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Inside Royal Robbins

Inside Royal Robbins

Hempline — A Short History of Hemp

April 3, 2017

Hemp has a bad reputation. Even though it has been an undeniably useful crop for making clothing, paper, ropes, food, and other helpful items for more than 12,000 years, it’s currently illegal to grow in the U.S. (though legal to import). Even so, all those benefits are why Royal Robbins decided more than 10 years ago to start using hemp to make its Hempline products: combining a blend of organic hemp, organic cotton, and recycled polyester to create lightweight, breathable, and sustainably produced apparel.

“Hemp is actually pretty magical,” Royal Robbins’ Vice President of Product, Liz Braund, says. “It doesn’t require pesticides to grow, and it hardly needs any water. It also doesn’t leech nutrients from the soil, so you don’t have to rotate it with other crops.”

When made into a fabric, hemp is also antimicrobial, meaning it inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. “Hemp actually stops bacteria from growing on any of the fibers it’s blended with, too,” Braund says. “Including polyester, which otherwise has a real affinity for smelling.” Considering that hemp fabric is also more breathable than cotton and has a UV rating of 35 UPF, even when wet, it’s arguably one of the best natural materials for making clothing — right up there with wool and cotton.

Using hemp isn’t exactly a novel concept, of course. The Chinese were using hemp to make some of the first paper as early as the 5th Century BC, and Christopher Columbus’s sails and ship rigging were made from hemp, too. The Declaration of Independence was literally drafted on the stuff. Still, since the Marijuana Tax Act passed in 1937 — which required additional registration for hemp farmers and heavy taxes that, if not paid, could result inequally lofty fines or up to five years in prison — it quickly became increasingly difficult for farmers in this country to effectively grow and sell industrial hemp.

There a lot of theories out there why the Marijuana Tax Act passed, including an enduring suspicion that the oil industry lobbied hard to undercut hemp production in the U.S., since hemp was a potential biofuel competitor. No one knows for sure. Regardless of whatever actually caused the legislation to go through, however, when the Controlled Substances Act eventually passed in 1970, it became officially illegal to grow industrial hemp anywhere in the U.S. — simply because it looks a lot like its estranged cousin, the marijuana plant.Cannabis700

Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is currently classified by the United States Government as a Schedule I narcotic, along with heroin, LSD, and mescaline. As Braund points out, though: “You can’t get high off hemp. Not even a little.”

“What hemp is good for is making warm-weather clothes,” Braund says. “When blended with the right combination of organic cotton and recycled polyester, hemp is actually incredibly comfortable, cool, and dries out quickly — much faster than 100 percent cotton or even wool.” She should know, too. Braund recently took one of Royal Robbins’ Hempline hoodies on a trip to Mexico where it was above 90 degrees the entire time. “It seemed like there was never any shade, and I can tell you: I lived in that thing,” she says. “It was nice to be able to have something that could cover my head and arms for sun protection, without it being clammy or hot.”

Not bad for a shirt made out of an illegal plant.

Related Links:

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Essential Gear Inside Royal Robbins

Thermoregulation: Your New Core Clothing Technology

March 28, 2017

Thermoregulation is the new core clothing technology that you need today. We believe that it’s ridiculous to have to change your clothes throughout the day just because the temperature changes. Ok, so maybe it’s not ridiculous, but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to?

Clothing should enhance your life – it’s not just about looking better, but about feeling better. Thermoregulation technology helps keep you dry, cool and comfortable all day long.

In partnership with the Swiss chemistry experts at Heiq, we are proud to introduce the Wick-ed Cool™ collection – dual-cool technology to cool you when it’s hot and retain heat when the temperature drops.


Thermoregulation – The New Core Technology

Thermoregulation is a process that allows your body to maintain its core internal temperature. All thermoregulation mechanisms are designed to return your body to homeostasis. This is a state of equilibrium.

