Safety & Risk Awareness
Mountain biking and other activities that take place in wilderness areas involve the risk of injury. Please follow the link to familiarize yourself with the possible hazards.
At Retallack safety is our number one priority. We are regarded as an industry leader in terms of safety and rescue skills. All of our professional guides are trained in guiding, client care, wildlife risk management, advanced first aid, advanced rescue, and are intimate with our rescue plan. Many of our staff are also certified Non-Urban Outdoor Emergency Care Technicians trained in Advanced Protocols and medication administration that operate under the oversight of our Medical Directors.
We have extensive experience with safety wrangling and site location / construction for action sports films, competitions, and photoshoots. In addition, we interoperate closely with other emergency medical services and undergo extensive external safety audits every five years. In our most recent audit, we once again achieved full marks. The following provides an additional overview regarding key elements of our Mountain Safety Program.
COVID-19 & Infectious Disease
Please refer to our infectious disease management protocols and safety plan here.
At Retallack, we utilize off-road vehicles and helicopters to access our backcountry terrain. All of our drivers and pilots are qualified to operate these machines. In addition, we utilize certified mechanics. Each morning and evening, our vehicles undergo a safety inspection.
Our drivers are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles operate as efficiently and safely as possible without affecting the environment. Prior to boarding, each of our guests will be trained on vehicle safety procedures. At Retallack, we occasionally utilize ATVs during the course of our mountain operations. All staff members are required to adhere to our strict operating protocols regarding ATV safety.
All Retallack guides, drivers, and pilots, as well as the lodge and office staff have radios and satellite phones with them all day. Our radio repeater system is strategically placed to provide reliable communication throughout our backcountry environment. Retallack Lodge constantly monitors the radio channels and the location of each vehicle. Each driver must maintain regular contact and report which trail and the number of riders descending for each trail
Retallack Lodge is equipped with redundant communication systems including: two separate satellite communication networks, VHF radio, Internet (WIFI and Ethernet access), and backup satellite phones. If outside assistance is required, we are able to access E-Comm, a 911 call centre that provides emergency communication services, dispatch, and support systems to emergency responders and the two-million residents of southwest B.C.
Guest Training & Preparation
At Retallack we take the safety of our guests and staff very seriously and we continuously strive to minimize the risks inherent to the backcountry. However, there are many factors that we cannot eliminate. Prior to your trip you will be asked to accept these risks in writing by signing a “Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims, Assumption of Risks and Indemnity Agreement” before being allowed to go mountain biking with us. A properly and fully completed waiver is required from each guest prior to your trip.
Each guest is provided a Retallack backpack, a BCA Tracker DTS avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe, and guest radio. You will be trained on the proper use of this equipment and will be required to carry this at all times while in our backcountry environment. Each Retallack guide carries a pack with avalanche safety gear, rescue equipment, and a first aid kit. Our snowcats are also equipped with additional specialized rescue / medical gear and backup satellite phones.
Each Retallack guide carries a pack with bike repair gear, rescue equipment, and a first aid kit. Our vehicles are also equipped with additional specialized rescue and medical gear and backup satellite phones.
It is imperative that you give full attention to your guide’s instructions at all times. You and your guide are in a position of mutual trust. Your guide trusts you to follow their instructions, and to stay within the parametres they set. Following instructions and riding with caution are the best ways to prevent injury or incident.
The safety briefings and training you receive upon arrival will explain the risks of backcountry mountain biking as well as safety in and around our vehicles. These briefings are designed to enable you to understand our safety protocols and allow you to participate with us in managing them to the fullest extent possible.
All of our guides are professionals who undergo exacting training in which client care and judgement are the primary focus. Every day at Retallack, each group has a van driver, a guide, tail guide, and on helicopter days, a pilot. Occasionally, we also utilize a trail maintenance team that operate separately from the riding program. Observations are shared daily between all Retallack Mountain Safety Team members.
Retallack’s Lead Guide helps facilitate guest safety and the mountain biking program. The Lead Guide is responsible for working with each guide, driver, pilot, and the trail maintenance team to maximize the safety and enjoyment of our guest’s experience. All of our guides must continuously strive to improve their skills – including people skills!
Rescue & Medical Control
At Retallack, we recognize that we are part of an extended emergency chain of care. As such, we actively work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), British Columbia Ambulance Service, local hospitals and other emergency services. We have established helicopter evacuation agreements and have access to critical incident stress personnel. Many of our staff are certified Non-Urban Outdoor Emergency Care Technicians trained in Advanced Protocols / medication administration and they operate under the oversight of our Medical Directors. All of our medical protocols are evidence-based and have been tailored for our operating environment.
All of our guides are equipped with guide packs containing first aid, rescue and bike maintenance gear. All of our vehicles are equipped with additional rescue equipment including mountain extrication gear such as stretchers, ropes, and backup communication gear. Doctor’s kits and defibrillators are also available to our staff. All rescues and extrications are conducted according to our strict operating protocols.
At Retallack, we strive to maintain a culture of continuous quality improvement. As such, all of our rescue and medical control systems undergo continuous internal and external review.
Continued Professional Development
All of our staff members are required to undergo continued professional development. Mountain safety professional development occurs through internal training programs as well external training conducted by associations such as Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, the Canadian Ski Guide Association, the Canadian Avalanche Association, and Peak Emergency Training. In an effort to encourage best practices, we also actively encourage other backcountry operators to visit and share their experiences with us.