With the lovely weather and the sudden bout of free time on our hands, it’s no surprise that places like Mountain Equipment Co-op have had their shelves cleared out in the past few weeks. Thankfully, the University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre will be up and running soon, so you get try out all those pandemic-approved outdoor activities without dropping a pretty penny. Paul Chiddle, head of the Outdoor Centre, gave us all the details on what’s happening.
The Gauntlet: Hi Paul, how’s it going? Have you been going out to the mountains much?
Paul Chiddle: A little bit, here and there. Bit of mountain biking, a little bit of climbing. I’ve mostly been busy at work, just trying to get everything for the rental shop open. We’re just waiting for the IT department to give us the greenlight now, which should happen in the next week.
G: How will that new rental system work?
PC: Now we’re restricted by the amounts of drop offs and pickups we can do during the day, but the online system should streamline the whole process. You’ll check a pickup time slot online — there won’t be any drop-in rentals. We’re going to have a limited amount of equipment starting out but we’ll slowly add more depending on how things are going. There should eventually be access to all the usual summer equipment, though probably not tents or sleeping bags. Our hours will be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
G: What’s the cleaning process for the equipment?
PC: Every piece of equipment we get will either be washed with soap and water, or it’ll be sprayed down by Oxivir, which is an accelerated hydrogen peroxide, so that’ll sanitize it.Then the rental equipment will be sat for another four days before it goes out again.
Our cleaning protocols have been written in conjunction with Paddle Canada and Alberta Whitewater Association, and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, and according to provincial guidelines and manufacturing recommendations for things like Personal Flotation Devices, wet suits, rafts, and climbing rope.
G: The Outdoor Centre still has programs running. How have those programs changed?
PC: We’ve got restricted staff at the moment, just the program coordinators. When the program has enough registrants to run, the coordinator will sit down with the instructor and provide them with updates. All clients will have to fill out an online expectations form. There’s no carpooling, but everything else will be pretty much the same.
Get out there and enjoy the mountains! A word of advice from Paul: Start small, think about the gear you need, and be aware of the environment and the people around you. Have fun!