Your body naturally thermoregulates – that’s sweating. As your internal temperature rises, the body pushes moisture out onto the skin. The evaporation of the sweat from your skin provides that glorious cooling effect we all know and love.

In partnering with Heiq and their Smart Temp technology, we’ve enhanced some favorites – like the Expedition shirts and the Diablo – to enhance your body’s natural thermoregulation abilities.

Here’s how it works:


As the temperature rises, you begin to sweat. At the same time, the Wick-ed Cool™ technology allows water to spread smoothly across the fabric, instead of holding it in like a cotton t-shirt might.

At room temperature (20°C/68°F), you’ll have good, standard wicking and evaporation. But as it gets hotter, Wick-ed Cool™ kicks in and the hotter it gets, the harder it works – at 35°C/95°F you’ve got incredibly high performance wicking and dynamic cooling & evaporation.


As the moisture spreads around the fibers, it evaporates easily, providing a fantastic cooling to your skin.





  • Dries 35% faster than non-Smart Temp treated fabric
  • Less water condensation in fabric = no more after-exercise clamminess
  • Reduced “chill” time after exercising


  • Up to 2°C/2.6°F cooler skin temperature (depending on fabric weight) and improves natural evaporation for more cooling.


So what happens when it gets cold? Well, the evaporation, and therefore the cooling, stops. It’s that simple.

Inside Royal Robbins Our Heritage

Sweater Craft: a History of Sweaters as Gear

November 11, 2016

Sweater Craft is as old as the company itself. Royal and Liz originally began selling gear – pitons, ropes, hammers, nuts – out of her father’s garage in Modesto, CA. Soon thereafter, they added apparel to Mountain Paraphernalia roster of goods, becoming essentially the first outdoor apparel company (which they originally called Mountain Threads).

But before they could do that, there was a problem: climbers and adventurers didn’t want CLOTHING, they wanted GEAR.

Sweaters as Gear

Sweater Craft originals with Liz Robbins

Liz Robbins with original Sweater Craft

Despite being famous for first ascents in Yosemite Valley, CA, Royal and Liz spent a lot of time in Europe, especially England. On climbing trips in the Lake District of northwest England, Liz found a fun diversion when the rain started coming down.

She began working with local women to help them redesign their sweaters to fit climbers better.

The Herdwick and Swaledale sheep’s wool made for rugged, durable sweaters that, with slight improvements were ideal for cool weather climbing. The only problem was that climbers didn’t want to buy apparel, they wanted to buy “tools.”  

By marketing these heavy wool sweaters as tools, the Robbins’s found success in a new totally category for outdoor – Sweaters as Gear. This success led to Robbins’s to pivot and make the Royal Robbins company into a pure outdoor clothing company by the mid-70’s.

Sweater Craft

Many clothes are made. Sweaters are crafted. We call our collection of sweaters Sweater Craft in honor of the original sweaters that Liz imported. These hand-made beauties kept climbers warm and looked good.

Sweater Craft today

Sweater Craft at play in the Sierras


A Legacy of Environmental Responsibility

The promotion of clean climbing, marked by his first ascent of Nutcracker in 1967, was one of Royal’s proudest accomplishment. The legacy of environmental responsibility and of sustainability remains with the company today. When it comes to sweaters, we believe in the ethical treatment of our sheep. That’s why we only use non-mulesed wool.

Throughout our business, whether it’s using bluesign® approved fabrics, plant-based fibers, or Tencels and Modals from sustainably-managed forests, we are constantly looking to build on Royal’s leadership. It is a Core Value of our brand.


Inside Royal Robbins Outdoor Destinations Stories that Inspire

Yosemite Facelift Success!

October 9, 2016
Glacier Point Small Group
RR Big Group Pic

The Royal Robbins cleanup crew at Tunnel View

The Yosemite Facelift was a fantastic success. Two weeks ago, nearly 1,500 people flocked to the weeklong Facelift, put on by the Yosemite Climbing Association for the 13th straight year.

