New Season of Craggin' Classics Announced

The Craggin’ Classic Series, powered by CAMP USA and supported nationally by ScarpaArc'TeryxSterling Rope, and Rock & Ice, is the country's only nationally-touring, grassroots climbing festival. Uniting climbers around the campfire at world-class destinations, these special 3-day events celebrate all things climbing. From learning new skills and techniques, to sharing stories, sharing the rope and inspiring one another; from drinking beers and howling at the moon, to giving back and caring for our local crags, these events are the real deal:
Climbing events for climbers, by climbers.

Learn more about the series and specific events. 

Cornerstone Conservation Grant Applications Open

The AAC's Cornerstone Conservation grant powered by REI creates healthy climbing landscapes, promotes respect for the places we climb, and empowers local climbing communities. Grants range from $1,000 to $8,000, depending on the size and scope of project.

Applications for the 2017 Cornerstone Conservation grant cycle are open until August 15. Applicants will be advised on or before September 30. 

View past grants and find information on applying to make a difference in your climbing community. 

Nick Clinch to be Celebrated at Memorial this June 16

Nick Clinch in his library. 

Nick Clinch in his library. 

A memorial will be held for Nicholas B. Clinch on Friday, June 16 at 8:00 P.M. at the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch. 

Nick Clinch (1930–2016) was president of the American Alpine Club from 1968–1970, and was the founder of the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch, which first opened in 1970. Mr. Clinch last visited Grand Teton National Park in August, 2010, when he was the guest of honor and principal speaker at the 40 anniversary celebration of the the Climbers’ Ranch. 

You are welcome to come join us; learn more about Nick and the event here

Nick Clinch (center, standing) and team at McMurdo, 1966. 

Nick Clinch (center, standing) and team at McMurdo, 1966. 

2017 Live Your Dream Grant Recipients Announced

The American Alpine Club and The North Face are proud to announce the recipients of 2017 Live Your Dream grant. In total, $70,000 was awarded to 144 individuals from across the nation, making 2017 the most successful year in the history of the Live Your Dream grant program. Nearly 1 out of every 3 applicants received an award. See the complete listing of grant recipients and their trips.

The climbing grant for climbers, by climbers, the Live Your Dream grant seeks to fund every-day adventurers looking take their abilities to the next level. Be it transitioning out of the gym or establishing a first ascent in the greater ranges, the purpose of this grant is to support and promote unforgettable experiences for mountain adventurers—to dream big, to grow, and to inspire others.

The Live Your Dream grant is powered nationally by The North Face and supported locally through generous contributions from the Hans Saari Fund, the John L. Horn Memorial Fund, the Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest, proceeds stemming from the AAC's Craggin Classic Series, as well as private donations from local individuals, organizations, and fundraising efforts by local AAC Sections & Chapters.

The Live Your Dream grant is community developed and locally administered with grant applications read, evaluated, and awarded by seven Regional Selection Committees comprised of local community members, volunteers, and professional athletes.

The 2018 Live Your Dream grant cycle will open for applications on February 1, 2018.


Christopher Bruno, from Ann Arbor MI, was awarded $900 for a Sea-Summit-Sea Traverse of Fairweather Range, including attempt on Mount Fairweather. This expedition will attempt to incorporate 4 skill sets a 160 nautical mile sailboat transit from Juneau to Lituya Bay, a trek into the mountains from the beach drop off, a climbing attempt on Mount Fairweather, and finally an exit via skis and packrafts to Haines.

Marisa Earll, from La Jolla, CA, was awarded $350 to travel to the Wind Rivers and lead five, 5.10 routes on five of the most prominent and spectacular formations in the Cirque of Towers and Deep Lake, gaining new experience climbing in the backcountry while pushing her personal grade limit.

Zack Sawyer, from Scarborough, ME, was awarded $700 for two weeks of alpine climbing in Chamonix, France, with the ultimate goal of climbing the Trois Monts route up Mont Blanc, the south face of Aiguille du Midi, and The Voie Rébuffat-Baque.

View all of the winners.

2017 Excellence in Climbing Online Auction Now Open!


Our online auction is your chance to get great deals on gear, art, dream trips and more. 

Highlights include: photo of Everest from National Geographic photographer Bill Thompson, the award winning Inti 2 Tent from Cotopaxi, signed books by Reinhold Messner and Kit DesLauriers, and tons of gear from our partners like CAMP USAPatagonia, and LOWA.

Auction closes June 3 at 7:45 pm (MST). Get your bids in now!

Climbers Lobby for Public Lands

Climbers and policymakers discuss the future of our public lands. Stephen Gosling photo. 

Climbers and policymakers discuss the future of our public lands. Stephen Gosling photo. 

On May 11th, 2017, the AAC and Access Fund joined forces in our nation’s capital to Climb the Hill to advocate for public lands, the outdoor recreation economy and adequate funding for land management agencies. With a team of 50 climbers—including Tommy CaldwellSasha DiGiulianAlex HonnoldKai Lightner and Libby Sauter—we dispersed throughout Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and leaders of land management agencies.

Climbers showed up in force and found a responsive audience. Lawmakers were impressed by the unique perspectives of the climbing community. 

