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 of networking, as well as a continued increase in pollution by users in remote places, Roger organized and co-chaired the 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.
Roger is a 40-year member of the American Alpine Club and the 1999 recipient of the distinguished AAC David Brower Conservation Award.
Here’s another, somewhat longer bio for Roger:
Roger Robinson 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. When he began he was just one of two mountaineering rangers.
Roger has been a mountaineering ranger for the past 33 seasons, constantly incorporating his ideals of 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. In 2000 he tested a theory to remove all his patrol’s 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, including in regulation.
Roger organized and co-chaired the 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 initiated the 2014 Sustainable Summits Conference. Over 110 participants from 15 countries attended the conference.
Roger has also continued a 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 in 1983 on a Sierra Club Service project that involved the clean-up of an old mine within a remote western area of Denali National Park and Preserve. 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.