Founder: Angelo Heilprin - 1902
1902-1907 - Charles Ernest Fay
1908-1910 - John Muir
1911-1913 - The Honorable Harrington Putnam
1914-1916 - Henry Grier Bryant
1917-1919 - Charles Ernest Fay
1920-1922 - Lewis Livingston Delafield
1923-1925 - The Reverend Harry Pierce Nichols
1926-1928 - Howard Palmer
1929-1931 - Dr. William Sargent Ladd
1932-1934 - Henry Baldwin deVilliers-Schwab
1935-1937 - Joel Ellis Fisher
1938-1940 - James Grafton Rogers
1941-1943 - James Monroe Thorington
1944-1946 - John Crowther Case
1947-1949 - Walter Abbot Wood, Jr.
1950- 1952 - Henry Snow Hall, Jr.
1953-1955 - Bradley Baldwin Gilman
1956-1958 - John Cameron Oberlin
1959-1961 - Robert Hicks Bates
1962-1964 - Carlton Perry Fuller
1965-1967 - Lawrence George Coveney
1968-1970 - Nicholas B. Clinch
1971-1973 - John Lathrop Jerome Hart
1974-1976 - William Lowell Putnam
1977-1979 - James F. Henriot
1980-1982 - T.C. Price Zimmermann
1983-1985 – Robert (Bob) Craig
1986-1988 - James P. McCarthy
1989-1991 - Glenn E. Porzak
1992-1994 - John E. (Jed) Williamson
1998-1999 - Alison Osius
2000-2003 – C. James Frush
2003-2006 – Mark Richey
2006-2009 – James U. Donini
2009-2012 - Steve Swenson
2012-2013 - Charlie Sassara
XVII- CHANGING FACES
The Leadership of The American Alpine Club
An excerpt from Honorary President William Putnam's Century of American Alpinism.
This final chapter offers a brief biographical note on those who have served as president of The American Alpine Club, thus providing the primary guiding tone to the organization during their terms of office. One can note, by comparing these names with those in Appendix A, that unlike The Alpine Club [London], the AAC does not necessarily consider election to its presidency to be an honor equivalent to that of its Honorary Membership. Indeed, once the election has occurred this author has long felt that the office carries more onus than honor.
Angelo Heilprin (1853-1907) was brought to the United States from the wine-making center of Satoralja-Ujhely in northeastern Hungary, at the age of three. Thereafter, he lived most of his life in Philadelphia, where he became curator of the Academy ofNatural Sciences. As well as being a fine painter, he had to his credit several learned papers on arctic zoology and was leader of the Peary ReliefExpedition of 1892. After 1890, he held a chair of geography at Yale University. He also became an authority on arctic glaciers (one is named for him) and invertebrate paleontology. Professor Heilprin sent out the call for the meeting of 9 May, 1901, at the Geographical Society of Philadelphia to discuss the establishment of an "alpine society." After the formation of The American Alpine Club, he was elected vice-president along with the British-born geodesist, George Davidson. Subsequent to the violent eruption of Mount Pelee on 8 May,1902, Heilprin was the only scientific investigator who dared to enter the floor of the volcano and determine the nature of the huge monolith that was slowly extruded from the throat of the resultant caldera. While there, he made four ascents of the still-active volcano. Following his premature death on 17 July, 1907, of a fever contracted while in furthering his scientific studies in Venezuela, the minutes of The American Alpine Club noted him as the organization's founder.
Charles Ernest Fay (1846-1931) was affiliated, throughout his long and productive life, with Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where he was a Professor of Modern Languages and dean of its Graduate School.
His association with organized alpinism began with the founding meeting of the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1876, over which he presided. He later served four separate terms as that club's president and after 1897 as chairman ofits "Alpine Section." He was editor of APPALACHIA for 40 years beginning in l879, and edited The American Alpine Club's first three publications—ALPINA AMERICANA, of which he wrote the second monograph in 1911.
Dr. Fay was the American agent for the Duke of the Abruzzi's expedition that made the first ascent ofMount Saint Elias in 1897. He was elected to honourary membership in The Alpine Club and was the original honourary member ofthe Alpine Club of Canada. An authority on the mountains of western Canada, where his annual visits took on an element of a state event, his name is on the first of the Ten Peaks above Moraine Lake, and on the earliest mountain hut built by the Alpine Club of Canada.
Professor Fay was unique in being not only the first president of The American Alpine Club, but also our second and our sixth—a distinction which makes him exceptional among our elected leaders.
John Muir (1838-1914) was born in Dunbar, Scotland, and at age 10 moved to the United States, where he received his college degree in geology from the University of Wisconsin. Setting out on foot for the West, Muir was soon recognized universally as THE voice of the conservation movement in the United States—and after his death, has been acclaimed worldwide as the patron and founder of wise and sustainable use of natural resources.