A Royal Robbins crew of 24 was thrilled to join our fellow Yosemite lovers to help the park recover from the high traffic summer season. Nearly 4 million people visit Yosemite every year, and unfortunately not everyone is so careful about packing out what they bring in to the park.

Old Trash

Sometimes a beer can isn’t a beer can, it’s an artifact.

Before heading out on the trail, everyone received a training session from the YCA. Interestingly, not all trash is really trash. Some things have been there so long (old beer cans, historic light bulbs) that they become archaeological artifacts. Such artifacts need to be left where they are by federal law.

However we were able to stay within the law and still help keep our park beautiful.

Here are some numbers that sum up the week:


  • 1,477 Unique Volunteers
  • 2,493 Volunteer days
  • 11,714 Volunteer hours


  • 5,733 Lbs. of litter
  • 6,464 Lbs. Special Projects
  • 12,197 Lbs. Total removed from Yosemite National Park

Entrance SignThe Facelift was not only a fantastic opportunity to get outside and spend time in the birthplace of the Royal Robbins legend, but it was also a great opportunity to give back. Without our national parks, our lives are not as rich or beautiful. It’s extremely important to support the outdoors and the environment, whether it’s through sustainability efforts like using bluesign® approved fabrics or recycling programs like Royal Rewear.

To learn more about Royal Robbins’ social responsibility program, click here.

Essential Gear Inside Royal Robbins

MerinoLux™ – Our Softest Merino Wool Blend Yet

September 26, 2016

Finally, a performance Merino wool blend that won’t break the bank, MerinoLux ™ — and it’s sustainably sourced to boot.

When someone says they’ve come up with a “new” wool garment, I can’t help but be curious. I mean, people have been making clothes out of wool for a long time (about 10,000 years), so what could be particularly new about the material at this point? There’s a good reason for its continued use, though: the stuff works. Name any significant expedition, ever, and wool was likely on the gear list. Ernest Shackleton wore wool on each of his fateful trips to the Antarctic – and made it back in one piece. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenszig Norgay wore wool on the first successful climb of Mount Everest, too. You probably even have a pair of wool socks in your drawer right now. If you don’t, I bet you’re wearing them.

To find out what is so new about Royal Robbins’ new Merino wool blend, MerinoLux™ (which happens to be about half the price of similar Merino wool fabrics) I got on the phone with Royal Robbin’s Vice President of Product, Liz Braund.

Liz Braund makes new friends in Myanmar

Liz Braund in Myanmar

Dave Costello: What’s MerinoLux™?

Liz Braund: MerinoLux™ is an innovative blend of two great materials that, when combined together, make one really nice fabric. It’s composed of 68% Sorona® Polyester, which is actually corn-based and much more eco-friendly than most polyesters, and 32% Merino wool. The corn that is used for making the polyester is a byproduct, so instead of just being thrown away, we’re making it into clothing. Sorona® is a great stretch fabric, it’s eco-conscious, and it’s really soft. It’s also wrinkle resistant. Merino wool has natural odor resistance, is warm, and even warm when wet, so it works great to wick moisture away from the skin, and helps keep you at a nice, even, constant temperature. All of the Merino wool we use is certified non-mulesed, which means that the wool is humanely gathered from the sheep. This combination of materials creates a twisted yarn, so that gives it its own natural spring. This allows us to get the nice comfort stretch without having to put spandex into the fabric.


DC: How is it different from other wool fabrics?

LB: Part of the challenge with making anything with wool is that some people perceive it as itchy, or too warm, but with the combination of the Merino and the Sorona® together, there’s no itch with MerinoLux™. It feels nice against the skin. The additional benefit is price. The higher blends of Merinos, or the 100% Merino’s can get into the $100 range for a T-shirt. The MerinoLux™ shirts start out at $50-$60. It’s really great for the consumer looking for the benefits of wool, but without breaking the bank.

DC: Why are you still using wool?

