Dear friends, clients, past course participants and our followers on social media and through our newsletters or blog,
I write this onboard an EasyJet ‘rescue’ flight from Morocco. Our group flew out 6 days ago with no travel restrictions advised and yet, within the space of a blissful few days in the Atlas Mountains, we returned to a Marrakech largely locked down and the upcoming closure of Marrakech Menara airport. We saw the best and worst of people (there’s some interesting stories about our few days in and around Menara airport but they will have to wait for another time!) trying to get home and saw real fear and panic in those around us. All our worlds are being rapidly turned upside down and I wish you all well over the coming period.
Of course, no one knows what both the immediate, medium or long term future looks like and, like many of you, we are anxious about our businesses, our family and friends and the wider community. It is a worrying and uncertain time for all. But you know all that stuff already, and so the real reason for this posting is to explain our plans in terms of upcoming courses and events, expeditions and events like our Pick & Play.
We see the opportunity for many of you to escape to the hills and mountains to be a great tonic in the coming months and so we want to strike the right balance between ‘social distancing’ and offering the benefits that can be gained by time in the outdoors. With regard to upcoming courses we will contact anyone booked on a course individually. As government advice is changing on an almost daily basis we are aware we will need to keep adapting our provision accordingly. Here is the current state of play......
FIRST AID COURSES
We are still hopeful of delivering some upcoming first aid courses. With the support of our brilliant awarding body (ITC First), our level headed venues and some creativity in delivery and assessment methods, we feel confident we can still offer training - in the very near future at least.
We have weighed up the pros and cons of this and realise this option isn’t risk free, but we are also aware that many clients need a valid first aid qualification and we want to help them gain these as long as we can. We will be contacting all clients booked on upcoming courses to discuss options individually with them.
We realise many people will prefer to reschedule their training and we are more than happy to do that for them too. Everyone has a choice and we will honour that. If and when the government guidance changes we will need to adapt this plan accordingly. We will certainly be imposing strict guidelines for anyone looking to attend a course and will discuss these individually with clients, but let’s see if we can make this work.
OUTDOOR AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT COURSES
We have made the difficult decision to reschedule all courses until the end of April and will be looking at the situation in mid April to decide on the best way forward. All courses members will be contacted individually.
It breaks my heart that the local people we work with in various parts of the world will be facing a desperately difficult time over the coming months. I know it will be very difficult for all of us, but with generally poorer health care options and little government support available, the future looks very difficult for our staff and friends in places like Nepal, India, Morocco and Russia.
As mentioned above, we had to leave Morocco as quickly as we could and our second group of Atlas Mountain mountaineers had to abandon their plans to join us as travel guidance changed (we will be discussing round 2 with them very soon). This meant that we had to leave our local staff with little warning. We were pleased to be able to pay them for the missed group, but there is absolutely no more work available for them now until the situation improves.
There is nothing we can do about this in the short term, but we do want to get back to work with them as soon as we can. We are going to be looking at dates for expeditions later this year and next and will get information out to you all as soon as we can. We all need something to look forward too and hope we can entice you to join us on a trip in the near future. We have some new destinations and objectives planned - let’s get through this and look forward to some new adventures together.
PICK AND PLAY EVENTS
We need to reschedule this. We have discussed it with our event sponsors and our partners and, as much as we want to run this fantastic event on its usual May date, we obviously must put health and safety first. The good news is that we have already a provisional new date for September 20th and will update you soon on the exciting developments for this year. If the crisis means we have to postpone longer then so be it - but let’s hope the situation is improved enough to get back in action by then.
In the meantime, we are busy setting up our litter collection equipment loan scheme and we’ll have information live about this in the coming days. If you are out for a walk and want to do some individual litter collection this is the perfect way. Please look out for a separate blog post and social media posting about this soon.
Well, we can all be sure that the next few months are going to be difficult - desperately difficult. Everyone’s priorities need to be about looking after ourselves, our loved ones and helping our communities.
For Peak Mountaineering and Tor Lea Training we also see it as a chance to plan, streamline systems and look forward. We also hope that, although we all face very worrying times, by coming together we can hopefully create a better future. Here are some of our plans so far (this is evolving as we dream up new ideas!).....
- We have vehicles and we have a community that will benefit from some help. We’ll try and offer as much support as we can to family, friends and our neighbours and villagers. There are a lot of people that need support and we want to be there for them.
- We will be supporting local and buying local. It’s another way we can help our local communities.
- We have long planned a series of video guides to everything from techniques to equipment choice and yet we’ve never got around to putting these together. Maybe now is the time we’ll get them done. We’ll keep you posted.
- We have lots of blog post ideas and gear reviews to finish. You’ll soon be bombarded!
- This is a time when we all need cheering up and so we are dreaming up some quizzes and competitions to give us chance to shift focus for a while. The first one will be live by the end of this week.
- Other than all that, we have a lot of behind the scenes stuff that will benefit from this enforced downtime - our new website is ‘oh so close’ to being finished, new expeditions will benefit from some planning time and there is a LOT of background systems and paperwork that will really welcome some attention. We might even get around to the long planned upgrade of our office!
Lastly, we are all in this together. If you have any ideas on things we can do, ways we can help or ways we can collaborate we’d really love to hear from you. Keep in touch and let’s make this situation as positive as we can.
So, I’m very sorry for the rambling post (but that’s what free time, a Macbook on an EasyJet flight gets you!). I hope I haven’t gone on too much. Please take care of yourselves, look after each other and don’t overbuy toilet paper - we will get through this better by working together. We’ll get through this.