1. A “course” is defined as any trip which takes place within the European Economic Area or Switzerland and for which an international flight between the United Kingdom and the destination country is not offered as part of the package.
2. An “expedition” is defined as any trip which takes place outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland or where the package being offered for sale includes an option of purchasing an international flight between the United Kingdom and the destination country (whether such flight is in fact purchased by you or not).
3. An “extension” is any short tour that is so described on the website or in the brochure, which is priced separately and is bought as an optional add-on to a “course” or an “expedition”.
4. An “extension” may only be bought by you if a booking for a “course” or an “expedition”, to which it can be attached, exists in your name.
5. “Trip” is used interchangeably within these booking conditions to mean either an “expedition” or “course”.
6. “Guide” is used to describe anyone employed by the Company, whether in an instructional capacity, Mountain Guiding capacity, or trip leader.
7. All bookings are made with Avalanche Academy Limited, Registered Company Number 07782093 (hereinafter referred to as the Company) whose registered office is Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2NT, United Kingdom.
8. You are advised to take out travel insurance when you book, to protect you in some circumstances if you have to cancel.
9. The contract between you and the Company will come into existence once the company has issued to you a letter/e mail confirming your booking, an invoice and all relevant additional information, being either an expedition dossier or course joining instructions, as appropriate.
10. The contract will continue until the expedition or course, along with any booked extension, has ended but such expiry shall not affect accrued rights and liabilities of the parties nor any continuing obligations.
11. Once your booking has been confirmed, you must promptly submit, if required according to the itinerary you have booked, via the website or by post, a previous experience questionnaire and a medical declaration.
12. After reviewing these, the Company may advise you to transfer to another trip, or cancel your booking. If you are so advised, you must transfer or cancel, as advised, but may do so without penalty as long as the date your completed forms are received is within one month of the date you booked and no later than the date on which your final balance for the trip is due, as shown on the invoice you received when your booking was confirmed.
13. If the Company receives your forms outside of these time limits, no matter when you booked, the normal cancellation and transfer conditions will apply and you will be liable for the appropriate charges.
14. Extensions to expedition itineraries and course programmes can be purchased separately. The arrangements for extensions are made on an individual basis once a booking is made. Extensions are subject to a separate deposit. Confirmation of receipt by the Company of your extension deposit will not be confirmation of your extension as it will not be possible at that time for the Company to confirm that the booked extension will be available or that it will be identical to that shown in the marketing material. The Company will confirm all of the arrangements to you before you pay your final balance (which will be due at the same time as the final balance for the expedition or course to which it is an extension). Should the confirmed extension itinerary be significantly different to the published one then you will be free to cancel the extension only (not the expedition or course, to which it is attached) and a refund will be made.
15. The aim of medical screening is to enable participation and to ensure, as far as is reasonable, that all risks have been evaluated and understood. If you have any medical problem or disability, you are required to inform the Company before you complete your booking form so that you can be advised of the suitability of the trip, health and safety considerations and what, if any, reasonable adjustments are required to be made. In any event, you must notify the Company via the medical declaration of any medical problems or disabilities. If any medical problems or disabilities are suffered or arise between the medical declaration being submitted and the Departure Date you must notify the Company immediately. The Company reserves the right to decline or cancel a booking without having to pay any compensation if:
i) any medical problem or disability likely to affect your participation is disclosed on the medical declaration form;
ii) any medical problem or disability is disclosed after the medical declaration form is submitted but before the Departure Date; or
iii) any medical problem or disability is not disclosed; provided that in the Company's belief such medical problem or disability is likely to endanger your health and safety and/ or the health and safety of anyone else participating in the trip.
16. The Company may require you to obtain confirmation from a medical professional that you are fit to travel and participate in the trip. You acknowledge and agree that concerning your medical welfare the Company has a duty to you and to the other participants and, as such, if the Company reasonably believes that you are not sufficiently fit to take part in the trip, the Company may decline or cancel the booking at any time at their complete discretion.
17. Where you have come into contact with any infectious disease you must notify the Company immediately. Where the Departure Date falls within the accepted quarantine period for transmission of the disease, the Company reserves the right to cancel the booking as set out above; this shall be deemed to be cancellation arising from an event of Force Majeure pursuant to these terms and conditions and no compensation shall be payable to you.
18. You may pay your deposit and balance using any lawful means. The total amount received by the Company's bank must be no less than the full amount shown on your invoice, and paid in the invoiced denomination into the appropriate account of that same denomination. If sending money by electronic (bank) transfer then you must pay the remitter's (your) fees and the beneficiaries (the Company's) fees.
