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Sustainable Summits

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Sustainable Summits: The International Mountain Conference on Environmental Practices

The American Alpine Club is hosting a summit of land managers, climbers, planners and scientists representing the world’s mountainous regions. The conference focus is to shape and share environmentally sustainable solutions in mountain areas along with developing global partnerships. Sustainable Summits builds on the successful July 2010 AAC-hosted conference "Exit Strategies: Managing Human Waste in the Wild."

Presented by an alliance of mountain recreation and conservation organizations, the conference is open to all interested individuals from around the world. To foster connection and collaboration, the conference will have a capacity of 150 attendees

During the conference we will also celebrate 100 years of mountaineering on Denali and showcase some of the

Park's successful and innovative practices.

Scroll down for a program overview.

Conference Hosts:



"We must continue to persevere, to protect, and restore public lands, provide stewardship of the places that inspire us and guarantee responsible access to public lands and water."

- Peter Metcalf, CEO/President of Black Diamond Equipment


"The world's mountains deserve our ultimate respect and care.
Sustainable Summits is our way of ensuring tomorrow's climbers learn new
techniques, utilize the latest systems and we'll leave these mountain
places preserved and protected for future generations. "

— Garry Oye, Chief of Wilderness Stewardship, US National Park Service.



Attendee: $200

Student: $100

Vendor: $400

Lodging will be available at the Colorado School of Mines. The rooms are dormitory style and can be shared with another guest.

The fee for lodging is $60 per person, per night. Buffet breakfast is included.

*Refunds will be administered with a service charge from RegOnline up to 30 days before the conference.

Register Today



JULY 20-24, 2014 • Sustainable Summits Conference • Golden Colorado

Program current April 8, 2014. Speaker dates & content are subject to change without notice.


Sunday July 20: 7pm Opening program at AMC. A Celebration of Denali, 101 years (public invited)

Monday July 21: 8am - 5pm Sustainable Practices: This Works 

5pm - 6:30 pm. AAC hosted reception, American Mountaineering Museum

Tuesday July 22: 8am-5pm  Planning and Access

7pm  The Everest Knot

Wednesday July 23: 8am-5pm Reducing User Impact

Thursday July 24: 8am-5pm Field Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park (optional)


• Sustainable Practices and Solutions: THIS WORKS. Education and field-­?tested practice for land managers and users. (July 21, Monday)

In a fast changing environment, including climate change impacts, we need research and actions for the long term. We will build on what works...and be willing to seek out and adopt new ideas for capacity, ecosystem management, and backcountry access.

• Planning and Access: Can you get it right from the get-­?go? (July 22, Tuesday)

Getting it right from the start often involves many stakeholders including property owners, guides and local indigenous peoples. We will tackle this complex issue since planning is a necessary step for long term backcountry management and is a precursor to implementation. We will review case studies of successful planning – and cover some of the pitfalls.

• Reducing User Impact: The Challenge of Managing all types of Waste. (July 23, Wednesday)

We need new research and effective, long lasting solutions to this high impact, universal problem. The conference will showcase the very best practice and research from around the world.


• The Everest Knot – Social issues have emerged at the forefront of mountain areas. What needs to be changed and does the Everest region provide a working example?

• Denali Planning – A pioneering national park is managed to plan. How did this come about, what were the planning process challenges, and how has the plan worked over time?


Peter Metcalf (Monday AM) From fringe to mainstream: Mountaineering’s transformation in North America. Peter has made hard technical first ascents around the world and was one of the pioneer alpinists of Alaska in the 1970s. The founding CEO/President of Black Diamond Equipment, Peter is a strong advocate for public lands protection and the role of the outdoor industry.

Dawa Steven Sherpa (Everest Knot panel Tues evening and Wed presentation) New and novel ideas to reduce impacts on Nepal’s peaks and trails. A noted climber, he chairs the Nepal Mountaineering Association’s Environment Protection Committee. Dawa Steven leads numerous Eco Everest Expeditions to draw attention to the impact of climate change on the Himalayas and started the successful 'Cash for Trash' cleanup campaign on Everest. Dawa Stephen is a Nepalese Sherpa entrepreneur who has scaled Mt. Everest twice. He graduated from Heriot-Watt University Scotland with an Honours Degree in Business Administration. Dawa Steven's achievements include the Everest Expedition to draw attention to the impact of climate change on the Himalayas.

Conrad Anker (Sunday opening program, Everest Knot panel Tuesday evening) Conrad Anker is American rock climber, mountaineer, author and environmental activist who has made demanding and sustained free ascents from Yosemite to Pakistan. He has international renown for his leadership, championing the protection of Earth’s environment. Conrad is founder of the Khumbu Climbing School.



A Project of the Sustainable Summits Conference, July 2014

The American Mountaineering Center, Golden Colorado

Big peaks and their lower flanks inspire us to set lofty goals. Many people build their livelihoods there, and many more come for challenge and adventure. Yet across our globe the changing high elevation climate and increasing human impact now threaten this living and business model.

Mount Everest, an icon -and exemplar- of these stresses, can also be our inspiration for global actions to preserve and protect the places we love to climb.

The Everest Knot brings together international thought leaders and activists. They will lay out their ideas and actions taken that can result in effective adaptation to change and answer the question: What is to be accomplished on high?

If we succeed on Mount Everest, we can take that learning to summits worldwide. 


Conference Sponsors:


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Mt. Foraker

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Mt. Hunter

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Conference Supporters:





Photo courtesy Menno Boermans.