).
  • Remember to inform your group that you (or the in-trip leader) are not certified guides. Ensure that all trip participants have signed a waiver, including non-VOC members or guests.
  • Inform people of difficulties, strenuousness and dangers to be expected on the trip. Persons who are probably not up to the rigours of the trip should tactfully be referred to an easier one.
  • Show people the intended route on the map. They may wish to pick up their own copy.
  • Ensure that all participants have the necessary personal footwear, clothing and equipment.
  • Arrange for appropriate amounts of group gear to be brought along (tents, stoves, fuel, ropes, etc).
  • If safety equipment is being brought along, make sure that all participants are sufficiently skilled in its use.
  • Arrange rides. Do this in such a way that people are not left standing around on rainy street corners when someone's vehicle won't start. Have all vehicles meet at the trailhead or, preferably, in Vancouver to drive up to the trail head together. It's easiest to specify a "driving over the Lions Gate Bridge" time, and how many stops are included in the travel time.
  • State the conditions, if any, in the event of trip cancellation.

The Trip

  • Each trip should be equipped with all necessary gear including map, compass, first aid kit, flashlights or headlamps, extra clothing and food, repair kit, etc. Gear lists
  • The club now rents out SPOT devices that can send pre-programmed messages (OK, SOS, Being late, etc.)
  • Distribute group gear equitably, taking into account a persons size, fitness and experience. Some redistribution of weight from time to time may be a relief for those lagging behind. Be tactful - egos have been bruised in the past.
  • Keep the group together if practical, but have pre-determined lunch stops and campsites in case of separation. Be sure everyone knows where these stops will be.
  • Any group or individual splitting off from the main party should be prepared to function as an independent unit for the trips duration; as often as not, plans to meet later go astray.
  • At the start of the trip you may wish to initiate a "buddy" system of travel, in which each person stays with one other person for the whole day.
  • Appoint yourself, or some other reliable, experienced person to bring up the rear and watch for stragglers.
  • Suggest rest stops when someone appears to be getting tired or is lagging behind.
  • During cold or wet weather, make sure everyone is staying warm - if necessary find some spare clothing for them.
  • If the original intent of the trip was to split a large group up for safety reasons, make sure this happens and make sure each subgroup has a suitable leader.
  • Keep an eye on the time and know when it will be getting dark. Head for home before darkness sets in, even if it means not attaining the original trip objective.
  • Novices may have no idea prior to the trip what they can or cannot do. Thus, it is not their fault if they are slow, and the pace of the trip should be adjusted to suit their capabilities. NO NOVICE SHOULD EVER BE LEFT BEHIND!

If Someone Gets Lost

  • Determine as best as possible the time and location they were last seen.
  • If time and conditions permit, search for them; however, do not split up the group and risk having someone else get lost.
  • Return to base camp or the trailhead by dark.
  • Notify the RCMP. Have complete details available - person's description, clothing, last location seen, vehicle and license number at the trailhead, etc.

At the End of the Trip

  • See that all persons are back to the vehicles, and that all vehicles start, before anyone drives away.
  • Passengers need to reimburse their driver for the use of the vehicle. Ideally passengers will bring some small change to be able to easily pay for gas. Cars cost more than just gasoline, so paying for your driver's gas share (if not more) would likely be appreciated.
  • Let the designated contact person know that you have returned safely.
  • Contribute to the VOC's knowledge of local areas and conditions by submitting a trip report (select someone to write it during the trip, preferably a new VOC member), or documenting the destination on the trip ideas section of the VOC Wiki.

Trip pages

The wiki was a great way to organize a trip – in the past. Now, most trips are organized through the VOC website. Create a trip.

How to run a hot trip

It's been noticed that some trips turn out hot, and some... not... here's some tested methods for making sure your trip is a hot one. Everybody knows that what will define a good trip in the end was the participants, not the weather, destination or objectives completed - yet getting those participants together in the first place is not as trivial as posting "Let's go on a trip!" on the board Friday night. It is more work to run a hot trip, but worth it.

Of course, sometimes you don't want more than a car-load. These are suggestions for running a big, popular trip. Remember - all the VOC's big annual trips started somewhere.

The trip idea must seem worthwhile

It doesn't have to actually be anything spectacular, but it should appear that the goal itself is worthwhile. Make it seem like an event, and make it sound like fun. What's the difference between "let's go skiing this weekend" and "VOC's Winter Powderfest" - Really, just the name... but it could make the difference between wondering whether or not you'll find enough people to fill your car and wondering how many people the terrain in your area can support.

For beginner friendly trips it's ideal if it's challenging enough that people feel they've accomplished something, but not so tough that people perish... but that's more of a fine art. Really, worry about making it seem like an event.

At least 3 weeks is best. People need a chance to get excited, and book the time off work. You'll also need a chance to achieve critical mass (see below).

Appear organized

Have a link to the wiki page in your first post, and a link to the message board on the wiki. Use the preview button to make sure your link is actually working (you have to make the wiki page first, then post on the board with a link to the wiki, then update the wiki with a link to the board). Include lots of information on both the board and the wiki. People like to read it - it let's them get excited, makes people think the trip will be a success and makes it seem more like an event.

Have a pre-trip meeting

Events have pre-trip meetings, people like events. It gives beginners who might otherwise be scared a chance to ask questions (remember, no questions are stupid) and it's also a good opportunity to sort out who's actually interested and who just wrote their name down on the wiki. Not to mention all the logistics (cars, food, tents, etc) that you need to sort out.

Achieve critical mass

Once a significant number of people (usually about 10) have signed up interest is likely to explode - everybody sees everybody else is signed up and knows that this will be a trip to remember. You might need to prod around a bit though, to get the initial numbers up.

  • Encourage people to sign up on the wiki, even if they're just "interested". You'll sort interested from coming at the pre-trip anyway, and the numbers will make the trip seem more popular.
  • Send a personal email around to some friends/keeners you know will enjoy the trip to draw their attention to it.

Good follow-up

So, your trip was the latest best thing to happen in the participant's lives - awesome! Get the newest keener to post a trip report on the website - this helps them feel more like part of the club, and increases the likelihood that they'll be running their own trips one day. Thank people for their participation and make everybody (even the slow people) feel good about what they've done. This will make achieving critical mass on your next trip even easier.