19. If payment is made by credit card, a 2% charge will be added to the total amount due to the Company (this applies to all payments including deposits, interim payments, balances and miscellaneous purchases.) For courses under 7 days these charges will not be levied. This amount is to cover the charges imposed by the credit card payment service provider and is used, in part, to provide consumer protection for goods and services purchased, in accordance with the terms and conditions pertaining to the credit card being used. This charge can be avoided by using a debit card (for deposits, for example) or by sending a Sterling or Euro cheque (for balances). Cheques will not be accepted in any other denominations; please arrange a banker's draft or bank transfer instead.
20. Any interim payment and the final balance for your trip, and for any extension booked along with it, must reach the Company by no later than the due date (the due date for the final balance is shown on the invoice you receive when your booking is confirmed).
21. In the unlikely event that it becomes necessary to amend the price of the trip, the following conditions will apply:
i) Increases arising directly from transportation costs such as surcharges levied by airlines, the cost of fuel, taxes, duties or fees chargeable for services such as landing taxes or embarkation or disembarkation fees at ports and airports and fluctuation in exchange rates may be passed on and you will be invoiced accordingly;
ii) If increases become necessary, you may cancel your booking without penalty if the increase amounts to more than 10% of the cost of the trip;
iii) You will not be charged for any increase of up to 2% of the price of the trip and in the event that the price of the trip goes down by more than 2% the difference will be repaid to you (though you should note that owing to the way the Company pays for trips, some apparent changes will not impact on the price of the trip; the Company tries to give you the advantage of any predicted benefit in the exchange rate with a competitive price from the outset).
22. Notice of cancellation by you must be given in writing/e mail. Should you cancel, the following scale of charges will apply:
i) For courses under 3 days duration: 42 days or more before the course starts – 50% of total course cost. Less than 42 days before the course starts - 100% of the total course cost.
ii) For courses of 3-6 days duration: 42 days or more before the course starts - loss of deposit (20% of total cost). 21 days or more but less than 42 days before the course starts - 50% of total course cost. Less than 21 days before the course starts - 100% of the total course cost.
ii) For trips of more than 7 days duration: 60 days or more before the Departure Date - loss of deposit (20%). 30 days or more but less than 60 days before the Departure Date - loss of 30% of total trip cost. Less than 30 days before the Departure Date - loss of 100% of total trip cost.
23. Similar terms are adopted throughout the travel industry and cover the costs of advance payments made by the Company. Cancellation charges may be covered, in part, by your travel insurance provided the reason for cancellation falls within the terms of the policy.
24. After your booking has been confirmed, if you wish to transfer from one trip to another of the same type (i.e. expedition to expedition, course to course), an administration charge of £20 per person, per booking, will be payable. At the same time, you must pay any costs that the Company has incurred in respect of your booking, such as deposits paid to airlines or agents, if these are neither refundable nor transferable. Transfers between trips are entirely at the Company's discretion and in any event will not be affected until all such fees and costs are received by the Company.
25. Transfer requests must be received by the Company in writing/e mail at its registered office and before the balance due date. A transfer request after this point will be treated as a cancellation and the transfer fee will not be accepted.
26. You cannot transfer from an expedition for which the deposit is more than £300 (or the equivalent in foreign currency). You cannot transfer a booking from an expedition to a course. However nothing in this condition shall prevent you from transferring your place on the trip to another individual in accordance with these terms and conditions, as long as that individual matches or exceeds the requirements of the trip in terms of previous experience.
27. You may transfer your booking more than once, as long as you pay the transfer fee on each separate occasion, at the rate prevailing at the time of payment, and pay any costs incurred by the Company in respect of each booking held. The final trip to which your original deposit is transferred must start within 18 calendar months of the start date of the trip originally booked. Failure to travel within this time will be taken as a cancellation of the original booking, regardless of the payment of any transfer fees or costs in the intervening period. Under such circumstances, the deposit and any money paid to affect a transfer, or transfers, will be forfeited.
28. The Company receives regular travel advice from the United Kingdom Foreign Office (the ‘FO') and will not knowingly operate trips in contravention of such advice. In the event of civil unrest in a particular region, the Company undertakes to inform clients of the situation as soon as it has knowledge of it.
29. A trip may be cancelled if FO advice effectively puts the destination country or significant parts of the country out-of-bounds such as to make the principal objective unachievable. If the principal objective remains achievable in observance of FO advice, the itinerary will be altered and the trip will not be cancelled. For example, the FO may advise that it is unsafe to traverse an area which lies on the published approach route (whether by trek or vehicle), or to visit a specified town. In such circumstances, if the objective can be reached by using an alternative route, that will be done and the trip will not be cancelled.
30. If the FO does not issue unambiguous advice against travel, a disinclination to travel on the basis of a perceived threat or hazard, howsoever formed, will be interpreted as a cancellation and the cancellation charges set out in these booking conditions will apply. This does not affect your right to transfer between trips under the terms of these booking conditions.
