New Guidance for Reopening Mountaineers Programming: Phases 1.5 & 2

The Mountaineers will allow small groups to resume Mountaineers trips and programs during Phases 1.5 & 2 beginning June 6. Learn more about what to expect on your next trip, how to prepare, and what protections are in place to ensure the well-being of our community.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 05, 2020
New Guidance for Reopening Mountaineers Programming: Phases 1.5 & 2

As Washington state continues to reopen, it’s critically important for our community to recreate responsibly. Last week, Governor Inslee announced an expansion of the Washington Safe Start plan that moves Washington through a re-opening on a county-by-county basis. We've adjusted our guidance to align with each county's programs and plan to resume some in-person programming beginning June 6.

updated on June 5, 2020; 2:45pm

In alignment with Safe Start Washington, The Mountaineers has developed a phased re-opening plan for our  programs with programs set to reopen beginning June 6. The Mountaineers is aligned with the state’s county-by-county reopening process, and as an organization, we’ll ask members to consider their county of residence and trip location when choosing to participate. Please visit the COVID-19 Response page for the full program guidance.

In Phases 1.5 & 2, all activities will be required to follow  specific safety guidance and adhere to public health recommendations. We know it’s important for our community to come back together in-person, and we’re working with our team of incredible volunteers to offer opportunities to get you back in the outdoors together as soon as it’s safe to do so. 

Over the last couple of weeks, we've continued to update our guidance for participants and leaders in Mountaineers activities as we've received new guidelines about outdoor recreation from the state. Our full guidance is available on the COVID-19 Response page, and we encourage you to read all materials before signing up for any activities. Please note that this guidance includes an FAQ to provide additional context. The Mountaineers guidance is subject to change as the guidelines set forth by state and local government officials and public health departments continue to evolve. 

When will Phases 1.5 & 2 start? 

Mountaineers in-person programming will begin reopening on June 6. Please stay flexible as plans and guidance may continue to change in the coming weeks.

What do I need to know before signing-up?

Recreating responsibly during the COVID-19 pandemic requires a little additional planning. As you pack for your next adventure, be sure to bring your 10 Essentials plus a cloth face covering and hand sanitizer or biodegradable soap. And remember that all group members are required to have their own personal gear, so triple check your packing list! Group members will be sent home if they are not adequately prepared.

GuidanceMountaineersActivities_Phase 1.5+2.jpg

Click here to download and share a PDF of this infographic.

What protections are in place?

Moving forward, all participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in an in-person Mountaineers program during the Washington State phased restrictions. By agreeing to the Code of Conduct, an individual accepts The Mountaineers current program guidance, affirms they have no COVID-19 symptoms or reason to be quarantined, and indicates they understand the leader’s responsibilities to manage a trip during the pandemic.

Individuals will indicate their agreement in one or more of the following ways:

  • Leaders will select a checkbox agreeing to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct on the website listing page when scheduling their activity or event.
  • Leaders and participants will agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct by pressing the “Continue” button after selecting to register for an event or activity. 
  • Individuals already registered for an activity (or anyone added to the roster by someone else) will receive an email notifying them about the requirement to agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct if they choose to remain on the activity roster. 

What are my responsibilities as a leader?

Leading an activity during the COVID-19 pandemic also requires a little additional planning, as well as a few new responsibilities. Ensure your trip is structured in a way that supports Mountaineers guidance, send participants home if they do not adhere to the guidance, and communicate clear expectations to all participants. Take a look at the sample language we’ve provided in the Mountaineers Phased Guidance section of our Sample Language & Templates page as a starting point.

Perhaps more than anything, especially as we first begin to reopen, be flexible and ask your group to do the same. Consider planning an alternative date for your trip from the get-go and make conservative plans. The state guidelines are changing weekly, if not daily, and running a Mountaineers programs during this time will require both patience and a willingness to adapt. If you have any questions, please reach out to

Who wrote this guidance?

This Phase 1.5 & 2 guidance is the work of our “COVID-19 Re-opening Task Force”. This group of staff and volunteers represent multiple aspects of our organization, as well as many of our partner organizations. 

