Well this is a thoroughly unpleasant, and slightly scary blog to have to keep on updating, but with the global spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’ll keep you up to date on how the events are impacting our trips, and to try and answer any of your trip queries.
In the meantime, rest assured that we’re following all the latest government advice, to both look after you and our team too. During these unprecedented times, we’ll work to support you as best we can, and ask that you remember that we’re all personally facing the same uncertainties you are. Let’s get through this!
In the meantime #DontPanicBuyToiletRolls 😉
Below each COVID-19 post, is what you’ve been searching for all along – the dire situation regarding Cumbria’s toilet rolls, and our secret stash…
02 April 2020 – Icicle COVID-19 update
NEWS – We hope that lockdown is treating you well, and that you are surviving home working / furlough, or hat’s off to you if you’re a key worker or NHS super-hero! We were going to post an update yesterday, but remembered it was April Fools day at the last moment, and didn’t want anyone to get confused.
SUMMER TRIPS – If you have a summer Alpine trip booked in June with us (only the full weeks of 14-20 and 21-27 June), we can offer a FREE transfer of dates to later this summer season, if you are worried about your trip, subject to availability. If you want to investigate options for this, please e-mail us.
FITNESS – Unless you work for the NHS or are a key worker, there’s absolutely no excuse for letting your mountain fitness slip during lockdown. Whether you’re exercising in your underpants in front of Joe Wicks (link) on TV, or are getting your state sanctioned daily dose of running, there’s plenty of scope for keeping fit. A runner even completed a half-marathon on his balcony (link). In the next days, we’re going to post about how to keep mountain fit whilst in lockdown, and will share the advice here, and on our social media channels.
TOILET ROLL NEWS – One week of lockdown is done, so they’re in the last two weeks of their lives, unless there’s an extension. Their jubilation has worn off, and they’re staring forlornly out of the window.
23 March 2020 – Icicle COVID-19 update
LOCKDOWN – This morning we made the decision to close our Windermere shop and office, ahead of the evening confirmation from the Government that the country was officially locked down for the next three weeks at least. The office phones may have fallen silent, as we work from home, but we’re available online with any queries, and for any online shop orders. Please keep us busy!
MOUNTAIN RESCUE – There are please from all UK mountain rescue teams, to stay off the hills, and in doing so to do your bit. One infected person could effectively put a whole rescue team into isolation, let alone put extra pressure on the NHS. Whilst our hearts may still be in the mountains, it’s time to #StaySafeStayHome.
TOILET ROLL NEWS – They’re saved! Lockdown have given them a reprieve from almost certain usage. They’re now praying for a long lockdown. I don’t like their smug attitude.
19 March 2020 – Icicle COVID-19 update
WINTER TRIPS – This morning we have e-mailed all those on our winter 2019/20 trips affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, to explore options for them. If you are on an affected trip, please check your e-mail inbox.
SUMMER TRIPS – If you are booked on a trip with us this summer, the situation is evolving so rapidly, that to discuss plans or how trips could be affected is completely hypothetical. At present we are assuming that all summer trips are currently going ahead. Due to the understandable concern of those on winter trips in the coming weeks, please allow our stretched resources to solely deal with those due to travel before the end of April. Once we’ve assisted all those on winter trips, hopefully the position will be clearer for the summer season, and we can engage in better informed discussions then. As no summer Alpine trips are due until mid-June, no trip balances are normally owed until mid-April at earliest. We are offsetting trip balance payment deadlines for the for those early summer trips (June dates only), until one month before travel. With this sensible adaption of our terms, we will discuss summer courses from early May.
OPTIMISM – Recent reports indicate that there is an almost complete halt in new cases in China, which gives us some hope that if we all socially distance and / or self-isolate, that there is the hope that we can emerge from this virus sooner rather than later. If we all do our bit, there’s the hope that we can return to the mountains again soon.
TOILET ROLL NEWS – Today I couldn’t help but stare at those toilet rolls. Perhaps it was a draft of air through the old window that made them tremble, but I don’t think so. Quite rightly they are very scared. Their fellow loo rolls have completely abandoned the shelves of the local supermarkets. Their days must now sadly be numbered.
