The American Alpine Club proudly presents yearly awards to those with outstanding achievements in conservation, climbing and mountaineering, mountain literature, and dedication to the Club.

  • Honorary Members—Honorary Membership is the highest award the AAC has to offer. It is given to those individuals who have had a lasting and highly significant impact on the advancement of the climbing craft. The AAC is proud to recognize the following individuals: View Recipients
  • The Robert Hicks Bates Award—Robert Hicks Bates, a renowned explorer, alpinist, Peace Corps director and educator, accomplished numerous first ascents in Alaska and was a member of the American expeditions to K2 in 1938 and 1953. His literary contributions describing the K2 expeditions and his life of adventure in the mountains inspired young American climbers. He served the American Alpine Club in many capacities: member of the editorial board of the American Alpine Journal, Board member, President and Honorary President. Above all, he devoted his life to promoting the education and development of American youth through his years as a teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy, service with the Peace Corps, and other endeavors. To recognize his many contributions to American mountaineering and education of our nation's youth, the American Alpine Club established the "Robert Hicks Bates Award" for outstanding accomplishment by a young climber. It is to recognize a young climber who in the judgment of the selection committee has demonstrated exceptional skill and character in the climbing or mountaineering arts and has outstanding promise for future accomplishment. View Recipients
  • The David Brower Conservation Award—David R. Brower, an active alpinist and member of the famed 10th Mountain Division with over seventy first ascents from Shiprock to the Sierra Nevada, was a pioneer in the environmental movement in this country and abroad. He was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in conservation. Brower was the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club, founder of Friends of the Earth, and serves as Chairman of Earth Island Institute. His commitment to conservation contributed substantially to the establishment of sound global environmental practices. Brower was a lifetime member of the AAC and served as the organization's Vice President from 1956-58. The David R.Brower Award, created in 1991, is an annual award recognizing leadership and commitment to preserving mountain regions worldwide. The awardee, whose active personal role deserves public recognition, has made an important difference as a pathfinder, innovator and on the ground contributor who has motivated others to take action. View Recipients
  • The Angelo Heilprin Citation—It was through the dedicated efforts of Angelo Heilprin that The American Alpine Club was founded. In May 1901, he and twelve others met in Philadelphia to draft the objects of the proposed association. In March 1902, the AAC was formally organized; Angelo Heilprin was elected the first Vice President of the Club. The Angelo Heilprin Citation was established by the American Alpine Club in 1976. It is awarded annually to that person who has, in the opinion of the citation committee, shown exemplary service to the club. It is specifically understood that service to the club itself can be differentiated from outstanding mountaineering accomplishment or service through the club to the climbing community. The purpose of this citation is to recognize those who have worked to maintain and strengthen the organization and thus further its ability to serve its fundamental purposes. The selection committee is appointed annually by the president and is charged with preparing an appropriate presentation at the Annual Dinner. View Recipients
  • The David A. Sowles Memorial Award—David A. Sowles was killed at the age of 29 in a tragic accident during a lightening storm in the Alps on August 4, 1963. He was considered a mountaineer's mountaineer. He climbed with grace, style, and elegance matched only by the professional guides. He moved swiftly, always safely, and with the utmost consideration for the welfare of his companions. The David A. Sowles Memorial Award was established in 1981 by his climbing partner and good friend Andrew Kauffman. It is conferred from time to time on mountaineers who have distinguished themselves, with unselfish devotion at personal risk or sacrifice of a major objective, in going to the assistance of fellow climbers imperiled in the mountains. It is dedicated to the memory of David A. Sowles. View Recipients
  • The Robert and Miriam Underhill Award—Robert L. M. and Miriam O'Brien Underhill are recognized as two of the great pioneers in American mountaineering. In their memory, The American Alpine Club has established the Robert and Miriam Underhill Award for outstanding mountaineering achievement. It is to be given annually to a person who, in the opinion of the selection committee, has demonstrated the highest level of skill in the mountaineering arts and who, through the application of this skill, courage, and perseverance, has achieved outstanding success in the various fields of mountaineering endeavor. View Recipients
  • The H. Adams Carter Literary Award—The Literary Award was established to recognize excellence in alpine literature by North American writers. Recipients of the award have contributed extensively and over many years to mountain literature. Recipients are not selected through a submission process. View Recipients
  • The President's Gold Medal—The President's Gold Medal is given very rarely for extraordinary accomplishments in the climbing world. Recipients are not selected through a submission process. 

The American Alpine Club also awards almost $100,000 a year in grants and awards that support cutting edge climbing, up-and-coming athletes, climbing dreams, creative endeavors, research, conservation, and more. Learn about our Grants Programs.