Facebook Facebook instagram
2012 Annual Report


We transformed our programs to provide a more meaningful experience and offer greater value to you, our members.  Together we are building a vital hub for the climbing community. Here’s how.

89% of AAC members now have a staff representative taking action in their region. These five Regional Coordinators are in place to listen and advocate on your behalf, host events, award local conservation and climbing grants, and recruit and train volunteers. They support each of you in making your climbing world better every day.


Making good on our intention to provide critical lodging at world-class American climbing destinations, 2012 marked a sea change for the AAC. We made progress on four properties:
• Renewed a 10-year contract to operate the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch in Wyoming.
• Bought, renovated, and reopened the iconic Hueco Rock Ranch in Texas.
• Developed 40 acres at the New River Gorge in West Virginia and opened it to our first campers.
• Continued our persistent work on the Shawangunk Gateway Campground in New York. Contractors are chosen and financing is in place to break ground in 2013.
We also expanded our lodging partnerships to provide members with discounts at a new clubhouse in Nepal and at dozens of other destinations around the world.


To engage more climbers in the spirit of our grants, we introduced an award program for climbers of all disciplines, ages, and abilities. The Live Your Dream program encourages motivated climbers to build skills and confidence. With more than 150 applications in its first year, this grant became our most popular overnight. Also in its first year the Cornerstone Conservation Grant funded seven major projects around the country that will keep our climbing areas accessible and clean.

In 2012 your conservation needs bubbled up from our Sections across the country. The most critical projects were funded through the Cornerstone Conservation Grants program. We brought in our national team when issues needed attention. We communicated more clearly through the new Greenpoint e-newsletter to members. We continued to advocate to our nation’s land managers that climbing is a basic, human act and should therefore be called out clearly as an activity on all public lands. Recently, the National Park service codified climbing, and the fixed anchors we need, as a permanently legitimate us of Wilderness lands.

The AAC Library acquired 19,442 books and videos in 2012 (84% growth), solidifying our place as one of the world’s top climbing libraries, thanks especially to growth in our donated Central Asia and Himalayan collections. Much of our work was focused on Explore, a digital database that beta launched in early 2013. Explore provides online access to thousands of never-before-seen rare photos and documents from the AAC archives via galleries and exhibits. Soon this platform will allow you share and add and your own documents to the AAC archives with the click of a button.
We continued to operate the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum as a stable, self-funded entity with great attendance at monthly outreach events and huge support from its donors and friends.


We distributed the inaugural Guidebook to Membership in May, giving you a Club yearbook that also serves as a resource for accessing your benefits and getting more involved. Thanks to your input, we added new departments to the American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Mountaineering. And we made these titles available in a number of digital storefronts for your tablets and smartphones. But our biggest publications project has been to scan and segment every edition of these books. That’s 31,000 pages and 24,000 articles dating back to 1907. In 2013 all of this important climbing history will be available on the AAC website, putting Accidents online for the first time ever and vastly improving the AAJ search. You will have the ability to save your favorite articles to a personalized reading list and contribute to our ongoing metadata volunteer effort.

As the organization invested in its members, its members invested in the organization. Membership grew by 23%, a Club record, and we finished the fiscal year at an all-time high: 10,441 members. It wasn’t only our members who showed appreciation for our work in 2012 either—Climbing Magazine gave the AAC a Golden Piton Award for our service in the community.


Charlie Sassara took over as President despite facing huge time demands at work. After a year of leading the Club and paying special attention to succession planning and good governance, Charlie and the new Governance Committee tapped Mark Kroese to lead the Club in 2013 and beyond.

Membership, fundraising, and other revenue reached unprecedented levels in 2012. We finished slightly behind budget by about $126,000, missing the mark in part due to unexpected opportunities on the capital improvements front. We acquired an additional 17% of the American Mountaineering Center at very little cost, bringing our ownership to 50%. Combined with the purchase of the Hueco Rock Ranch, we improved our balance sheets by more than $2.2 million.


Together we are stronger, and there are more of us than ever. We are working hard to make sure the money and volunteerism we pool together is deployed as efficiently as possible on the programs you care about most. After such a prosperous 2012, we are dreaming big about an even more successful 2013. Thank you—and cheers—for being part of it.


Phil Powers
Executive Director


Download the PDF file.