  • Tom Vogl, CEO - In addition to providing overall organizational leadership and perspective, Tom attends weekly meetings with a national “Recreate Responsibly Task Force” that includes organizations like REI, Washington Trails Association, the Outdoor Industry Association, and the Access Fund. He is also part of a group of about 30 non-profits that span a variety of clientele, to share ideas both in terms of economics and restarting programs. Tom is also working closely with our Outdoor Centers.
  • Betsy Robblee, Conservation & Advocacy Director - In her new position, Betsy has been working closely with land managers as well as local outdoor organizations to help us ensure our guidance is aligned with our key partners. When we all give the same message, we all benefit.
  • Sara Ramsay, Volunteer Development Manager - Sara has been curating ideas, questions, and feedback from all of our activity types. This information has been critical for developing relevant, practical guidance for our leaders. Sara has also helped develop the framework for presenting this material, using other models as references, like the Colorado Mountain Club.
  • Garrett Arnold, Facility Rental & Events Manager - Garrett has been gathering input about all types of facilities  and focusing on CDC guidelines for cleaning and managing exposure. 
  • Andy Bassett, Youth Education Manager - Andy has been working primarily with the youth teams, and has been attending multiple American Camping Association (ACA) calls to make sure our guidance is aligned with ACA and other organizations that run camps. The ACA guidance has been insightful for our other programs, as well.
  • Jerry Logan, Chair of the Risk Management Committee - Jerry is on our Board of Directors and is a seasoned climb leader. He’s offered important perspective both from a risk management lens, as well as a volunteer lens of practical implementation.
  • Becca Polglase, Director of Programs & Operations - Becca’s primary role is facilitator of the task force.
  • Gabe Aeschliman, VP of the Board of Directors - Gabe has served as a reviewer on this project.

Photo by Tim Nair.

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Delores Braaten
Delores Braaten says:
Jun 01, 2020 06:53 AM

Thank you for getting this information out to us!

Is the 125 mile driving range a one-way distance of 125 miles, or is it meant to limit trips closer to our home communities (125 mile round-trip)? Does the organization have any guidance about planning trips to locations that might be in a different phase than our home counties? Is there a single resource that lists which land managers have reopened and what limitations might be in place (day use only, overnight/backpacking open, etc.)? I know each area's status can be different from others of the same category, like Olympic NF vs. Baker/Snoqualmie NF, and it's confusing to remember each.

I'm excited to *finally* start thinking about trips to post! My body is in dire need of trail time.

John Sisco
John Sisco says:
Jun 01, 2020 02:34 PM

I had heard that people over 65 were initally going to be excluded from outings. This is descriminatory and makes no sense. Lots of over 65 people are healthy and should live through the Conov 19 virus like everyone else. However, over 65 people should not partipate if they have a history of the kinds of illnesses that makes them highly suseptable. Perhaps that should be in your guidance agreement.??

The Mountaineers
The Mountaineers says:
Jun 02, 2020 08:37 AM

@Delores - The 125 mile driving radius is one way, and you can find more information in the FAQ document linked from our COVID-19 Response page ( As we begin to open, our guidance is that Mountaineers trips should only visit counties that have reached our current Mountaineers operating phase (noted at the top of the COVID-19 Response page) or beyond. The Mountaineers is also consolidating information about public lands on our blog (, but we recommend leaders check individual land manager’s websites for the most up-to-date information. We’re excited to see you back out on the trail, hopefully sometime soon!

The Mountaineers
The Mountaineers says:
Jun 02, 2020 08:38 AM

@John - The Mountaineers is aligning our program guidance with Washington State. Individuals who are considered to be high-risk, as defined by the CDC, are strongly encouraged by the State of Washington to stay home and stay healthy until Phase 4. As always, we expect all leaders and participants to use good judgement when choosing to attend Mountaineers programs - both for their individual safety, as well as the safety of the group. In short, while we're encouraging individuals to follow the state guidance for high-risk populations, we’re not categorically restricting individuals who are considered to be high-risk from participating in our programs. The choice of participation is ultimately up to each individual, so long as all other program guidance is met.

marsha hury
marsha hury says:
Jun 04, 2020 10:16 PM

Hi from Thurston county,
I have a question: How did you decide on 8 hikers per group in Covid phase 2 ? The governor’s guide states 5 or less for all recreation.
Thank you,

Sara Ramsay
Sara Ramsay says:
Jun 05, 2020 05:20 PM

@Marsha - In Phase 2, The Mountaineers is aligning with the Washington State guidance for Outdoor Recreation for Guided Outdoor Activities, which states: “In Phase 2, groups of mixed households allowed, with a maximum of 8 households and a maximum of 12 individuals in a group.” Programs that normally enroll families together will follow this guidance. Programs that normally enroll individuals will have a maximum of 8. You can find more information in our FAQ document, which includes a link to this update from the state.

Rena Chinn
Rena Chinn says:
Jun 05, 2020 09:40 PM

Is the recommendation not to carpool together?

Sara Ramsay
Sara Ramsay says:
Jun 08, 2020 10:15 AM

@Rena - Yes, our guidance is: "Carpooling is not recommended, unless you are attending a program with someone from your household." There is additional information about how we came to that guidance in the FAQ document!