Muir is primarily associated with the Sierra Nevada—though he visited many other mountain areas—and with the Sierra Club, which carries forward his conservationist legacy to this day. As the first president of The American Alpine Club represented the eastern section of the country, Muir represented the west. As the Club's first president represented the literary, social and climbing aspects of mountaineering, Muir represented the companion motivation of all alpinists to preserve, protect and perpetuate the wild and beautiful heritage that we enjoy as only temporary visitors and custodians. Muir was honored for his unceasing labors during his lifetime with degrees from Harvard and Yale, as well as from those universities closer to him—Wisconsin and California. He has been honored in death by having his name placed on more natural features of the American landscape than any other human being.
The Honorable Harrington Putnam (1851-1937), a justice ofthe New York Supreme Court from 1909 to 1921, was born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Though he climbed Mount Fuji, the Breithorn, Mt. Shasta and Mt. Whitney, Putnam was primarily a walker. At age 60, when he was due to open court in Riverhead on a Monday morning, he walked most of the length of Long Island over the weekend, having held court in Brooklyn until late on Friday.
During Judge Putnam's tenure, he was called on to handle the delicate matter of expelling Dr. Frederick Cook from AAC membership. On a more positive note, he also presided at a celebratory dinner held in New York in 1907 to honor the Duke of the Abruzzi, who was touring the eastern United States as commodore of a visiting Italian naval force at the time of the Jamestown tercentennial.
The question of a permanent legal home (other than the residence of the secretary) for The American Alpine Club arose during Judge Putnam's presidency and at the annual meeting on 30 December, 1911, in Philadelphia, the first formal steps were taken toward being able to accept the generous offer of the expatriate alpinist, Henry Fairbanks Montagnier, to give his immense personal library to the Club.
Henry Grier Bryant (1859-1932), a graduate of Princeton College and resident of Philadelphia, was the Club's secretary until 1911, and then served as vice-president under Judge Putnam. For many years between 1897 and 1931, he was also president of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia.
With the AAC's first Honorary Member, Admiral George Wallace Melville, he conducted experiments with floating drift casks, to determine the patterns and speeds of currents in the Arctic Ocean. During his term of office, Mr. Bryant arranged the formal incorporation of The American Alpine Club, under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so that it could hold legal title to property. In addition to performing the necessary legal work for the acceptance of the Montagnier collection, he also gave his own extensive collection of mountain literature to the Club.
Mr. Bryant was a frequent visitor to the "Canadian Alps" and his name can be found on Bryant Creek in the Rockies. In 1903, his name was also placed—by Dr. Cook—on a small group of peaks between Mt. Dall and Mt. Russell near Denali. Mr. Bryant wrote extensively on arctic topics and on his mountain climbing activities in such diverse and out-of-the-way places as Labrador and Java.
Lewis Livingston Delafield (1863-1944) was always a New Yorker, though educated at private scholastic institutions in Switzerland, St. Paul's School in New Hampshire, Harvard College and returning home finally to Columbia Law School.
While an avid outdoorsman from early youth, his record of actual alpinism was relatively minor—he did not take up this activity until the age of 44, and became a member of the Club four years later. As with many early members of The American Alpine Club, he maintained an active interest in polar matters and served as counsel for the Peary Arctic Club.
During Mr. Delafield's presidency, however, arrangements were begun for the first climbing expedition to receive the Club's formal sponsorship—that to Canada's Mount Logan. He led that trip's fund raising effort, which finally totaled almost $12,000 and included donations from all over the world.
During his presidency, the first major British expeditions were also undertaken seeking to make the ascent of Mount Everest via an approach from India around the mountain through Tibet. Americans first heard of the Rongbuk monastery and were shown the first moving pictures of actual climbing in very high altitudes at the AAC's annual meeting early in 1922.
The Reverend Harry Pierce Nichols (1850-1940) was an original member of The American Alpine Club and served as a director: 1902-10; 1920-22 and 1926-28. During the years 1923-25 he was the sixth person elected as the Club's president. A native of Salem, Massachusetts, he was ordained a priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1877 and served a variety of parishes, culminating with Holy Trinity Church of New York City from 1899 until his retirement to North Conway, New Hampshire, in 1922.
During his term as president he urged the election of Achille Ratti, Pope Pius XI, as an Honorary Member but, because His Holiness felt constrained to decline all such honors, the board elected George Leigh Mallory instead, as the latter was about to return for a further attempt on Mount Everest. During his term as president, the Club's total membership rose from 126 to 144, after noting the deaths of Honorary Members George Leigh Mallory, Dr. Jules Jacot-Guillarmod, Mrs. Fanny Bullock Workman and Rev. W. A. B. Coolidge; and regular members Rev. Hudson Stuck, Herbert Lawrence Bridgman, Alden Sampson and Allen Herbert Bent.
