Risk and Your Responsabilities – Please read this section

• Mountain activities include inherent risks. Many argue that these risks are an important part of the activity, and that some of the reward of climbing and skiing in the mountains is the successful management of these risks in an inherently dangerous environment. In any case mountain activities are not “safe”, there is always some level of risk.

• As guides, we try to manage risk to acceptable levels. Managing risk to acceptable levels is occasionally very difficult and complex, involving the subjective assessment of many complex and changing variables, and often choosing between multiple “evils”. The difficulty of managing risk is part of what makes mountain guiding a challenging, rewarding, and dangerous career.

• Even if we successfully manage risk to acceptable levels we cannot eliminate it completely. Risk means exposure to hazard; even very low risk still includes some degree of exposure.

• Different individuals have different definitions of “acceptable levels” of risk. Even for a given individual, the acceptable level varies with the rewards of the objective. For example, climbers and skiers on more difficult routes are usually willing to accept higher levels of risk in exchange for the greater rewards offered by achieving the more difficult objective. You need to think about your personal level of acceptable risk for a given objective.

• We, as guides and climbers, also have limits to the levels of risk to which we are willing to expose ourselves. These levels may be higher or lower than yours. We believe that usually, our level of acceptable risk is lower than most of our clients. Guiding is our job, and long-term exposure to risk means that we need to keep such risk low if we want to survive to old age (which we do). However, “usually” does not mean “always”, and you need to speak up if you feel that the risks you are running are not within your definition of acceptability.

• Any member of any climbing team, be they client, guide or recreational climber, should have veto power over any objective. If the perceived level of risk becomes too high for you, then you can turn the party around. In a guided group, there are some limitations to your veto power. If we, as guides feel that it is more risky for the group to accommodate your veto, then it may be overruled.

• If we as guides find the level of risk too high for us (or for what we think is reasonable for you) we, too, can turn the party around. Of course, sometimes it can be less risky to continue on than to retrace our steps, but as guides, it is our job to make such determinations, and to try and convince you of their correctness. Also, in a group trip, such as a ski tour, if you wish to leave a trip you may need to accept levels of risk higher than those with which you are comfortable, in order to reach the next hut, or safe place from which you can leave the program.

• You are responsible for expressing your concern, and even exercising your veto power if the levels of risk become higher than those acceptable to you, or if you feel they may do so. Because we cannot know in advance what your levels of acceptable risk are, you need to tell us if you fear they may be exceeded.

• Assessing and managing risk is part of our job, and we have plenty of experience with it. We may try to talk you out of your fear, if we think it is unreasonable. But at the same time, we also feel that nobody, including ourselves, should be forced to assume risks they believe to be unacceptable.

• During any climb or ski tour, or before or after, if you have questions about the risks we encounter or our assessments of them, please ask us. Believe it or not, we actually like to talk about these things. It is informative for you, a good exercise for us, and we believe leads to better understanding and decision making.