Phil Powers - Executive Director
Phil Powers joined the American Alpine Club as executive director in May of 2005. His previous experience in the non-profit world includes service as vice president for institutional advancement at Naropa University and seventeen years with the National Outdoor Leadership School as chief mountaineering instructor and development/partnerships director. He remains an owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Powers is author of Wilderness Mountaineering and Climbing: Expedition Planning. His essay, "The Importance of Pace", was aired on NPR's "This I Believe" in 2006. Powers has led dozens of expeditions to South America, Alaska and Pakistan's Karakoram Range, including ascents of K2 and Gasherbrum II without supplemental oxygen. He made the first ascent of the Washburn Face on Denali, naming it in recognition of the impact longtime AAC member Bradford Washburn's photos had in the planning and route research of many Alaska climbs. Powers also made the first ascent of Lukpilla Brakk's Western Edge in Pakistan, and the first winter traverse of the Tetons' Cathedral Peaks. He continues to be an active climber and skier. He lives with his wife and children in Denver, Colorado..
Penn Burris - Director of Operations/Chief Financial Officer
Penn Burris, Director of Operations, has had a love affair with the mountains and climbing from a very young age. A Wyoming native, he spent his teenage years climbing in the Tetons, Devil's Tower, Vedawoo and the Wind River Range. Burris, a married father of 3 young teenagers, moved to Colorado in the mid 1980's to attend the University of Denver where he studied Economics and Political Science. While attending DU he furthered his involvement in the climbing community as the President of the DU Alpine Club, leading student climbing expeditions to Mexico, Alaska and throughout the U.S. After graduating, Penn went to work as a stockbroker for Dain Bosworth, a Minneapolis based Investment Banking firm. But, the outdoor industry kept calling him back. After 3 years, he left to start retail climbing shops and guiding service in the Colorado Front Range. Eventually, that lead to other outdoor industry careers including Outdoor Prolink/The Outdoor Network and 7 years as Vice President of American Outdoor Products; makers of Backpacker's Pantry food. Now living in Golden, CO, Burris explains "Working for the American Alpine Club is the perfect opportunity for me. It combines my years of development in the business world, my love of climbing and working with a really great and motivated group of people who truly care about the club and its future".
Erik Lambert - Information & Marketing Director
Erik Lambert has long been enriched by the vertical world—climbing and backcountry skiing in particular. His past decade was shaped just as much by New England granite, Wyoming powder, and Utah desert as it was by his experience in print and online media. He wrote a nonfiction mystery novel on an Arctic explorer that earned him a master’s in journalism from Dartmouth College. For many years afterward, he was Online Editor of Alpinist and Backcountry magazines; he also acted as Features and Arts Editor for the Jackson Hole News & Guide and freelanced for more than a dozen books, magazines and newspapers. Erik then joined the American Alpine Club team in November 2010 as Information and Marketing Director. He lives in Boulder, Colorado and feels most relaxed a thousand feet higher, on the conglomerate Flatirons above his home.
Keegan Young - Development Director
Keegan spent his early years exploring the wilderness and trout streams around his home in Idaho. Though always awed by the Tetons as a child, it was not until later in life that he became serious about climbing and sought out summits in Wyoming and Colorado. His passion for mountaineering runs deep and is magnified by his love for the climbing community. His attraction to nature and conservation led him to a fundraising career with the Tulsa Zoo before joining the AAC staff in 2011. Keegan majored in Marketing and Management at Oklahoma State University. He and his wife were married on the banks of the Snake River after spending a day summiting the Grand for their first time. During the past decade they’ve spent most of their free time driving all night to 14er trailheads and the amazing ice near Ouray. They are thrilled to finally raise their three children closer to the mountains and give back to the community and culture they love.
Craig Hoffman - Information Technology Director
Craig Hoffman grew up north of Chicago but migrated west as soon a possible. While attending Fort Lewis College in Durango, Craig took up mountaineering, rock climbing, telemark skiing and trail running. Following graduation Craig began working as a guide and had the opportunity to climb throughout the Himalayas, Alaska and South America. Craig later became an instructor for the Outward Bound School, instructing courses from 21-83 days through out Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska and Washington. Craig has worked for several small and large technology firms throughout the state and has started and operated his own web shop. In 2002 Craig moved to Boulder where he met his wife and running/climbing partner. The two moved to Chicago for the last several years while she attended medical school but are now happily living back in Louisville, CO and enjoying getting back out climbing and running.
