Forest Service Eases Access for Groups

The next generation climbing on our public lands. Photo credit: AAC's Ron Funderburke

The next generation climbing on our public lands. Photo credit: AAC's Ron Funderburke

Our national forests provide awe and inspiration for millions of climbers. Their vertical playgrounds capture our spirit of adventure and challenge us to dig deep for our best selves. Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced that they will make it easier for outfitters, guides, schools and non-profits to take groups into our national forests. This announcement begins an important turning point in climbing access. Historically, individuals and organizations that teach climbing have faced challenges in obtaining permits from the USFS. They are often subject to significant fees, commercial use authorizations, and other requirements. The American Alpine Club has long been advocating for reforming the system.

The education and mentorship provided by guides, outdoor leaders and instructors are critical for the development of competent climbers who travel light on the land. We believe that individuals and organizations that teach climbing should have easy access to the land they need for classes. Doing so will lead to a greater appreciation for public lands and will help cultivate the next generation of stewards.  “We need to be active in meeting a changing population of climbers and other visitors to our National Forests. Good instruction gives people the skills for a lifetime of enjoyment they can pursue safely and with the knowledge to care for the land we all love,” says Phil Powers, AAC CEO.

The Forest Service states that its new, streamlined approach to special-use permitting will be implemented over time and will make it easier and faster to receive or renew permits. Steps being taken include:

  • Increasing consistency in the permit process across the country.
  • Increasing use of allowable waivers when a special use permit is not required.
  • Investing in technology, including an electronic permit application process.

However, sufficient funding is critical to making it happen. Without the resources to implement these steps, land managers won’t have the capacity to process new permits. Budget cuts on top of the growing costs of fighting wildfire has come at the expense of the staff who administers permits. We still need Congress to pass a real budget fix. A fire funding solution will help ensure that the USFS will be able to welcome those who want to learn how to climb through instruction on public lands.  We take our responsibility for caring for these lands seriously and we applaud the Forest Service’s efforts. 

Past President Nick Clinch Passes Away

Nick and his books at his home library. Photo: Clinch Collection

Nick and his books at his home library. Photo: Clinch Collection

Past president and legendary expedition leader Nick Clinch has passed away today at the age of 85. Beyond Clinch's important role in the history of American mountaineering, his devotion to the AAC helped the Club thrive over the 62 years of his membership. He was a driving force behind the Club's library and Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch.

“Nick certainly contributed much to climbing in America. He was a brilliant expedition leader and a wonderful diplomat. But I think most of his contributions were behind the scenes,” said CEO Phil Powers. “He was always there with the counsel to get us through the hard decisions. I have benefitted from knowing a number of the great men on whose shoulders we stand as climbers today—but I’ll miss none more than Nick.”

Nick, thank you for everything you did for the Club and climbing.

Read more about Nick's many accomplishments: http://bit.ly/24RSeqH

Nick Clinch and team on Hidden Peak. Photo: Andrew Kauffman Collection

Nick Clinch and team on Hidden Peak. Photo: Andrew Kauffman Collection

AAMEE team back at McMurdo (left to right) Standing: Evans, Wahlstrom, Clinch, Corbet, Schoening. Kneeling: Hollister, Silverstein, Marts, Long, Fukushima. Photo: 1966 AAME team

AAMEE team back at McMurdo (left to right) Standing: Evans, Wahlstrom, Clinch, Corbet, Schoening. Kneeling: Hollister, Silverstein, Marts, Long, Fukushima. Photo: 1966 AAME team

A new year, a new name!

This is a big year for Accidents in North American Climbing.
You read that right: We’ve updated the name of Accidents to reflect the evolving nature of modern climbing.
 
Nearly two-thirds of the incidents covered in Accidents each year involve rock climbing instead of mountaineering. And the great majority of new climbers and new AAC members—the ones who will benefit most from this book’s educational lessons—are primarily rock climbers. As the name suggests, Accidents in North American Climbing is a resource for ALL climbers.
 
That’s not all that’s new in Accidents. For the first time in the book’s nearly 70-year history, we’ll be publishing in full color this year. Thanks to our dedicated and growing team of volunteer regional editors, we have more reports than ever. And the new Sharp End podcast, based on the stories in the pages of Accidents, is growing by leaps and bounds.
 