A very popular mountaineer of great persistence and skill, Dr. Nichols celebrated his 80th birthday by making his 250th pedestrian ascent of Mount Washington. In 1893 he set out from on the Glacier House for an ascent of Mount Fox. Upon his return he preached to the assembled guests on "The Glory of Aspiration."
Howard Palmer (1883-1944) was born, lived, and died in southeastern Connecticut. For more then 30 years after 1911, he served as a councillor or officer of The American Alpine Club. Though a Harvard-trained lawyer, most of his business career was in managing the mattress manufacturing firm started by his father and uncle.
While his first major climbs were of the higher volcanic peaks in the western United States in 1907, thereafter Palmer became inextricably associated with the exploration of the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, where his name is on the land and a river and where he made a number of major first ascents. A frequent patron of the Glacier House, he wrote numerous articles for many publications, but his scholarly 1914 volume MOUNTAINEERING AND EXPLORATION IN THE SELKIRKS, remains one of the classic pieces of alpine literature. Its thoroughness and abundant appendices have made it a model and a challenge for subsequent authors. Palmer's explorations in the mountains of western Canada were frequently in the company of two Club members and professors of botany at the University of Minnesota—Edward Willett Dorland Holway and Frederick King Butters.
With the collaboration of Dr. Thorington, in 1921 Palmer compiled The American Alpine Club's first guidebook, that to the Rocky Mountains of Canada, which has gone through numerous revisions and later editions.
Dr. WilJiam Sargent Ladd (1887-1949) remains notable among The American Alpine Club's presidents for two very important actions:
The participation in the founding of the Union International des Associations d 'Alpinism (UIAA), and the gift of our first permanent domicile—"the old firehouse" at 113 East 90th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues in Manhattan.
Dr. Ladd was born in Portland, Oregon, but lived most of his adult life in New York where he became a very distinguished physician. His landmark gift in 1947 of what had been tentatively used as his offices not only brought the Club a permanent home of its own but also into the real estate business. Though the New York City Building Department ordered the brass pole removed before we could occupy it, the basic nature of the ancient private fire station was unchanged and the gift prompted the first major fund raising effort on behalf of the 45-year-old club. The Club's Board determined that owning such premises also required the establishment of an endowment that would fund its upkeep.
Dr. Ladd was more widely honored for his achievements in the field of medicine than for his accomplishments as a mountaineer, serving as dean of the Cornell Medical School. But he was also honored in mountaineering by election to Honorary Membership in the Club Alpin Francais.
Henry Baldwin deVilliers-Schwab (1887-1935) climbed extensively in the Alps beginning with minor ascents in the Tyrol in 1901. From the age of 14, he spent 10 consecutive seasons in the Ober1and, around Zermatt, and making climbs from Chamonix; making 20 ascents in the year 1920, alone.
Born in New York of German ancestry, he attended St. Mark's School and Harvard College ('09) before joining the importing firm of Oelrichs & Company, in which he rose to a partnership by 1917 and headed their wool division. During the course of his career, which was cut short by his untimely death from the nephritis which afflicted him for several years, he visited many parts of the world on business and always took time to visit the local mountains in such places as New Zealand, Chile, Peru, South Africa and Australia. In addition to several other first ascents in the Canadian Rockies, Mr. Schwab was a strong and valued member of the party which made the first ascent of Mount Clemenceau in 1923. After his retirement from business in 1926, he served the Club as secretary until 1929 and as a councillor thereafter until his election to the presidency.
He was a respected member of The Alpine Club and acquired his complicated full name by virtue of his marriage in 1912 to Kathrina H. de Villiers, a native of Cape Town. At the end of his presidency the Club membership stood at 231 of which 11 were Honorary.
Joel Ellis Fisher (1891-1966), was the first, and unofficial, manager of The American Alpine Club's portfolio. As noted above, back in those less rigid days, while serving as treasurer from 1929 to 1934, he might take an occasional risky flyer on behalf of the Club. If, by year end, the stock had risen as hoped, the Club was the winner. If it had not, he would sell it and then make the organization whole out of his own pocket.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale in 1911, Ellis (as he was known to his intimates) started climbing at age 15, in the Alps, and returned to these mountains of his youth every year until 1965, when, at the age of 75, he climbed the Riffelhom. In all, he made more than 150 major ascents.
As president of the Denver Terminal Railroad and treasurer of Melville Shoe Company, he was a prominent figure of the business world. But he also bankrolled personally a great deal of scientific research, particularly into glaciers and glaciology. Ellis had the distinction of managing the first and to this date only proxy fight in the Club's history. As the senior advisor to a group of renegades—four of whom (80 percent) later became Honorary Members—he sought to insert a By-law amendment that would mandate that AAC annual meetings be rotated about the entire country, not merely among major cities of the East. The proposal failed at the time, but it's spirit came to dominate the organization.
