HERO Spotlight: Savannah CumminsMar. 21, 2019
Where were you born and raised? How has your life today been influenced by where you grew up?
I grew up in Cincinatti, Ohio. Being raised there really inspired me to move away from there ASAP since it stopped feeling like a place I wanted to live while I was still in high school. Moving away from there was the best decision I could have made because it led me toward and down the path I’m on now!
Climbing, Mountaineering, Alpinism and photography are relatively new endeavours for you. How did you come to find these passions and pursue them at an elite level, surrounded by history's greatest adventure athletes?
I first found climbing because it was part of the curriculum in the ‘City Kids’ program that I worked for in Jackson, Wyoming. Lucky for me, I met some long time, prolific climbers in my early days on the rock who were willing to take me out on some of their adventures in the mountains to show me the ropes and the ways of the master. That’s basically how I was introduced to mountaineering and ice climbing. Then, combining some of my skills and experiences with my blooming photography passion led me to alpinism. Once I had a taste of any style of climbing, I’d be hooked, and the idea of taking photos in those big, beautiful and remote places that climbing takes us continues to fuel me. If you want to get up there to even have a chance at capturing a perfect mountain moment, you almost don’t have the choice to be anything less than ‘elite’. I feel very lucky to have been able to team up with so many amazing athletes along the way in my own journey as a climber who have helped me climb to new heights, and it’s been inspiring to see how willing they all have been to share the stoke and their knowledge with people like me who are excited to enter their world.
With your travels taking you all over the world, what has your experience been with respect to the degradation of the environment and the effects of climate change? Where have you witnessed some of the largest and most obvious impacts?
Every time I’m planning a trip I think about how big an impact me even getting to the destination has on our fragile planet. It’s a tough line to walk since my work life requires me to ride in airplanes and cars much more than your average person does. It breaks my heart to see and feel when our presence in the world is hurting it. I don’t have an answer to solve this problem, but we can all do better, and everyone should start by not using plastic straws or disposable plastic water bottles!
We have to ask; What was your experience in Antarctica like? For such a pristine, undeveloped place were there any signs of environmental distress? Scarcity of wildlife? Glacial or ice shelf melt? Vast fluctuations in temperature and weather? How did the combined experience of the team open your eyes to that frozen world?
Antarctica was an incredible experience! It was unreal to spend such a long stint in a place so remote and quiet and untouched. I personally couldn’t see any signs of environmental distress or scarcity of wildlife, or ice melt because I have nothing to compare it to. Conrad was the only member of our team who had previously been in that region and he never commented on any crazy difference in temperature or landscape compared to 15 years prior. Everyone in our team was blown away by the setting and the beauty of all the rock rising from the flat, icey planes. There was a giddy energy in us all, and it was neat to see how even the most bad ass, hardcore experienced alpinists, film makers, and climbers had a similar respect for the landscape we were there to explore.
Climbers have an inherent obligation to nature. To preserve it. To protect it. To teach about it. What are some ways that you use your talents to perpetuate the soul of a climber to others that you cross paths with?
I aim to shoot raw, real moments in amazing places in the vertical world. I don’t pretend to be anything that I’m not, or try to make any adventure appear to be any different than how it actually was. For me, shooting the ‘soul of a climber’ in pursuit of their own ambition and dreams and goals speaks for itself.
What is next for you in your young career? You have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented professionals in the world and in the near future, that will hopefully continue to expand. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
By 2024, I hope to be a more seasoned version of the current 26 year old version of me! For now, I’m going to continue to diversify my climbing experiences and do some new to me things like develop some of my own routes, plan and go on more expeditions, and feed and water my photography and videography skills so it continues to bloom!