Get involved! Encourage your climbing partners to read Accidents in North American Climbing. (Current AAC members will receive the 2016 edition this August.) And if you value our work, consider supporting Accidents with a donation

Excellence in Climbing Awards Dinner Recap

Photo: AAC member Michael Lim/Edwin Teran

Photo: AAC member Michael Lim/Edwin Teran

The AAC’s first ever Excellence in Climbing Awards Dinner at the History Colorado Center in Denver, presented by Adidas Outdoor, celebrated the inspirational 2016 Hall of Mountaineering Excellence inductees, the Alpina Cutting Edge awardees and raised critical funds for AAC programs and institutions. 

Read what the press had to say: 

True Heroes of Climbing
"The word “hero” gets thrown around a lot in climbing. But as impressive as summiting K2 or bouldering V15 might be, the genuine heroes of climbing are those whose achievements help make the world a better place..."—Climbing.com

Women Are On The Rise In The Climbing World
"It was a giant stepping stone,” said Libby Sauter, the award recipient and also the keynote speaker of the night. Sauter is the youngest climber to be added to the Hall, and only one of five women in its history, since the club’s birth more than a century ago..."—Gear Junkie.com 

View the photo album

 

Thank You for Speaking Up to Protect Climbing in Southeast Utah

We received 1,135 thoughtful letters about the importance of protecting climbing southeast Utah. Eight AAC and AF staff read every single letter. We are thrilled with what came over the wire. Our team put together a report based on your letters that we shared with policymakers and partners in Washington, DC. The response we got in DC proves again that your voice matters and makes a difference.

Read more

Hayden Kennedy and Kyle Dempster Receive First Annual Alpina AAC Cutting Edge Award

Photo: Kyle Dempster

Photo: Kyle Dempster

On behalf of Alpina Watches and the American Alpine Club, Hayden Kennedy and Kyle Dempster have been selected to receive the first annual Alpina AAC Cutting Edge Award for their outstanding 2012 accomplishment in establishing two new routes in Pakistan's Karakoram, the east face of K7 and the south face of Ogre I.

The Alpina AAC Cutting Edge Award will be presented each year to one climbing team who, with the aid of an AAC climbing grant, demonstrates excellency in skills and accomplishment in cutting edge climbing objectives and who upholds the values of the American Alpine Club, acting as world-class ambassadors to American climbing both domestically and abroad. Hayden and Kyle's 2012 achievements in Pakistan were funded in part through the AAC's Lyman Spitzer grant.

Read about the ascents. 

Learn more about the Alpina AAC Cutting Edge Award.

2016 Excellence in Climbing Awards Dinner

Registration is now open!

What do these names have in common? Tom Frost, Hugh Herr, John Roskelley, Libby Sauter, and Geoff Tabin.

These are your 2016 Hall of Mountaineering Excellence inductees!

They will be recognized at the inaugural AAC Excellence in Climbing Awards Dinner on May 7th, 2016. We invite you to join us at the History Colorado Center to honor these amazing climbers who achieve both on and off the mountain.

This special event includes a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, high cuisine, keynote by Libby Sauter, and an after party with live music.

Learn more.

2016 Annual Benefit Dinner Recap

Over 400 people gathered in Washington, D.C., at the historic Mayflower Hotel for the American Alpine Club’s 2016 Annual Benefit Dinner presented by REI and The North Face. Legendary climbers of all generations, from Kai Lightner to Conrad Anker, mingled with politicians like Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, filling the room in support of the Club and climbing in America. The dinner celebrated the members of our community that we have recently lost and the enduring bonds that we create in the mountains and at the crag, serving as a powerful reminder of why we climb.

Secretary of the Interior Jewell took the stage to honor the memory of former AAC President Doug Walker, who passed away in a hiking accident in the Cascades in December. She praised Walker’s love of the outdoors and his dedication to creating ways for others to get outside themselves. Jewell concluded with the promise of expediting the permit process for those geared at getting kids outside. While she joked the lawyers called it the order for "Increasing Access to Extended Outdoor Experiences for Under-Resourced Youth," she said would affectionately refer to it as the Walker Permit.

Online Exhibit: 1966 American Antarctic Mountaineering Expedition

Fifty years ago, a team of 10 American men made the daring first ascents of six of Antarctica’s tallest peaks, including Vinson Massif. The AAC will honor the 1966 team for their landmark accomplishments in Antarctica with the President’s Gold Medal at the 2016 Annual Benefit Dinner on February 27.

Our latest exhibit documents the expedition and celebrates the daring achievements of team members Nicholas Clinch, Barry Corbet, John Evans, Eiichi Fukushima, Charley Hollister, Bill Long, Brian Marts, Pete Schoening, Samuel Silverstein, and Richard Wahlstrom.