James Grafton Rogers (1883-1971) was the founder of the Colorado Mountain Club and its first president. His knowledge of Rocky Mountain history, in particular that in the vicinity of his retirement home high in the upper valley of Clear Creek, made him a unique source of data on Colorado place names. With this knowledge it was inevitable that he should also become president of the Geographic Board of Colorado.
A distinguished member of the Colorado bar—as well as dean of the Yale Law School—Mr. Rogers was among the most influential of those whose labors and influence brought into being the 1oth Mountain Division. It was his personal relationship with Henry Lewis Stimson, the Secretary of War, and his equally long friendship with Chief of Staff General George Catlett Marshall, that broke the bureaucratic logjam and led to the establishment of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment in mid-November of 1941. The location of the Club in the State of Colorado, the selection of Camp Hale in the valley of Pando, and the cordial relationship that the Club now enjoys with the alumni of this distinguished military unit are natural fruits of James Rogers' legacy to American mountaineering.
His greater legacy to the nation came from service on various reconstruction boards in Europe after World War I and his work on planning for the Office of Strategic Services in the sequel conflict.
James Monroe Thorington (1894-1989) was America's ultimate scholar of alpinism. He also served the Club variously as a councillor, vice-president, secretary, editor of the American Alpine Journal and finally as its president.
An opthalmologist by profession, as had been his father, Roy (as he was known to his friends) came to be THE authority on the "Canadian Alps," succeeding to the mantle of Professor Fay. In 1921, with the cooperation of Howard Palmer, he brought out the first of the long series of guidebooks that The American Alpine Club undertook as "the publisher of last resort" for mountaineers. Among the photographs herein Roy is pictured on one of his many guide accompanied trips to the less visited mountains of the Alps.
A distinguished and honorary member of numerous alpine societies, Roy produced an enormous list of valued historical publications on alpinists and alpinism. His contributions have served as references for many of the displays at trus centennial gathering of the Club and cause he served so long and loyally. Roy was crusty, a condition which one of his successors as president blamed on a shy streak in his character, but he was thorough in his research and infinitely knowledgeable on the history of alpinism, both in the Alps and in America. That he was asked to write the lead article for the centennial issue of the ALPINE JOURNAL was an international tribute to Dr. Thorington's scholarship.
John Crowther Case (1892-1983) lived the typically long life ofthe vigorous alpinist. A native of Rochester, New York, he was educated largely in Europe and lived much of his life abroad. After service as a machine gunnery officer in World War I, he worked for the Socony Vacuum Oil Company in various capacities, culminating as vice-president of production. In this capacity he was responsible for the formation of ARAMCO, the Arabian American Oil consortium.
John's service to American alpinism was very much connected with the establishment of the 10th Mountain Division, in which he played a leading part. But, of all mountain areas, he was most concerned with his native Adirondacks, where he maintained a summer home in Keene Valley and where he died.
His other service to the Club came because of his gentle and perpetually youthful outlook, which enabled him to serve as a trusted and welcome counselor to an amazingly large number of his successors as President of The American Alpine Club.
At the conclusion of his presidency, Club membership stood at 318 and the evening dinner guest of honor at the annual meeting was William Williams, who had attempted the ascent of Mount Saint Elias in 1888 and now heard about the second ascent (and first American ascent) of that striking American mountain.
Walter Abbot Wood, Jr. (1907-1993), like so many of his predecessors, was largely educated in Europe, mostly Switzerland, where he became qualified as a mountain guide. His major impact on alpinism, however, was certainly in North America where he was among the founders of the Arctic Institute of North America.
His interest in high-altitude research led him to assist with establishing the station on Mount Logan, which he visited with great regularity, even to his 81st year. Walter climbed, and practiced his skills as a surveyor, in mountain ranges all over the world, from Greenland to Colombia to Kashmir and finally to the Yukon, where he made first ascents of Mounts Steele, Wood, Walsh, Hubbard and Alverstone.
With the equally distinguished Kenneth Atwood Henderson, Walter was instrumental in the process of testing and certifying mountain guides in the United States in the late 1930s. A number of the Club's later noteworthy members held cards testifying to their competence and signed by this Club committee.
A man of great talent, Walter also served as president of the American Geographical Society and the Explorer's Club. At the final dinner at which he presided, he described his ascent of Mount Vancouver.
Henry Snow Hall, Jr (1895-1987) became the world's most ubiquitous patron of alpinism. During the course of hi lengthy association with The American Alpine Club, the living room of his Cambridge home served as a planning office for countless expeditions, major and minor, for many of which he also provided a silent but critical subsidy.
