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Our Environmental Awareness
As a tour operator encouraging people to travel to and in the world"s mountains, we have to take responsibility for these actions. We audit our environmental impact carefully, and have policies in place to ensure we are a low impact operator. We are the first to accept that this must involve a series of actions, rather than sweeping statements, but at every level of our operations we are working to reduce our environmental impact.
Leave No Trace partner
Icicle is an official partner of the Leave No Trace campaign. What attracted us to become a LNT partner, was that part of the focus was to lead by example, and also a key element is the education of clients on how to travel with minimum impact in the mountains. It wasn't just a case of signing up to a campaign, but a shift of our culture to involve clients and to involve ourselves in a project where actions speak so much louder than words.
Friends of the Lake District & Fix the Fells
We have teamed up with the Fix The Fells programme, who are a group of skilled rangers and volunteers who repair and maintain the mountain paths in the Lake District with funding from donations and partners. We give something back to the area and mountains we work in and call home. Backdated to the start of 2015, we will donate £5 for every single person who attends one of our courses in the Lake District, to Fix The Fells. This equates to 5% of turnover for most of our Lake District based courses.
For more details, click here.
Zero Carbon Footprint Campaign
Icicle is a founder member of this campaign, whose aim is to promote activities which have the highest of environmental standards. By following these standards on some specific courses, such as some trekking and snowshoe courses, you can opt to only use public rather than private transportation.
Carbon Offsetting Campaign
Icicle encourages all clients to consider offsetting their carbon emissions of travel to the Alps through a campaign such as Climate Care. Click on their logo on the left for more details. For example, the cost of offsetting a return flight from London Heathrow to Geneva is only £1.41.
Icicle top tip for our mountain environment...
"Don't carry pre-bottled water to drink when out in the mountains in the Alps. We suggest you use fresh water from the tap, and re-use plastic bottles for this"
Environmental policy in the Alps
Every client on our Alpine courses has an introduction briefing when they arrive, and a significant element of this focuses on the things that each client can do to help the environment. As with most things, simplicity is the best option, and most of our actions are extremely low tech, but the cumulative effect is big.
We recycle all paper and glass that we use, and ask all clients to sort their rubbish to assist this, by providing recycling containers in all client accommodation. Our accommodation is equipped with energy saving devices (e.g. bulbs and energy A rated appliances) wherever possible. During renovations of our accommodation, we recycle all waste in local recycling centres, where roughly 90% of all material is recycled.
Clients are asked to conserve electricity when they leave their accommodation, by turning off all lights, and to close windows and doors to conserve heat. It is not exactly rocket science, but it all helps. All of the clients accommodation have environmental posters advertising our policies and how they can help.
When in the mountains all clients are briefed on litter disposal, and all rubbish is carried off to be disposed of in the valley. Many huts are now installing bio-toilets to reduce the impact on the environment, and we ask all our groups to take all litter with them to reduce the amount of rubbish that the helicopters delivering supplies to the huts have to carry down, or the rubbish that some guardians choose to burn near the hut.
In terms of transport pollution, wherever possible we use larger group transport (local navette buses, minibuses etc) rather than several individual cars, and all our vehicles run on unleaded and are fitted with catalytic convertors. All these policies combined are a step in the right direction, but if you have any ideas about how we could improve our policies in the Alps, please let us know...
Icicle top tip for our mountain environment...
"We educate all our clients to carry out all rubbish they generate when in the mountains, and to pick up any litter that they find, to leave no trace at all"
Environmental policy on global expeditions
As with our policies in the Alps, we pay attention to every environmental detail on our expeditions. Wherever possible we use other UIAA Environmental Label or Leave No Trace holders to provide local logistics services such as base camp services and porter provisions.
Our expeditions are planned in great detail to ensure that we are sensitive to the local economy, and we ensure that all local staff that are hired (drivers, cooks, porters) are suitably trained, clothed, paid and looked after.
On expeditions we need to be a lot more aware of litter disposal and sanitation, and we keep the same standards as in the Alps. Often this necessitates getting extra porters / mules / yaks to carry out litter at the end of an expedition so that we ensure that we leave the mountain in the same state as we found it.
Expedition dossiers are sent to all clients, that clearly state the environmental policies we have for each of our trips, and the particular requirements of the trip they are booked on. These dossiers and the environmental requirements are meticulously researched, with advice from agents from the country to be visited.