Elizabeth Surles - Library Director
Elizabeth moved to Golden at the end of 2011 after completing her Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. A native Hoosier, some of Elizabeth’s essential criteria for post-graduation employment included escape from the lowlands of the Midwest and not working for the man. She brings over ten years of experience to the AAC, having created, cared for, and made accessible digital collections belonging to organizations including the non-profit Starr-Gennett Foundation, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, and University of Illinois Library, as well as having completed volunteer stints at CU Boulder and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Elizabeth never expected to connect her love for climbing and the outdoors with her work as an archivist but was psyched to join the AAC team. She believes that improving access to and carefully stewarding the Club’s digital resources will help climbers get the information they need and ensure the longevity of the Club’s important history. Since moving to Colorado, Elizabeth’s expanded her climbing horizons to include ice climbing, and she’s pleased to take advantage of Colorado’s numerous opportunities for trad and sport climbing, backpacking, snowshoeing, hiking, and drinking hoppy microbrews.
Carol Kotchek - Bookkeeper
Carol Kotchek moved here in 2002 from Sun Valley, Idaho and obtained a degree in accounting in 2007 from Regis University. She started climbing at the City of Rocks, Idaho in the era of painter pants, rugby shirts, and clanging hexes. Having climbed through the leopard skin lycra phase she's now back to placing trad gear with an occasional foray to sport climbing areas. Her 15 minutes of fame was being the cover girl on the City of Rocks guide book for many years. Carol has been actively involved in climbing access issues for many years. She was on the City of Rocks climbing management team, the Las Vegas Climber's Liaison Council (when she lived in Las Vegas for two winters), and is currently on the Flatirons Climbing Council. "Although working on committees can be frustrating, it is great to see the truly positive results of your efforts a few years down the road." She feels that working at the Alpine Club is another great opportunity to participate in the preservation of this great sport and hopes that efforts put in now will elevate the climbing experience for future generations.
Janet Miller - Executive Assistant/Grants Manager
Janet has been with the AAC since 2006. She came with over 6 years administrative experience, starting with Outward Bound in 2000 and then two years in New York working for the National Maritime Historical Society. Upon returning to Colorado in 2006 she came on board here at the AAC. As Executive Assistant she provides administrative support to Phil Powers and other directors on staff and also administrates the AAC's ever groing grants program. Prior to Outward Bound she spent almost a decade working in veterinary medicine as a certified veterinary technician.
Janet enjoys many outdoor activities including hiking, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing and sea kayaking.
Lauren Shockey - Membership Coordinator
Lauren Shockey hails from the great state of Texas. She grew up spending every moment in the great outdoors and got her first taste of climbing in Ward, Colorado as a young camper. She then went on to be a Youth Rock Climbing Instructor in North Carolina while in college. Also, while attending Southwestern Adventist University, she learned that she had a passion for working with non-profit organizations. After graduating from SWAU with her bachelors degree, she and her husband moved to Denver, a place where they could get their fill of climbing, skiing, and hiking. In 2009, Lauren was excited for the opportunity to join the AAC staff and merge her two interests of non-profit and the great outdoors.
Eddie Espinosa - Northwest Regional Coordinator
Eddie Espinosa grew up in Puyallup, WA and has stayed in the Pacific Northwest most of his life. He started going into the outdoors as a child, following his dad in and around the trails of Mt. Rainier, the Olympics and the North Cascades and eventually finding his way into climbing and alpinism while attending Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Since college he’s worked as a climbing and kayaking guide and instructor, taught climbing courses at the University of Puget Sound and coordinated the outdoor program at the Downtown Seattle YMCA. Most recently he was the Marketing and Brand Manager for Feathered Friends, an expedition outfitter and specialty climbing store in Seattle. He also currently serves on the board of the Washington Climbers Coalition and volunteers with Everett Mountain Rescue.