LB: Wool is really the original outdoor technical fiber – and that’s for a reason. Wool is a year-round fabric. A lot of people think of it as too warm for the summer, but it really does a great job of regulating your body temperature, because it actually wicks moisture away from your skin really well. You still get the thermal insulation properties of the garment even when it’s wet, too. With the addition of the Sorona® polyester, MerinoLux™ actually dries even faster than 100% wool, though. Wool also has natural anti-microbial properties. It’s anti-odor because it inhibits the growth of bacteria on the fabric. You can wear it much longer than a 100% synthetic garment because of this. It also eliminates the need to put a biocide or an antimicrobial agent on the fabric, because the wool in the garment naturally does it on its own.

DC: Where did the idea for MerinoLux™ come from and how was it developed?

LB: The idea came from the product team here. They very much understood and appreciated the properties and benefits of wool, and wanted to provide a wool garment that was accessible to more people. We had been doing a lot of work with Sorona® in other garments here at Royal Robbins, and had really noticed that, one, you get that natural stretch in the fabric; two, it’s eco-conscious; and three, it performed really well. So we thought, ‘what if we combined these two great fabrics into one?’ MerinoLux™ turned out to be the answer.

DC: How did the R&D go?

LB: Making any new fabric is all about trial and error. The team here went about working with the mill on finding the right balance of the blends. Then our first round of prototypes was tested by core users, and then, after several more prototypes and rounds of field-testing, the final formula was determined. The whole process took about 6 months.

DC: What’s your favorite MerinoLux™ product?

LB: I have a real favorite, and that’s the MerinoLux™ Dress, which will come out in Spring 2017. I travel a lot for work, and that top is like the perfect contingency. I can wear leggings under it, and it works as a great dinner piece over some great looking jeans or pants. It’s comfortable on the plane and IT DOESN’T SMELL. It looks great on, and has great performance characteristics.

Inside Royal Robbins

Yosemite Facelift: Preserving our Birthplace

September 20, 2016

The Yosemite Facelift is an annual, end of summer extravaganza where volunteers from around the world gather in Yosemite National Park to help clean up trash, repair trails, and help the Valley recover from the impacts of the summer’s crowds.

Royal and Liz atop Half Dome 1967 (Color)

Founders Royal and Liz Robbins atop Half Dome in 1967, after Liz became the first woman to climb the Northwest Face of Half Dome. This marked the 10th anniversary of Royal’s iconic first ascent.

This Friday, the Royal Robbins team (nearly 40 strong this year!) will be heading to Yosemite National Park to participate in the Facelift. As a company, we are committed to protecting and conserving the birthplace of our company, where our founders made first ascents on Half Dome and El Capitan.

Every year in late September, the Yosemite Climbing Association, currently led by Ken Yager, organizes the cleanup. They provide trash bags, litter sticks, and safety vests to volunteers. Every year, over 1,300 people donate nearly 10,000 hours to the effort. It’s the biggest volunteer cleanup of any park in the country, and we hope this 13th year will be the best!

Yosemite Conservancy Logo

The Yosemite Conservancy is a non-profit organization that supports ongoing conservation and park improvements efforts in Yosemite National Park. They are our primary non-profit partner.

From September 20 through September 25, the Yosemite Facelift will get the park ready for winter hibernation. Each night, there are barbecues and events hosted in the auditorium.

We are absolutely thrilled to be joining an incredible group of Yosemite enthusiasts this weekend. We believe that we have an obligation to conserve and improve the natural world so that we and our children can enjoy these spaces in a positive and sustainable manner.

To find out more about the Yosemite Facelift, click here.

To help us support Yosemite National Park, please visit the Yosemite Conservancy website.

Inside Royal Robbins

Reducing Impact with bluesign® Technologies

April 19, 2016

Royal Robbins’ commitment to environmental and social responsibility dates back to before the brand’s birth in the Yosemite Valley in 1968.