Henry's many years of service to the AAC began with his election to the Council in 1923, extended into his 15-year tenure as secretary, from 1932 to 1946, and culminated in his election as president. However, retirement from the Club's highest office did not diminish his support, financial and spiritual, which continued until his death and even thereafter. In recognition of his unmatched contributions to this organization, he was elected to Honorary Membership in 1946 and as the Club's first Honorary President in 1974, and shortly before his death he received our Angelo Heilprin Citation.
Henry's actual alpinism was not as wide-spread as that of some others, nor marked with as many notable ascents, but he saw to it that The American Alpine Club stayed afloat during a number of dark periods and was a friend indeed to needy alpinists from all over the world. Subsequent AAC presidents became accustomed to receiving their valued and almost weekly hand-written letter of advice from "our father" in Cambridge.
Bradley Baldwin Gilman (1904-1987) was a descendant of numerous distinguished Americans, including a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Though a graduate of Yale College, he attended Harvard Law School and practiced for many years in his native Worcester, Massachusetts. Brad was the only functionary of The American Alpine Club to hold every one of its varied offices, concluding with a six-year stint as treasurer after 1961. During his years as secretary in the 1950s, however, he uncovered (and ended) the "plot" to elect a four-footed canine to membership, which had passed the Club's councillors.
Though he climbed extensively elsewhere, Attorney Gilman's name remains known to subsequent generations of New England rock climbers for his pioneering ascent of a route toward the westerly edge of the great cliff of New Hampshire's Cannon Mountain—an ascent which he made in 1928 in company with his cousin, Princeton's topologist/mathematician Hassler Whitney. To this day, though it has undergone several gravity-related modifications, and is off-limits during the eagle-nesting season, the Whitney-Gilman route is a North American classic.
John Cameron Oberlin (b. 1914) made his first climb (and first self arrest) at age 16, on Ben Nevis. In later years he made numerous ascents in the Tetons, often with Fred Ayres. In 1942 he served briefly as a ice climbing instructor with the 87th Mountain Infantry, before being sent to Officer Candidate School and thence to other duties.
After World War II, he made numerous ascents over several seasons in the Canadian Rockies, the Alps and the Andes. During this period he made the second ascent of Mount Alberta, retrieving the "silver" ice axe left there 20 years earlier by the Yuko Maki party. In later years, John turned back to the Wind River Range (where he was struck by lightning) and then ascended Popocatepetl (which was smoking vigorously).
His first duties with the AAC involved helping Helen Buck with the transfer of Club books, etc from its rented offices on 46th Street to the new quarters given us by Dr. Ladd on 90th Street in New York City. Elected secretary in 1953, John assumed the presidency three years later and brought a number of important AAC functions into being. These included the Conservation Committee, under Bill Child; the Expeditions Committee, under George Bell; and convincing H. Adams Carter to take over the editorship of the American Alpine Journal to start his distinguished 39-year reign.
Robert Hicks Bates (b. 1911) became a Club member in 1935 at the instigation of Dr. Thorington. He served on the Club's Council from 1939 to 1943 and was then on the Club's Mountain Warfare Committee. Thereafter he helped edit the American Alpine Journal for many years until his election as vice-president in 1955. Bob served again on the Council from 1963 to 1971 and was elected our second Honorary President in 1988.
After climbs in the Alps and Tetons Bob took part in seven Alaskan expeditions—making first ascents of Mount Crillon and Lucania—on the summit of which his picture was taken with Brad Washburn. His wartime service (rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel) included giving training lectures to troops encountering mountain terrain and winter conditions. He made the first ascents of Mounts Hubbard and Alverstone in 1951 and played a leadership role in two expeditions to K2, those in 1938 and 1953.
A teacher of English at Phillips Exeter Academy by calling, Bob also gave considerably of his time to the Peace Corps and Outward Bound. In 1985 he was still at it and was co-leader of the party that made the first ascent of Ulugh Muztagh. Bob has written five books about mountains—two about K2, one about Belmore Browne, another on the English language literature of mountaineering and one semi-autobiographical The Love of Mountains Is Best.
Carlton Perry Fuller (1898-1984) is remembered in financial circles as the man who made Polaroid. He is remembered in the annals of The American Alpine Club as the man whose wise counsel and persuasive diligence brought the Club from an Eastern and somewhat Europe-oriented organization into the mainstream of American mountaineering.
As a successful investment banker in New York in 1941, he saw the future in Dr. Edwin Land's use of polarized light and "bet the farm" on its success. For the next quarter-century he guided the Polaroid Corporation to its position of world prominence. Never a spectacular alpinist, he was persistent and partook of several interesting ventures, such as the Carter-Washburn trip in 1957 to retrace and document the route of Dr. Cook's famous first ascent hoax on Mount McKinley.