Eddie has climbed throughout the world, enjoying all disciplines from rock to alpine and ice climbing, and feels just as home on a big glacier as he does on a sport route. Of all the places he’s been, he still loves the North Cascades. He lives in Seattle with his wife Ann.
Sarah Garlick - Northeast Regional Coordinator
Sarah Garlick is a climber based out of North Conway, New Hampshire. Originally from North Carolina, Sarah learned to climb in New England as a college student, getting her start bouldering in Lincoln Woods, Rhode Island in the late nineties. She’s since explored mountains and crags around the world, from the walls of Yosemite to the alpine peaks of Patagonia. Last year, Sarah led an expedition to Greenland, where she and her teammates established a new free route up a remote granite wall. Trained as a geologist and writer, Sarah’s book, Flakes, Jugs & Splitters: A Rock Climber’s Guide to Geology, won the 2009 Banff Mountain Book Award. Sarah has been deeply involved in the Northeast climbing community for many years. She served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kismet Rock Foundation, and she's been the director of the Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival and International Mountain Climbing School's Women's Rock Weekend. Sarah lives in North Conway with her husband, climber and filmmaker Jim Surette.
Jeff Deikis - Western Regional Coordinator
Jeff Deikis, originally hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, learned to climb on the overhanging sandstone of the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. After graduating from the University of Michigan, and embracing the dirt-bag lifestyle, Jeff moved into the bed of his truck and began a four year odyssey exploring the Nation's climbing--from Rumney, New Hampshire to Yosemite Valley, California and everywhere in-between. While coming from a sport climbing and bouldering background, Jeff does enjoy plugging the occasional gear and getting terrified high off the deck. When not on the rock, he can be found trudging into the mountains, snowboard in tow, looking for any line that could inspire him.
More recently, Jeff has made the sunny skies of California his home, living in the Eastern Sierra amongst the juggernaut granite boulders of Bishop.
Jenn Flemming - Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator
Jenn is originally from New England—she grew up in Massachusetts and began rock climbing in the gym in Boston in 2005. From there she was hooked; after college moving west to Colorado and fully embracing the lifestyle, community, and climbing of the Rockies. Jenn has a Master’s degree in anthropology and has worked throughout the developing world in community-based programs. She is truly excited to bring these skills to the AAC and the local climbing communities in our region.
Jenn's been lucky enough to climb all over the world—New Zealand, South Africa, Bolivia, Tajikistan, and Iran are a few of her favorites —but her true favorite place in the world is her backyard of Eldorado Canyon. She's happiest plugging gear, but is easily convinced to sport climb or boulder.
Lisa Hummel - Southeast Regional Coordinator
Originally from Milwaukee, WI, my experience as a whitewater rafting guide during college at Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, NC was very instrumental in my gravitation towards the outdoors, the culture surrounding it, and ultimately climbing out of the river, and on to the rock. Boone lends itself to some of the best bouldering in America, and I was instantly hooked, and took full advantage.
As soon as I graduated from ASU in 2005, with a B.S. in Cultural Anthropology and concentration in Sustainable Development, I began traversing the country to climb in the fabled boulder fields I had heard tales about. I have spent extensive amounts of time in climbing areas around North America over the past six years. While the rock always holds a challenge, and the scenery is always stunning, the climbing culture and the relationships I have cultivated solidify why I am a climber.
The Southeast—Appalachia in particular—houses some of the greatest characters as well as some of the best world-class climbing;from run-out hairball trad in Linville Gorge, NC, to steep jug-hauls in the Red River Gorge, KY, to the bouldering-style sport routes in the New River Gorge, WV. Not to mention some of the best rock quality and high concentrations of bouldering from Chattanooga, TN, to Horse Pens 40, AL, to Boone, NC. There are enough established boulder fields, and many more to be discovered, to keep anyone busy for a lifetime.
The “Boonerang” always brings me home, and the Southeast is at the core of my extended climbing community. While there are very diverse sub-cultures and sub-regions within the Southeast, I believe we all have similar goals and values at heart being climbers.
My roots have grown deep and wide here in the Southeast, and I am very excited to get out as Regional Coordinator. I am looking forward to connecting with local members, volunteers, and climbing organizations to establish some great local gatherings, and many meaningful projects and goals.