Starting in 1967, Royal himself became the first major American proponent of clean climbing – using removable nuts for protection instead of pitons and bolts hammered into the rock, permanently scarring the natural world. That spring, he and his wife, Liz, made the first significant clean climbing ascent in the U.S. on Nutcracker in Yosemite. This was the beginning of the clean climbing revolution in the United States, and one of the first sustainability stories in the outdoor adventure gear industry.

Environmental safekeeping is the core foundation of our brand’s heritage. Building on this heritage, we recently partnered with bluesign® Technologies in order to evaluate and reduce the environmental impacts of our textile production and manufacturing chains.

Why is this important? Simply put, we want to be a leader in sustainable apparel production. Currently, we have 30 styles that use bluesign® approved fabrics, and we’re not satisfied.

The bluesign® System unites the entire textile supply chain – from chemical suppliers, to textile manufacturers, to brands – to jointly reduce its impact on people and the environment by:

  • Uniting the textile supply chain
  • Eliminating substances posing risks to people and the environment
  • Responsible use of resources
  • Safety for people and the environment

bluesign® focuses on five key areas, the five bluesign® principles:

  1. Resource Productivity
  2. Consumer Safety
  3. Water Emission
  4. Air Emission
  5. Occupational Health & Safety

So what does being a bluesign® System Partner actually mean? In short, it means we are committed to reviewing our entire supply chain and reducing our negative environmental and social impacts. It doesn’t mean that we’ve accomplished anything, only that we are committed to doing so.

And that’s the beauty of bluesign. They are dedicated to helping us. They have standards, strategies and best practices to guide us throughout our own journey.

The End Goal: bluesign® Product

Royal Robbins bluesign system partnerThe end goal is to have every one of our products be a “bluesign® product.” This designation means that every single element of the product – fabric, zippers, buttons, dyes – meets bluesign® standards. Achieving “bluesign® product” designation is extremely difficult. No major apparel brand has achieved that designation for all of their products.

The bluesign® system defines concrete criteria for each production level based on extensive risk assessments. According to the five principles, these criteria ensure maximum sustainability along the entire textile supply chain:

  • Criteria for ingredients
  • Criteria for the manufacturing processes
  • Criteria for finished products

bluesign® Products are the most sustainable textile products on the market today, containing components that are resource-saving and sustainably manufactured.

Where are we now? bluesign® Approved Fabrics

Products with the label “bluesign® approved fabrics” are at least 90% composed of fabrics that have been certified under the strict safety and environmental requirements of the bluesign® criteria. Approved Fabric is our first step towards bluesign® Product.

Royal Robbins currently offers 30 styles, including the items listed below, that have bluesign® Approved Fabric.



Shop all Royal Robbins products made with bluesign® approved fabric.

Over 20 years ago, Royal and Liz formally instituted a Code of Conduct (something that had been in practice for the life of the company but not, up to that point, in writing) that we and our manufacturing partners follow to this day. The Code covers several areas, including ethical standards, anti-discrimination measures and fair labor practices. Perhaps most importantly is sustainability and environmental safekeeping:

“We believe the environment in which we live is ours to maintain and protect. We subscribe to manufacturing practices which ensure the safekeeping of our natural resources and ecological surroundings, and expect our business partners to also adhere to these principles.”

Becoming a bluesign® System Partner is simply the next step in a long journey. To learn more about bluesign® Technologies, visit

Inside Royal Robbins

Pushing Forward by Leaning Back: Building from a Heritage of Environmental and Social Responsibility

March 30, 2016

Royal Robbins announced 3 major commitments to sustainability and socially responsible business practices – becoming a bluesign® System Partner, our 20-year allegiance to a Code of Conduct with factory partners, and the OIWC Pledge for Gender Diversity. CEO Michael Millenacker joins the Go Everywhere blog to talk about where our commitment to social responsibility comes from and where we’re going.

Royal Robbins social responsibility

Royal Robbins, who made the first solo ascent of El Capitan in 1961, was a pioneer of clean climbing and sustainability,

We’ve been making a lot of changes around here lately to push our brand forward. But when you have a heritage like ours and incredible founders like Royal and Liz Robbins (who gave me my first job in the outdoor industry), sometimes pushing forward means looking back.