Carl encouraged the1963 Expedition to Mount Everest which resulted in great prestige to American mountaineers; but his major legacy to American alpinism consisted in great measure of his recognition and encouragement of a many young "whippersnappers," several of whom came in time to succeed him to the Club's presidency.
By the end of his presidency, Club membership stood at 628 and the organization was ready to seriously span the nation.
Lawrence George Coveney (1889-1981) was once asked by one of his successors if he could be counted on to attend the Club's Diamond Jubilee dinner in Philadelphia in 1976. "Well, I 'd like to, [name], but at my age you can I count on anything!" In the event, he did attend and regaled many of those present with his delightful summary of having finally led The American Alpine Club to hold an annual meeting in the City of Seattle, heretofore believed by Easterners to be uncivilized, distant, rural and almost inaccessible. It turned out to be the first of many.
As an alpinist, Lawrence was deeply involved, along with our Honorary Member, Fritz H. E. Wiessner, in the "opening" of the Shawangunk cliffs during the late 1930s and participated with him in the first free ascent of Wyoming's Devils Tower.
As a Club functionary, Lawrence and his wife, Marion, served as a gracious hosts for several meetings of the Club's board at his home in South Royalton, Vermont, in the years that followed his presidency. His most enduring service to the Club came from serving as a bridge between a number of young "troublemakers" moving into positions of leadership and the Club 's financial "establishment."
A graduate of Pennsylvania State College, his business career was largely in the field of foreign trade, from an office headquarters in New York City.
Nicholas Bayard Clinch (b. 1930) was the second major expedition leader to be elected as president. Being transplanted from Texas to California he knew a great number of members, both from the East and the West.
During his presidency the public service activities of the Club expanded greatly with the establishment of the Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch. After his term as president he was "forced" to serve one term (1971-1973) as treasurer, "to atone for my mismanagement" during the previous three years. Nick also introduced the ice screw into North American climbing usage.
For almost 40 years, starting with a trip into the Coast Range of British Columbia in 1954, he organized and led a variety of major expeditions, including those resulting in the first ascents of: Hidden Peak (26,470 feet) in 1958, and Masherbrum (25,660 feet) in the Karakorum in 1960; Vinson Massif (16,200 feet) in the Sentinel Range of Antarctica in 1966, and Ulugh Muztagh (22,800 feet) in the Kun Lun range between Tibet and Xinjiang in 1985. For his extraordinary services to mountaineering he was later elected to Honourary Membership in The Alpine Club [London].
Between expeditions and playing a strong and ongoing leadership role in support of The American AlpineClub, he has practiced law, run the Sierra Club Foundation and paid close attention to a family business.
John Lathrop Jerome Hart (1904-1986) served as president of The American Alpine Club during the troubled years when students were occupying college presidents' offices and many icons of American society were under question, if not major attack. As President Clinch noted of his successor: "He did a remarkable job... ...while constantly being criticized by those who did not understand what he was doing, as well as by those who did understand." Nevertheless, following his turbulent years as president, Jerry became a much admired counselor to his successors.
Jerry brought his calm, legal mind to bear on the anti establishment trends of that period and undertook the first major revision of the Club's By-laws since its establishment. Under his leadership, The American Alpine Club rejoined the International Association of Alpine Societies (UIAA), of which we had been a founding member and in which we have since played an increasingly prominent role. He was also in the forefront of arranging for climbing exchanges with alpinists from the Soviet Union—a process that came to fruition in 1975.
Jerry was a Colorado Mountain enthusiast and student of the area's climbing history, with some of his earlier literary efforts still being regarded as authoritative. Ill health forced Jerry to relinquish the last few months of his presidency, which were filled out by Charles Hollister.
William Lowell Putnam (b. 1924), a television broadcaster during most of his years as a Club functionary, began his service to the Club as editor of our Canadian guidebooks in 1957. Elected to the Board in 1969, he served on it—in one capacity or another—for 30 years. Previously, he had been an officer and servant of the Appalachian Mountain Club and president of the Harvard Mountaineering Club.
Because of injuries suffered during combat as a member of the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, he was unable to ascend to high altitude, but made scores of first ascents in Western Canada and succeeded Dr. Thorington as THE authority on the mountains of that region. In such capacity he produced several historical reference works on mountaineering in the "Canadian Alps."
During his presidency, the Club adopted a number of major policy statements that remain guidelines for Club policy with respect to the public perceptions and obligations of alpinists. He also organized the first complete membership survey to consider a relocation of the Club offices and headquarters. In the 15 years following his presidency, Putnam served as treasurer and was the Club's principal representative to the UIAA, where he also served as vice-president. His later insistence on the adoption of a special By Law removed the pressure of short-range interests from the Board of Directors and placed the Club's endowment within the custody of a committee controlled by the past presidents.
