The Sustainable Summits Initiative builds on the wildly successful July 2010 American Alpine Club-hosted conference "Exit Strategies: Managing Human Waste in the Wild." In attendance were land managers, climbers, planners and scientists representing the world's mountainous regions. Today, the Sustainable Summits Initiative has continued to shape and share environmentally sustainable solutions in mountain areas along with developing global partnerships.
Presented by an alliance of mountain recreation and conservation organizations, the conference is open to all interested individuals from around the world. The 2018 conference is in Chamonix, France from June 10-15.
American Alpine Club members Roger Robinson and Ellen Lapham are the Directors of the Sustainable Summits Conference:
Roger grew up in Corvallis, Oregon where he developed his outdoor and climbing skills through scouting. By the time he was in high school he was spending most weekends on the mountains in the Pacific Northwest. He attended Oregon State University—receiving a degree in Resource Recreation Management. While in college he practiced Clean Climbing techniques culminating in the participation of two clean-up expeditions of Denali and one on Mount Logan—all run through the University Systems Outdoor Programs. In 1976, he spent 115 days climbing in the Alaska Range of Denali National Park.
Roger moved to Alaska in 1979 where he purchased a remote piece of property on the south side of Denali National Park and Preserve (5 miles from a road) and built a log cabin. He was hired as a climbing ranger for the start of the 1980 climbing season at Denali. He began where he was just one of two mountaineering rangers and continues today. Roger has been a mountaineering ranger for the past 33 seasons, constantly incorporating his ideals for clean climbing and Leave No Trace principles into the Park's mountaineering education program.
In 1998, he began researching a methodical approach to remove garbage and human waste from the glaciers and mountains of the Park and in 2000 he tested a theory to remove all his patrols human waste. With the success of this experiment he developed a portable toilet which became the Clean Mountain Can (CMC). In 2001 and 2002, with seed money from the American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund for purchasing CMCs, Denali initiated the voluntary use of this pack out system. Roger has steered continued support and improvements of the CMC system and today Denali National Park and Preserve has embraced it as the standard and in regulation.
Roger organized and co-chaired the successful 2010 “Exit Strategies: Managing Human Waste in the Wild" conference hosted by the AAC in Golden, Colorado. Realizing there was a national and international lack in networking and continued gross pollution by users in remote places, he set forth with the objective to hold this conference. Over 110 participants from 15 countries attended the conference. Roger has continued the dialogue that started at the Exit Strategies conference by maintaining a Google group, “Managing Human Waste in the Wild".
He is a long time member of the American Alpine Club and the 1999 recipient of the AAC David Brower Conservation Award. He is the 14th recipient of the National Outdoor Leadership School's Stewardship Award.
Roger met his wife Pam on a Sierra Club Service project which involved the clean-up of an old mine within a remote western area of Denali National Park and Preserve in 1983. They live in Talkeetna, Alaska, in a log house they built themselves. Pam works seasonally for Denali National Park and Preserve at the Talkeetna Ranger Station.
Ellen Lapham is an Emeritus Director of the American Alpine Club and co-chairs the AAC's Conservation Committee, dedicated to preserving and protecting the places we love to climb. She is the co-leader of the AAC sponsored American Climber Science Program, currently carrying out a 3 year volunteer project in Peru's Cordillera Blanca. She has led land conservation and management programs in the Western United States' Sierra Nevada bio-region and worked on the critical 20 year plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin. Ellen chaired the Board of the Trust for Hidden Villa, a pioneering environmental education center in Northern California that serves over 50,000 visitors and students every year. Her professional focus is in high technology businesses as a turnaround CEO, founder of companies, investor in new ventures, and director of strategic marketing/public relations programs for major computer firms. Ellen prefers to be on rock and ice in remote and high places: she climbed on Mount Everest north side expeditions in 1986 and 1989 and later skied across Ellesmere Island. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design from Syracuse University. Right now, Ellen is building up a small farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California—close to excellent climbing, skiing, and mountain biking.