17 March 2020 – Icicle COVID-19 update
FCO ADVISORY – This morning the FCO has now advised against all but essential travel abroad, for a period of at least 30 days. We don’t yet know the implications of this with regards to insurance claims, but will update when we know. Contact your insurers in the meantime if you are affected. News; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51924405
ACTIVITIES & TRAVEL INSURANCE – If you obtained activities & travel insurance before the implications of Coronavirus impacted on Europe, you should in most cases be able to claim off your insurance for travel disruption, and the associated closure of any mountain infrastructure required for your trip, such as cable cars or huts. Any new insurance taken out, will likely have a clause absolving the insurers of any cover for the impacts of COVID-19. In the first instance, get in contact with your insurers to check what the situation is.
TOILET ROLL NEWS – The supermarkets are still without any loo rolls on the shelves, so our secret stash is getting worried. I don’t know if it was just my imagination, or if they’d huddled together a little closer, trying to be un-noticed on the side of the ledge, slightly shielded by the stack of climbing mags. I’m watching you two, closer than ever now.
16 March 2020 – Icicle COVID-19 update
ICICLE SUMMER ALPINE TRIPS – A few people have been in contact to enquire about the possibility of cancelling their Summer Alpine trip, some with a request for full refunds. At this stage there is no knowing how the pandemic will evolve, and no advisories or FCO advice stretches to this timescale yet. With this in mind, none of our Summer Alpine trips are cancelled, so if you decide to cancel your space(s), our normal terms of booking would apply (link). In most cases at this stage, this would mean a loss of deposit paid. You may wish to make enquiries with your travel and activities insurance policy provider, to determine if you can claim off that if you decide to cancel.
OFFICE – We’re following government advice, and trying to maximise home working for our office team. This has understandably had a huge impact on our ability to answer all phone calls, so we ask you to please do your bit to help us a little, and put any enquiries via e-mail, rather than calling us.
MEETINGS – In addition to home working, we have currently suspended all trip advice meetings in our Windermere office, to follow medical advice on social distancing.
TOILET ROLL NEWS – Booths Windermere is completely out. Fear not, our secret office stash (2 rolls) are sitting on the window ledge, looking out, and wondering what’s going on with the world. Their self-isolation has no bounds, but at least there’s a few climbing magazines left on the ledge that they can flick through when they get bored.
15 March 2020 – Icicle COVID-19 update
WINTER HAUTE ROUTE SKI TOUR TRIPS – Currently there is NO advisory from the FCO against “all but essential travel” to France, or Switzerland. However, there now is an advisory against travel to Italy, not that this impacts on Haute Route tours, but we mention it in case you had travel plans via the country.
There is a current complete closure of cable cars and lifts in both France (https://www.chamonix.com/lifts-and-special-information,88,en.html) and Switzerland (https://www.zermatt.ch/en/liveticker). Swiss mountain huts are currently closed (https://www.sac-cas.ch/en/the-sac/coronavirus-22225/).
Will all this advice, there is understandably no clear end date of any restrictions. Some websites cite a possible date as the end of March, others a complete closure for the whole winter season. The honest answer is that we don’t yet know!
At present that means that all Haute Route ski tours in March are currently confirmed as cancelled, but for the dates in April, they are currently still potentially going ahead, but we don’t know yet.
Whilst we all wait for some more clarity, we ask all trip participants to contact their travel and activites insurer, to seek advice as to what level of cover they have if they choose to cancel / if the FCO advisory changes / or if country borders are closed. We’re monitoring the situation continuously, and will let you know if there’s any news.
TOILET ROLL NEWS – Booths Windermere is nearly out. OMG the catastrophe has no end. There is one pack of ‘Cheeky Panda’ bog roll, but apparently the discerning shoppers don’t wish to wipe their bum on a panda, or anything associated with ‘the source of that bug’. Good to see that common sense has been flushed away too!