James Francis Henriot (b. 1928) was the first Club president elected from the Pacific Northwest, where he has resided all his life. He previously served three years as president of The Mountaineers and as chairman of the AAC's Expeditions Committee.
Having climbed actively in his native Cascades since 1955, in 1960 he branched out to other parts of the world and has been atop the highest summits in five continents. During his presidency, the Club fought off an attempt by the City of New York to place our premises on the tax rolls, and since leaving that office he has maintained an active interest in Club affairs. He organized and chaired the Club's efforts to arrange international climbing exchanges and has attended many UIAA General Assemblies [including the first held in the United States—at Pinkham Notch, NH, in 1979] to assist with Club representation in that body.
Since his formal retirement from the active practice ofthe law, specializing in labor and employment issues, Jim has continued a vigorous life as a mediator and arbitrator but has not neglected his ongoing duties as an alpinist and to the Club. He has visited Outward Bound Schools throughout the world as well as CARE projects in Central America.
Thomas Callender Price Zimmermann (b. 1934), an historian of the Italian Renaissance, was dean of the faculty at Davidson College during his term as president. During his earlier years as a professor at Reed College he climbed widely in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.
While serving as chairman of the Club's Conservation Committee and later, during his term as president, he stimulated the drafting and adoption of a number of major and long-lived policy statements on matters such as Mountaineering Ethics (1972), Mountaineering Access and Use of Public Lands (1974), Alpine Environmental Practices (1974), Management of the National Parks (1975), and Mining in National Parks and Wilderness Areas (1975).
Professor Zimmermann saw the deleterious effect of a trend towards deficit financing ofthe Club's operations and initiated a fund drive to relieve pressure on the endowment. In this he laid the groundwork for the Club's later (and present) policy of having access to the capital of our endowment restricted by requiring the consent of representatives of the Club's past presidents to any withdrawals other than an annual return based on current yield.
ln 1981, much to the joy of several other members as well, Price became joined in matrimony with Margaret, daughter of the Club's distinguished servant, Dr. Benjamin Greeley Ferris, Jr.
Robert Wallace Craig (b. 1925) a native of Seattle, began a career of serious climbing and expert skiing in the Cascades at age 11. Returning home after naval service in World War II he picked up where he had left off and made a number of impressive climbs in Alaska and on Mount Rainier.
After the war he served as a park ranger and then acquired the guiding concession on Mount Rainier. Following post-graduate work in philosophy, Bob then served as a civilian instructor for the Mountain & Cold Weather Command in Colorado and made several new routes on Long's Peak before joining the 1953 American expedition to K2. On this venture, he and Pete Schoening established the team's high point. Later that year he undertook the management of the Aspen Institute, where he stayed for 10 years.
In 1974, Bob served as co-leader of the first climbing exchange with alpinists from the Soviet Union, which resulted in his book, Storm and Sorrow in the High Pamirs. In 1975 he founded the Keystone Center, which became a nationally recognized resource in science and behavioral education.
After his election as president of the Club, Bob set another first, by not presiding at the very next Board meeting (he was off on Mount Everest).
James Peter McCarthy (b. 1933) began climbing in 1951 in the Shawangunks with the Princeton Mountaineering Club. The following year he began a decades-long association with Dr, Hans Kraus, a team that made numerous and increasingly difficult ascents, there and elsewhere, pushing the level of free climbing difficulty to over 5. 10.
A highly regarded New York City trial attorney by profession, Jim served as a Club councillor from 1962 to 1967, then as secretary until 1972. Back on the Board again in 1984, he also served on the Board after his term as president and until 1994. In addition he has also served as a member—generally chairman—of numerous Club committees.
With Layton Kor, Royal Robbins and Dick McCracken, he made the first of big wall climbs in remote areas with that ofProboscis in the Logan Mountains in 1963 and followed it up three years later with a similar ascent of Lotus Flower Tower.
Jim participated in the ice-climbing renaissance in the East during the 1960s—with Yvon Chouinard—that culminated in his leading the first step-less ascent of Mount Washington's notorious Pinnacle Gully in 1970.
In recognition of his notable place in world mountaineering, he was elected vice-president of the UIAA in 2000.
Glenn Edward Porzak (b. 1948) is a past president of the Colorado Mountain Club and served 15 years as chairman of the AAC's Expeditions Committee. When not working for the Club, he is a practicing attorney specializing in western water law.
During his term as president, he concluded the long-simmering question of the Club's headquarters location and spearheaded the relocation to Golden and the very substantial fund-raising effort that went into the move from New York City. His leadership and stimulus were the principal factors in bringing the present American Mountaineering Center into existence and led to the proper housing of the Club's library and museum—after 80 years.
As an alpinist Glenn is the only president of amajor alpine society to have attained the summit of Mount Everest during his term of office. In addition, he has played leadership roles in the American ascents of Lhotse, Makalu, and Shishapangma, as well as being among the first persons to ascend the highest points of the seven continents. When nearer home he has climbed—often by new routes—all of the 100 highest peaks in Colorado.
