In line with the goals of our parent organization, Bridges-PRTD, Summiters has three simple priorities:
Typically, all able-bodied Rolwaling men leave the valley during the spring and fall seasons in search of work. While they have benefited from this migration economically, it means that they must leave their homes, fields and families for the majority of the year. This situation should be reversible: after all, Rolwaling Valley has world-class tourist attractions and also an extremely high density of mountain tourism service providers.
Unlike potential local entrepreneurs, Bridges-PRTD is capable of organizing and promoting a climbing school internationally, and of importing necessary technical equipment. In the first stage, Summiters will enhance economic opportunities within the valley by bringing relatively high paying employment. More importantly, we will continue the work of previous Bridges programs in assisting the establishment of family-owned guest houses that will accommodate our team as well as other trekkers. In 2004 or 2005, we will turn over the school to local control.
An essential element of our program is that neither Bridges nor Summiters owns anything in Rolwaling. Our strategy is to motivate the enhancement of local goods, services, and facilities, and then get out of the way. Local control of commerce, and also of natural and cultural conservation, is fundamental. Summiters is not and will not be a stakeholder. We ourselves cannot undertake specific measures to protect the environment or the cultural legacy. However, we know from the experience of other tourism destinations that the kind of clients who will be interested in Rolwaling will also be interested in conservation; this point is not lost on the Sherpas, and, where tourism has made it possible, they have made conservation their own highest priority.
Summiters' third goal is to provide our students the best possible mountaineering training in a unique natural and cultural setting. For decades, Sherpas have been serving climbing expeditions on the highest and most difficult peaks in the world. Their climibing skills and personal attributes are legendary. Tenzing Norgay, who climbed Everest along with Edmund Hillary, founded a very successful climbing school in India, an excellent model that Summiters intends to follow.
Not only are our instructors all Everest summiters, they are all Rolwaling Sherpas, proud of their home and their traditions. Our participants of course be learning the necessary skills to become safe, competent and independent mountaineers. But they will also have an authentic cross-cultural experience, living with local families, working with local heroes, working on local projects that will have a huge impact on the lives of each member of the Rolwaling community.
Summiters is truly the experience of a lifetime.