31. Non-UK Nationals should consult their own government for advice on travel to the destination country and all countries transited en route. The Company will not be bound by the advice of such foreign governments, nor will any of these booking conditions be waived, save where such advice coincides with the advice of the FO.
32. A Trip may be cancelled as a result of an event of Force Majeure, which are events which are unforeseeable and beyond the Company's control including but not limited to war, riot, industrial dispute, terrorist activity, natural or nuclear disaster, fire, epidemics or health risks, closed or congested airports, ports or stations, changes imposed by re-scheduling or cancellation of transport, adverse weather conditions (whether actual or threatened) avalanche, storm, flood, typhoon, hurricane and technical failure with any form of transport or facility.
33. Team/course/group sizes described in any publication or on the website are target sizes and may be increased or decreased at the discretion of the Company. The Company gives no undertaking as to the minimum or maximum size of a team, course or group, but do undertake to ensure that Leaders, Guides, Instructors and support staff are supplied in appropriate numbers to ensure the principle objectives of the expedition or course can be achieved. Similarly, Leaders, Guides, Instructors and support staff named in tour descriptions, anywhere in the literature or on the website, may also be changed at any time.
34. The Company reserves the right to cancel any expedition, course or extension which does not have sufficient people taking part to make it financially viable, or to cancel your participation alone if not to do so would result in a financial penalty. By the same token, The Company will endeavour to ensure that a trip runs if at all possible. If your booking is likely to be cancelled under such circumstances, the Company undertakes to inform you as soon as possible.
35. Anyone booked onto a trip which is cancelled by the Company will be entitled to a full refund or entitled to transfer to another trip and no transfer fee will be payable. Should you transfer to another trip any difference in price will be invoiced or credited accordingly.
36. The programmes published in the literature and on the website are designed to be illustrative in order to best explain the scope and type of activities you will be undertaking. During a trip, every effort will be made to adhere to the planned itinerary but it must be realised that with adventurous activities of this type, or by being in the developing world, or by being in mountainous areas, or by visiting regions with limited infrastructure by virtue of their remoteness or otherwise, or with worldwide travel in general, changes to the itinerary will occur. As such, circumstances may arise where the Company are forced to alter dates, trip duration, flight schedules, trekking routes, mountains to be climbed, locations visited or hotel accommodation, either during or before a trip has commenced, possibly at short notice. Whilst the Company will try to inform you of any such changes as soon as they know of them, they accept no liability for, or the consequences of, any such changes.
37. In assessing the conditions expected to be encountered in the mountains or the abilities of the team members, the Guide (or deputies with delegated authority) may decide to change any aspect of the trip if he or she believes that to continue with the itinerary or activities, or any latterly agreed alternatives, would place anyone at undue risk. Alternatively, he or she may make changes for the simple belief that such changes may be more enjoyable or better suited or beneficial for most of those taking part. The Guide will review and may alter the programme as the trip progresses in response to the changing influence of variable factors.
38. The Guide (or deputies with delegated authority) will do his or her utmost to ensure that any problems are solved for the benefit of the majority of those taking part. Signing (whether physically, or electronically) the booking form signifies your acceptance of the Guide's authority to make decisions affecting the group or individuals. For instance, the Guide may require an individual or individuals to leave the trip if he or she believes that a person, or a person's health, is at risk, if an illegal act has been or may be committed, or behaviour may become, or has been, detrimental to the safety, enjoyment or well-being of the group or of any individual within the group.
39. A client leaving a trip at any stage, for whatever reason, will not be entitled to any refund or to compensation unless agreed by a Director of the Company.
40. Many trips involve going to high-altitude and carry an inherent risk of altitude illness. Similarly, many trips visit remote locations or poorly developed regions where infrastructure is limited. In such places, the risks to health are increased and the ability to treat injury or illness effectively is reduced. Additionally, anything that involves crossing glaciated terrain or snow-bound passes, or travel on skis, are hazardous activities with a risk of serious injury or death. By signing (whether physically, or electronically) these booking conditions you acknowledge these hazards and your acceptance of the associated risks.
41. Neither the Company nor any of their representatives will be responsible for any illness, injury or death sustained on their trips, except where such illness, injury or death is caused by their negligence or that of their representatives, nor will they be liable for any uninsured loss of personal property.
42. Subject to the provisions of clause 40, the Company's liability in tort, contract or otherwise, shall be limited to three times the price payable for an individual's participation. The Company's liability will also be limited in accordance with and/or in an identical manner to any relevant international Convention (for example, the Montreal Convention in respect of travel by air, the Athens Convention in respect of travel by sea, the Berne Convention in respect of travel by rail and the Paris Convention in respect of the provision of accommodation) which limit the amount of compensation that you can claim for death, injury, delay to passengers and loss, damage and delay to luggage.