John Edward (Jed) Williamson (b. 1939) was raised in New York State but received his higher education at the Universities of New Hampshire and Alaska. Already a skier, while at UNH he fell in with climbers, becoming a member of The American Alpine Club in 1963. His subsequent mountaineering ventures have taken him twice to the top of America, to Canada, Mexico, Bhutan, Tibet, China and Russia.
Jed has been a consultant and practitioner in education and outdoor pursuits. A member of the United States Biathlon team in the 1960s, he became executive director of the U.S. Biathlon Association in 1987. As a faculty member of the University of New Hampshire from 1873 to 1982 he designed the experiential educational program, "Live, Learn and Teach." He has served on the Boards of the Association for Experiential Education and the National Outdoor Leadership Schools, and in 1996 became president of Sterling College (Vermont).
Since 1974 he has been editor of the Club's notable public service publication Accidents in North American Mountaineering. He served on the Club's board from 1974 to 1998 and during his presidency was saddled with the wrenching dislocations that accompanied completion of the move of our headquarters from New York to Golden. His vigor initiated the large increase in membership, staff and services that began in those years.
Louis French Reichardt (b. 1943) was born and raised in Pasadena, the son of a prize winning architect and a mother who became a peace and civil rights activist. Lou's parents were avid pack backers and began taking him into the Sierra at age ten. He started rock climbing at Tahquitz Rock when he was attending Midland High School. A graduate ofHarvard ('64), where he was a member of the Mountaineering Club, he went on to Cambridge as a Fulbright scholar and thence to Stanford University, where he became a well-known medical researcher and also evolved a reputation as a prominent climber from his ascents in Yosemite and Alaska.
In 1969, he was a member of the ill-fated Dhaulagiri Expedition on which seven of America's best climbers perished in an avalanche. He returned in 1973 for a successful ascent, just months after solving the long-standing mystery of how a cell differentiates itself. His research into neural plasticity preceded his 1976 ascent of Nanda Devi by a new and technically difficult route.
By 1983, Lou was among America's foremost Himalayan mountaineers. He had climbed three 8,000 meter peaks and was the only American to have summited both Everest and K2, the former by the East Face and the latter without supplemental oxygen.
Alison Keith Osius (b. 1958) became the Club 's first woman president. She began high-angle technical climbing while attending Middlebury College in Vermont and honed her skills at the British Mountaineering Council 's Centre at Plas y Brenin in Wales. After obtaining her Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, she wrote articles for numerous magazines and one biography—that of Hugh Herr.
Since 1988 she has resided in or near Carbondale, Colorado, as an editor of Rock & Ice magazine. Married to Mike Benge in 1991, she is the mother of two boys, but has continued her career in rock climbing—up to 5. 13a—on short and long routes in North America, Australia and Europe. She has also competed successfully in climbing competitions and World Cups and was a three-time national champion.
During her term as president, the Club undertook its first extended public outreach campaign and followed this up by joining a lawsuit initiated by Tom Frost to stop encroachment on Yosemite's Camp 4. This action was successful in bringing on a more enlightened attitude by National Park managers toward the legitimate needs of climbers in areas such as this park. In a further such effort, she led the Club into rule-making with a reluctant U.S. Forest Service regarding the use of fixed anchors in Wilderness areas.
C James Frush (b.1950) began climbing near his birthplace of Trinidad, CO. From the nearby sandstone cliffs and 14,000 footers, he graduated, with time, to all the major peaks of the Pacific Northwest, in both winter and summer, and adjacent areas of British Columbia and Alaska.
After his first venture abroad in 1980, he established residency in Kathmandu and participated in numerous expeditions, making the first American ascent of Cho Oyu and leading the 1988 Everest expedition that placed the first American woman on that summit. He has returned to the Himalaya regularly—even while serving as the AAC's president—and has made several first ascents of6,000 meter peaks
A club member after 1983, he was elected to the Board in 1995, after service as Chairman of the Cascade Section. On the Board he has been chairman of the Expeditions Committee and in 1997 became Secretary.
During Jim's presidency, the Club undertook the first professional demographic survey of its membership and continued the growth of membership that has also seen the Club's budget reach the $1,000,000 mark and the staff reach a total of ten. Numerous other expansions and innovations have: (1) brought our library to the highest state of accessibility of any comparable facility in the world; (2) resulted in a major expansion of the American Mountaineering Center; (3) enhanced the dialog between climbers and federal land managers; (4) worked toward establishment of an AAC Hut and Campground system, based on the Grand Teton model; (5) made the American Alpine Journal, and other Club services, available electronically: and (6) encouraged the publication of this centennial volume.