Alaska Range Clean Climbing Expert
Roger Robinson first climbed Denali in 1975 as part of the Denali Rehabilitation and Education Project (DREP). The DREP initiated a new ethic in mountaineering and wilderness use. His climbs of Denali in ’75 and ’76 were clean-up efforts of the popular climbing routes. Accumulated litter left by climbers represented one of the worst examples of environmental degradation found in the national park system. In 1977, he assisted with raising money for a research project and education of climbers on Clean Climb practices for Denali and the Alaska Range. In 1980, he took employment as a climbing ranger for Denali National Park. This opened the door to incorporating his ideals for Clean Climbing and Leave No Trace principles into Denali’s evolving mountaineering 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 the feasibility of removing all human waste from his 5-person 21-day climb. With the success of this experiment, he worked with the pack-out toilet industry, NPS Health Service, American Alpine Club (AAC) and Denali staff developing a portable toilet which became the Clean Mountain Can (CMC). In 2001, 2002 and 2003, with seed money from the AAC and Access Fund, CMCs were purchased to make it possible to voluntarily pack-out climbers’ waste safely. Over these first years the climbing community embraced the system as a standard and in 2007, full pack-out in designated areas of the Alaska Range went into regulation.
Realizing there was a national and international lack in networking and continued increasing pollution by users in remote places, Roger organized and co-chaired the successful 2010 “Exit Strategies: Managing Human Waste in the Wild” conference hosted by the AAC in Golden, Colorado. 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”. Today, the Group collaborates with 120 like-minded experts and participants from all over the planet.
In 2014, Roger continued his Clean Climb campaign as co-chair of “Sustainable Summits: Solutions to Preserve and Protect the World’s Mountain Regions”. This successful three-day international conference focused on sustainable practices, planning and access, and reducing user impact. This conference can be watched at this AAC location: http://new.livestream.com/americanalpineclub
Roger is a 40 year member of the American Alpine Club and the 1999 recipient of the distinguished AAC David Brower Conservation Award.