According to the Indian Basic Minimum Standards (BMS) for Mountaineering, the adventure tour operators must define and update standard operation procedures (SOPs) for commercial climbing expeditions to the Indian Himalayas. The SOPs should also be vetted by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF).
What is a SOP?
In the simplest words, “An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business.” This simple definition is spelt out by Brampton Small Business Enterprise Center (Canada).
Here is the complete list of SOPs mentioned in Indian BMS for mountain climbing expeditions
10 essential SOPs
- The operator must provide adequate number of guides and porters and material and satisfy predefined service standards to meet the goals of the clients
- An experienced doctor may join the expedition.
- Advance arrangements for medical help and evacuation in emergency are a must.
- Advertisements must clearly mention real dangers and difficulties involved in the expeditions.
- Advertisements should not promise the impossible.
- The operator must record biographical information of guides of a commercial expedition.
- The clients must reveal correct medical history, activity-specific experience, etc. to the expedition organizer, so that the organizer can take informed decisions. The clients should provide valid documents to justify the claims.
- The adventure tour operator must spell out the following in advance:
- Which services, guide and / or porter would the operator provide?
- Which clothing and equipment would the operator provide?
- And what should clients arrange on their own?
- However, these standards are not applicable to the operators providing only logistics services.
- If a foreign adventure tour operator organizes the expedition, an IMF approved Indian operator must certify that foreign operator complies with all the above SOPs.
Tour operator-specific methodologies used for the following 13 operating tasks:
- Evaluating qualifications of the team members
- Assessing experience and medical condition of the members
- Obtaining permissions required for climbing
- Traveling to mountains
- Maintaining base camps: hygiene standards…
- Minimizing chances of high altitude sickness
- Precautionary measures for safety
- Weather update
- Evacuating and rescuing during emergencies
- Evacuating casualties
- Reporting accidents and incidents
- Collecting feedback