13 March 2020 – Icicle COVID-19 update
Many people are contacting us for trip status updates, and options for them to consider. Here is our latest update;
MARCH TRIPS – Today following the latest advice and actions (Governmental, WHO, and sporting bodies), we are cancelling all Alpine trips this month up to and including Thursday 02 April 2020, where stays are required (not optional) in mountain huts. This only affects hut-to-hut ski tours (e.g. Haute Route), where social distancing is impossible in the close confines of mountain huts. All those booked on these trips will receive a full refund from Icicle for all monies paid. This will be organised via our tour operator travel bonding with the Travel Trust Association.
ITALY – All our trips that were scheduled to visit Italy at all, are cancelled for this Winter season 2019/20. All those booked on these courses have been contacted, and offered either a transfer to another trip, or a full refund of all monies paid to Icicle.
US GUESTS – Yesterday the US government announced a ban on all flights directly (or indirectly) from mainland Europe. All US citizens who are booked on a trip, need to seek advice from their airline as to whether their travel plans are affected.
SUMMER TRIPS – Currently we are hopeful that the Alpine summer season will be unaffected by Coronavirus, and that trips will all go ahead as planned, due to the recent effectiveness of the lockdowns in North Italy which have stemmed new cases. As you will see from this update, we will take no risks, nor breach guidelines. We ask you to be flexible, as we are, and should one region still be advised against, we will adapt our itineraries to only visit areas where there are no advisories against. For example a Summer Intro where an ascent of Gran Paradiso (Italy) is planned, could easily be adapted to climb Weissmeiss (Switzerland) or other objectives instead. Rest assured we’re working hard to look after your health and safety, and all those who work with us.
COMMON QUERIES – There are three groups of enquires regarding COVID-19 that we have received;
1) Will my Winter 2019/20 trip be cancelled? Aside of the decision to cancel all hut-to-hut ski tour trips this month, in the coming weeks we have Alpine trips visiting France and Switzerland. Currently there are no travel advisories against either country, and mountain infrastructure (cable cars etc) are planning to open as normal. France; https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/coronavirus-advice-for-visitors-to-france/, and Switzerland; https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/switzerland/health#coronavirus. If the advice remains unchanged, the trips are still going ahead, and will not be cancelled. We believe that responsible social distancing can be maintained on these trips, though if you wish to transfer to a date later in the season, where this is possible, no transfer fees will be levied.
2) Does my insurance cover me? No travel insurance will provide you with specific cover for COVID-19 and its impacts, as they would be classified as force majeure. You may wish to investigate if your insurance would give any cover for you should the travel advisories change whilst you are travelling, such as the US travel ban on flights from mainland Europe, or country-wide lockdowns and quarantines such as Italy.
3) Can I be refunded if I wish to cancel? Keep an eye on the FCO advice for the countries you plan to visit. If there is not a warning against ‘all but essential travel’, then your trip will go ahead, and our standard terms of cancellation would apply, should a transfer of dates not be desired or available. If the FCO advice changes, and advises against travel to the region / country, the trip will be cancelled, and all monies paid by you to Icicle will be refunded.
TOILET ROLL NEWS – There’s still plenty of loo roll in Windermere, but news is reaching us of empty shelves in nearby Kendal. When will the secret get out, and the hoarders head here in their vans to take all our precious loo roll? We’re fine for now, but evoking our inner Gollum, stroking our plentiful supply (2 rolls), muttering “My precious, my precious, you are not for horrible other people’ses bottom’ses, are you my precious?”.
For more details on your rights as a traveller, please visit this simple article from the BBC; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51615412
Please keep monitoring the situation via the media, and we will provide further updates as required. As before, personal hygiene and reasonable social distancing, keep being advised by all governments and medical professionals.
Do get in contact with us, if you have any queries, but we hope this update helps put your mind at rest that we are doing everything to keep you safe, that we’re being highly flexible to adapt to advice, and that we’re constantly monitoring the advice.
Stay safe, and we hope to see you in the mountains!
The Icicle Team
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