43. Some trips, especially expeditions, have days in the itinerary that are included to provide flexibility in case of bad weather, or some other untoward event, and thereby increase the chance of the principle objective being achieved and for the trip to be successful. If these days are not needed in order to achieve the aims of the trip and the team/ course /group decides to return (for instance) from the mountains to a valley location earlier than planned, any additional costs incurred and associated with extra hotel nights, or services that would not otherwise have been provided nor were included in the published itinerary, must be met by each individual concerned at the time.
44. For all trips, you are advised to have insurance that covers you for all of the activities, specifically those deemed to be hazardous, included in the itinerary and for any activities you may undertake if travelling on an extension whether arranged by the Company or independently.
45. For all trips outside the United Kingdom, you must have adequate insurance cover for search, helicopter rescue and repatriation in the event of a medical emergency. Your travel insurance provider must agree beforehand to meet the costs of any search, rescue or recovery, for medical reasons, of you to the nearest appropriate medical facility even if prior authorization from the insurer may not be possible due to the remoteness of the recovery area or because medical expediency demands your recovery before such authorization could be received.
46. In case of a suspected or confirmed emergency involving you or the group of which you are a member, the Company reserves the right to arrange (or to make arrangements for its or your insurers to arrange) search, rescue and recovery as it deems appropriate and reasonable. You agree to indemnify the Company and keep the Company indemnified from all losses, apportioned appropriately to you, arising from any such search, any such helicopter usage and any resulting repatriation, for medical or non-medical reasons, including legal costs of making a recovery against you.
47. You will be provided with a list of all equipment required to bring on to the trip. You may hire/borrow some items of equipment from the Company. It is your responsibility to ensure that all equipment is fit for purpose prior to the Departure Date and for the duration of the trip. You are responsible for your equipment and belongings during the trip and bear the sole responsibility for wear and tear and incidental damage to your equipment. The Company recommend that you take out adequate insurance to cover your own equipment, and any items hired/borrowed from the Company as you will be liable for its replacement should it be damaged or lost.
48. In the event that you elect to hire any equipment from the Company, you may be required to pay a deposit to the Company in addition to the applicable hire charges. Deposits are not collected for equipment hired or made available to you when participating on a course, as the equipment will be issued and collected back from you in venue.
49. You will be responsible for any hired equipment throughout the trip and in the event that it is not returned to the Company on the last day of the trip in good condition (excluding normal wear and tear) the deposit, if paid, shall be forfeited and you agree to indemnify the Company and keep the Company indemnified from all losses arising from damage to the equipment including legal costs of making a recovery against you.
50. The Company may provide some equipment for a trip (such as ropes, avalanche-transceivers etc) and are responsible for the maintenance of such equipment. Where you deliberately or recklessly cause damage to any such equipment, whether during the trip or during any pre-trip training, you shall indemnify the Company and keep the Company indemnified from all losses arising from any such wilful or reckless damage so caused including legal costs of making a recovery against you.
51. If you have a problem during the trip, please inform the Guide immediately who will endeavour to put things right. If your complaint is not resolved locally, please follow this up by writing to the Managing Director at the Company's registered office giving your trip name, the departure date and all other relevant information and, where possible, evidence. Any such complaint must be received not later than 28 days of the date of your return from the trip. Please keep your letter concise and to the point. This will assist in identifying quickly your concerns and speed up the response to you.
52. If you fail to follow this procedure, the Company will have been deprived of the opportunity to investigate and rectify your complaint whilst you are in-country and this may affect your rights under this Contract as you will have failed to have mitigated (minimised) your losses and will be unable to recover compensation for this element subsequently.
53. Agents and representatives, other than a Director of the Company are not entitled to promise refunds for whatever reason, and the Company will not be bound by any such promises.
54. These booking conditions may only be waived or amended by a Director of the Company. Such waivers or amendments will only be made in special circumstances, and must be made in writing to be effective.
55. The terms and conditions of all agreements made with the Company shall be subject to, and governed by, English law and the courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute.
56. When making your booking it is implied and accepted that you have read and understood all these booking conditions and agree to abide by them.
57. The Company shall ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to protect your personal data (as defined in the Data Protection Act 1998). When you make a booking, you consent to all the information you provide being passed on to the Company's suppliers, agents, sub-contractors, employees or volunteers whether based inside or outside the European Economic Area for the purposes of our providing you with the trip.
58. By agreeing to these booking conditions, you consent to the Company's staff taking photographs and/or video footage of you during the Trip and that these images may be used by the Company for publicity and training purposes including, but not limited to, in brochures, websites and in the media.