Royal Robbins’ commitment to environmental and social responsibility dates back to before the brand’s birth in the Yosemite Valley in 1968.

Royal Robbins was one of the first and most vocal proponents of clean climbing. In the spring of 1967, after returning from a climbing trip in England, where removable nuts were rapidly gaining popularity, he and his wife, Liz, made the first ascent of Nutcracker in Yosemite Valley, using only removable nuts for protection. It was the first climb of its kind in the United States.

Later that year, Robbins advocated using nuts rather than pounding pitons into the granite cracks in a seminal article in Summit Magazine. This was the beginning of the clean climbing revolution in the United States, and one of the first sustainability stories in the outdoor adventure gear industry.

Environmental safekeeping is the core foundation of our brand’s heritage. Our team is devoted to building on Royal and Liz’s legacy of leadership and progressive business practices.

bluesign® System Partner

We recently partnered with bluesign® Technologies in order to evaluate and reduce the environmental impacts of our textile production and manufacturing chains. bluesign® will help us work with our factory partners to improve our performance resource and energy productivity and consumer safety, and reduce the impacts of water emissions, air emissions and occupational health and safety.

Why is this important? Simply put, we want to be a leader in sustainable apparel production. The bluesign® system integrates the entire textile supply chain to jointly reduce its impact on people and the environment in a holistic manner. Currently, we have nearly 30 styles that use bluesign® approved fabrics, and we’re not satisfied. Stay tuned for a more detailed post about bluesign® next month.

Code of Conduct

Over 20 years ago, we developed a detailed Code of Conduct. We have a core set of values and principles, and we require that our manufacturing partners commit to those same principles. Our Code of Conduct covers several areas, including environmental safekeeping, ethical standards, anti-discrimination measures and fair labor practices. To ensure compliance, we conduct audits every year through third-party social compliance auditing firms. This summer, we’ll take you on an in-depth exploration of how we choose and work with our manufacturing partners.

Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition’s CEO Pledge

In January, I signed the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition’s CEO Pledge to support a more sustainable industry based on inclusiveness and gender diversity. Liz Braund, Royal Robbins’ VP of Product Design and Development and a former Board Member of the OIWC, brought the Pledge to me, and frankly, signing it was a no brainer.

We were founded by an incredible husband-wife team in Royal and Liz Robbins, who proved that diversity of thought and gender heightens success.

Today we have nearly a 50-50 split between men and women at every level of our business. Not only is the right thing to do, but it is also good business. Innovation can only come from bringing different groups of people with new ideas together.
As a company, we are dedicated to bringing you the best outdoor apparel, outdoor sportswear, and adventure travel gear that we can, whether you are hiking, trekking, or exploring a museum. Our customers get dressed once and are equipped for a full day of activities, both indoors and out.

But in the spirit of Royal and Liz, it is not just getting to the top, but how you get there that matters. We will continue to strive for greater environmental and social responsibility.

Inside Royal Robbins

Yosemite Conservancy and Royal Robbins – A 40-Year Partnership

January 22, 2016

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”

—Ansel Adams, photographer

In the words of the National Park Service, it’s “not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its towering granite walls and waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, and ancient giant sequoias.”

In 1952, a 15-year-old Royal Robbins first visited Yosemite with his Boy Scout troop. As they looked down Tunnel View, the troop leader said, “Boys, that’s El Capitan. No one will ever climb it. It’s obviously impossible.” 16 years later, Royal completed the first solo ascent of El Cap.

Yosemite Conservancy

Royal and Liz Robbins atop Half Dome – 1967

Yosemite became Royal’s home away from home and scene of his greatest triumphs. He completed the first ascent of the Northwest Face of Half Dome in 1957. Royal and his wife Liz met in 1960 in Yosemite’s Camp 4. In 1967, Liz became the first woman to climb Half Dome. Their time in the Valley highlighted the need for outdoor-specific apparel, spawning the birth of the company first called Mountain Paraphernalia, then Mountain Threads, and now Royal Robbins.