Philip Swiny - Facilities Director
Philip is originally (sort of) from New England, but has lived and worked all over the country. He grew up spending a great deal of time outdoors with his family, and has continued to do so as much as possible both professionally and recreationally ever since.
He has lead and managed youth conservation programs, worked as a rock-climbing guide, coordinated international research expeditions and most everything in between.
Philip joined the AAC in 2012 as the GTCR manager and has spent summers at the Ranch since, he also traveled to El Paso, TX to coordinate renovations and manage the all-new Hueco Rock Ranch. Philip has now moved to AAC HQ to handle logistics for all existing properties and help research and develop new lodging locations.
Debbie & Gary Bunten - GTCR Assistant Management Team
Debbie and Gary joined the Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch staff as assistant managers in the summer of 2012. Long time visitors to the Tetons, their passion began twenty years ago when they first visited the area. It's where they first learned to climb, which was a perfect addition to their penchant for the outdoors. Their love of backpacking, hiking, and cycling has led them on many national and international adventures. Gary recently completed a career with an electric utility company. Debbie has a diverse background that includes dance, fitness, and administrative work. They are excited to be associated with the American Alpine Club, and feel that being at the GTCR, where they have visited so many times in the past, is a dream come true. Both are originally from Georgia.
Chad Namolik - Hueco Rock Ranch Manager
Chad Namolik brings several years of management experience from his work at Bearpaw High Sierra Camp and Wuksachi Lodge, both located in Sequoia National Park California. Although his passion for the outdoors came to him as a youth rambling around the hills of his home state, West Virginia, it was California’s High Sierra Mountains that fueled his passion for climbing. After several years of bouldering and sport climbing, Chad’s current focus is long traditional moderates and high alpine climbing. Chad also enjoys cooking and baking, fly-fishing and playing his ukuleles.
Robert Berry - Hueco Rock Ranch Assistant Manager
Bobby is from Fort Worth, Texas but now spends much of his time in the Southeast, specifically all along the Appalachian corridor. After spending 6 years as an IT manager for Marriott hotels, Bobby answered the call from the mountains and other wild places, which brought him to work with The Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards and Appalachian Trail Conservancy. His adventures began with a six month hike of the Appalachian Trail. Now from the spring to fall he is a crew leader working or volunteering for various non-profit organizations maintaining and building trails.
Though most of his climbing related activities nowadays involve trail work to access areas such as Linville Gorge, he cut his calluses’ on the rocks of Reimers ranch in the late 90’s sport climbing. He can’t wait to merge his talents with the AAC and explore what Hueco Tanks has to offer.
Vickie Hormuth - Fund Development Coordinator
Tricia Boomhower - Community Relations Coordinator
David Boersma - Marketing Manager
David Boersma, originally from Holland, Michigan, got his start climbing in Joshua Tree NP when he moved west to California on a whim. Amidst stints in Pasadena, Santa Cruz, and Ft. Collins, he spent time hiking much of the Appalachian Trail and motorcycling the Andes Mountains. After studying digital film and video production at the Illinois Institute of Art–Chicago, David was a graphic designer for several marketing agencies, on a multitude of outdoor industry brands. When not behind his computer, like every other Coloradoan, he's typically found tucked away somewhere in the Rocky Mountains backpacking, snowboarding, or climbing with his wife and two dogs, cooler in tow.
Dougald MacDonald - Executive Editor
Ever since the mid-1990s, when he decided business journalism wasn’t his thing and quit his job as editor of the Denver Business Journal, Dougald MacDonald has been a climbing journalist. In addition to writing a book about Longs Peak in Colorado and countless print and online articles, he has worked as Editor and Publisher of Rock & Ice, Editorial Director for Climbing and Urban Climber magazines, and now Executive Editor of the AAC. In this position, he is responsible for the American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Mountaineering, as well as the club’s publications website. Dougald has been climbing for 35 years and still enjoys just about every aspect of the sport, from bouldering to long alpine routes. His current dream is to put up new free routes on Baffin Island.
Erik Rieger - Assistant Editor
Lindsay Griffin - Senior Editor, The American Alpine Journal