Icicle top tip for our mountain environment...
"When selecting a course, you will see that we rate some for having a low environmental impact itinerary, such as snowshoeing, ski touring and trekking"
Environmental campaign focus - Mont Blanc Road Tunnel
The tunnel runs under Mont Blanc and links Chamonix in France & Courmayeur in Italy. This 12km toll road starts at 1300m above sea level, 300m above the valley floor. It was reopened after a fatal fire started by a burning lorry in 1999. The road tunnel is important to the local ecomony for tourist traffic, but is also used for lorries for road haulage. We protest strongly against the use of the tunnel by lorries due to the amount of pollution that they cause in the valley. There are more environmentally suitable alternatives, such as the Frejus tunnel, or rail freight. We support the regular peaceful protests against the lorries, as shown by these photos below.
It would be easy to argue that we are focusing on the micro scale here, rather than considering the macro or global scale. Put this in context, as we are a relatively small company doing our bit. Mont Blanc is a globally recognised peak, and it is in our back yard. Surely our efforts to preserve the environment here have global impact, and may encourage other regions to consider their mountain environment with greater respect and sensitivity. We live in an age where many people prefer to use their energies for cynicism and to put others efforts down. Perhaps these energies might be better focused on helping everyone.
Icicle top tip for our mountain environment...
"Always use IFMGA Mountain Guides and UIMLA Leaders to guide you in the Alps, as they are well trained to teach you about the local environment"
Climate change and the future
Ozone holes grow, sea levels rise, sections of the Antarctic ice shelves break off, greenhouse gases build up, and glaciers retreat. It is not a rosy future at the moment, and the key question is how much of the this is attributable to humans? Yes, there are natural cycles of warmer and cooler periods (you will have seen images of the Frost Fairs in London on the Thames in the 18thC, and may have read that global temperatures were far higher than present in Roman times), but most scientists only agree that humans are accelerating the rate of natural temperature increase, but they are not sure how much. With the main governments seemingly powerless (for political reasons) to endorse significant measures to decrease the human impact on climate change, the power and responsibility must now lie with companies who have the ability to implement change. This page has given you an idea of how we are trying to help, but is it working and what are the effects in the Alps? The press has recently given a lot of focus recently to how Alpine glaciers are retreating and some routes have become unsafe. For the most part these stories are factually correct, but the implication of most of them is that this is a sudden occurance and realisation. This could not be further from the truth. Routes come in and go out of condition over the decades, and for the number of routes that are taken out of condition by climate change, many new ones become available. The doomsday secnarios are global, not just restricted to the mountains. Our hope is that the responsible use and enjoyment of mountains can become an impetus and symbol for future actions for our whole planet. We invite you to participate in our efforts, and if you have any ideas of how we could assist the environment further, please e-mail them to us.
Latest news from Icicle
Environmental policies
As with all of our operations, our environmental policy is not static but in a state of constant flux to ensure that we set the best standards, educate others about them, then try to improve again.
We have an active Responsible Business (RB) programme in place for all operations, covering areas such as local community involvement, environmental improvements, employee well-being, and health and safety.
For us Responsible Business is local business. We actively employ mountain guides and leaders who live locally, and encourage clients to patronise locally operated restaurants, shops and bars.
With every environmental policy, it takes the two sides to work together to produce any tangible results. One thing that should be mentioned more by others is that keeping these environmental standards is not a pain or a drag, but a rewarding and educational process that both a company and its clients can share.
When you book on a trip, do not forget that most of the logistics and planning work is done in our UK office. Our environmental policies are just as important here, and we operate from a mainly paperless office.
All bookings are made online, so a paper copy never exists. We try to provide an enormous proportion of the information that anyone booking needs, on our website rather than in printed form. Paperless e-bookings and constantly developing the website rather than printed media are key to our policies.
Suggested reading and kit
To view the full course equipment list, with examples of kit, please click here.
Why choose our trips?
See our Alpine blog, by clicking on the Word-press logo to the right.
Icicle Blog
Itinerary flexibility to allow you to take full advantage of the weather windows on any day, to maximise your summit chances.
Our prices are fixed in £ Sterling, to protect you from euro fluctuations, so you can budget accurately.
There is a choice of routes to opt for, depending on the weather, conditions, and your experience.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.



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