For 40 years, we have partnered with the Yosemite Conservancy (and its predecessors the Yosemite Association and the Yosemite Fund) to conserve and improve one of the great wonders of the world.

The Yosemite Conservancy is a non-profit organization that provides grantsYosemite Conservancy Logo to Yosemite National Park to fund projects ranging from trail and habitat restoration to wildlife-protection programs and scientific research to the Youth in Yosemite programs which help underserved high school students experience the wilderness for the first time (see the full list of projects here).



Volunteer! Donate!

In 2014, volunteers contributed over 17,000 hours to the Park, participating in projects ranging from 1–2 days to a week to even a month. These volunteers are critical to supplementing the work done by the National Park Service, and we need more help!

Whether it’s a hands-on conservation project or an Outdoor Adventures or arts project with youths, you can get involved in any number of incredibly rewarding activities in the most beautiful place on earth. Visit the YC’s volunteers page here.

looking up

Royal Robbins on the first ascent of the El Capitan’s North American Wall – 1964

All those efforts cost money though. In 2014, the Yosemite Conservancy raised over $10 million, but they still could not fund all the projects that are needed by the Park. A donation of $25 goes a long way to supporting the Park and fostering a lifelong relationship with Yosemite.

As a donor to Yosemite Conservancy, you help preserve the park for future generations.

Your gift today makes a lasting difference for Yosemite’s trails, habitat, wildlife and much more. And by participating in our outdoor programs, art workshops, theater performances and volunteer opportunities, you are giving back to the park you love.

Please join us in supporting the Yosemite Conservancy and Yosemite National Park.





Inside Royal Robbins

Royal Robbins® Taps Co-Founder Liz Robbins as Advisor

December 15, 2015
Liz Robbins

Friends, we are absolutely thrilled to announce that our co-founder and former head of design, Liz Robbins, is once again back with the company.

A climbing pioneer in her own right, Liz became the first woman to climb Half Dome in Yosemite Valley in 1967 (on the 10th anniversary of Royal’s first ascent). After seeing their torn and ratty jeans in a snapshot commemorating the moment (seen below), Royal and Liz looked at each other and said, “Maybe we had better get in the apparel business!”

Royal and Liz Robbins atop Half Dome in Yosemite Valley in 1967.

The company, founded in 1968, was first called Mountain Paraphernalia, selling gear such as pitons, ropes, and carabiners. But the Robbins’ quickly moved into apparel (under the name Mountain Threads), something then unheard of in the gear-focused outdoor industry, by importing wool sweaters from England.

In 1975, Liz designed the company’s first original piece of clothing – the rugged Billy Goat® Short, which quickly became an outdoor staple and is still sold today.

“It’s exciting to be back working with the company Royal and I founded. Our guide line – style with mountaineering heritage – is as relevant today as it was in the 1970’s when our focus was on Yosemite Valley climbers,” says Liz. “It is with Royal’s encouragement that I’m joining the new team led by Michael Millenacker.”


Liz Robbins working on Royal Robbins sweaters in 1971.

Our newly appointed CEO Michael Millenacker rejoined Royal Robbins in September. In the 1990’s, Michael worked closely with both Royal and Liz as the company’s Director of Sales and Marketing. After Royal and Liz Robbins sold the company in 2000, Michael went on to serve as President of Eagle Creek and Vice President of Sales at The North Face.

“I am thrilled to work with Liz again,” Michael said. “She and Royal are our heritage and the heart and soul of our culture. They were the reason that I joined the company the first time around – they are pioneers, they are authentic, and they are leaders.”


Liz will be serving as a trusted advisor to Michael and the rest of the executive team. Over the next year, we’re planning some special things here at Royal Robbins, and we can’t wait to share them with you.