Learn more about our impact and experience in our Policy Update

Did you miss us live in DC? Watch it here.

AAC Volunteers Bring New Heights Program to Underserved Kids

A report from AAC Triangle Chapter Chair David Thoenen

AAC Volunteer: “What's most fun about climbing?”
Shalynn, age 12: “Belaying… because that's when my friends know that I've got their back.”

The AAC Triangle Chapter's New Heights program for underserved children began with an informal outing in the fall of 2014. A dozen or so kids enrolled in a YMCA mentoring program for at-risk children spent an evening with AAC volunteers, enjoying their first climbing experience. The Y and the Triangle Rock Club North Raleigh, provided logistical support while AAC volunteers belayed, cheered and laid out a pizza spread.

It was so much fun that the group did it again a month later. The seed had been planted.

AAC volunteers Rebecca Lem, Derek Morgan, Cathy Kramer and John Dagenhart recognized that the chapter could do more for the kids than simply get them into the gym for special outings. They proposed the creation of an ongoing outreach program, which launched in February 2015 with support from the Y, the Triangle Rock Club, and a dozen more AAC volunteers. Connie Lightner (Kai Lightner’s mother) and lead volunteer Rebecca christened the program New Heights.

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New Heights is a program, not an event. Twelve kids per location are enrolled in the fall and expected to attend monthly sessions during the school year. In addition to offering climbing skill development, the program emphasizes character development, particularly goal-setting, positive interaction and relationships with adults and peers, physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

Each monthly session is structured to focus on both the kids' individual objectives and the program's objectives. On arrival, each child is expected to pick-up their shoes and harnesses and gear up independently. After stretching, individuals will work on a combination of bouldering problems and top-roping skills with their AAC climbing mentor. The evening wraps up with a pizza or sandwich dinner buffet for all.

It's great to see kids moving up the YDS scale at the gym. But it's maybe even better to see the older kids like Shaylynn taking on the challenge and responsibility of belaying, letting friends know they’ve “got their back.” 

A program that begins each school year with some fear of heights and general apprehension, ultimately yields significant personal growth. Y Learning leader Jennifer Watson has seen the growing self-confidence in all of her participating students – a development that translates to their academic perseverance and supportive interactions with peers, tutors and mentors.

In February 2017, the program expanded to support a new YMCA branch with a community of predominately Latino children. New Heights is now running monthly at two Triangle Rock Club location, supports two YMCA branches, and has over 20 AAC volunteers.

Thanks to local fundraising support and a generous scholarship from the Triangle Rock Club, this summer New Heights will sponsor twelve children from each location to attend one week of climbing day camp at the Triangle Rock Club. Also, in July, the program will fully sponsor two teenagers to attend a week of residential outdoor rock climbing at YMCA Camp Hanes! In 2018, New Heights plans to bring another Y branch into the program at the North Carolina State University climbing wall.

Growth requires solid program management. For the past two years, AAC volunteer John White has done a superb job as the New Heights Program Director, delivering an outstanding program across both locations.

“I've enjoyed supporting a program where perseverance and tenacity are nurtured through fun, exciting and engaging physical activity,” John says. “The program gives our kids the opportunity to apply their own definitions for success and failure to climbing. From there, I hope our kids are better prepared to apply the same goal-setting feedback to their everyday activities.”

John is supported by over twenty-five AAC climbing volunteer mentors and the chapter's New Heights Steering Committee, which includes long-term New Heights volunteers Ashton Drew and Bob Silk and is chaired by Brian Peters.  

Interested in learning more about our chapter program? Check out opportunities by location to find out what’s happening near you.

Secretary Zinke Visits Utah to Review Bears Ears National Monument

Photo: AAC member Jason Gebauer

Photo: AAC member Jason Gebauer

Secretary Zinke arrived in southeastern Utah on May 7th to assess Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. His visit is the result of President Trump’s April 26, 2017 Executive Order that directs the Department of Interior to review the Antiquities Act and select national monuments designated over the last 21 years.

Bears Ears National Monument holds incredible significance to the climbing community. It is home to world-class climbing areas like Indian Creek and Valley of the Gods, and it is the first national monument proclamation that acknowledges the importance of rock climbing. 

Bears Ears was listed as a priority under Trump’s Executive Order, and an initial report is due by June 10, 2017. Zinke intends to review the process by which Bears Ears was designated a national monument, in order to determine if it complied with the law. If this review is comprehensive and transparent, Access Fund, American Alpine Club and Outdoor Alliance believe it will find that the monument, in its entirety, is justified. The previous administration spent years conducting a thorough assessment of the Bears Ears region that included a wide spectrum of stakeholders—including climbers—and this process resulted in a well-substantiated national monument boundary that protects threatened cultural resources and recreation areas.

We are pleased that Secretary Zinke has agreed to meet with the Inter-tribal Coalition. The coalition of Native American Tribes is an important stakeholder group that will stress the importance of protecting the entire Bears Ears region, as well as describe their role in the multi-year effort to protect the sensitive landscape. We encourage Secretary Zinke to eventually meet with all stakeholder groups, including the climbing community, to ensure a comprehensive review. Access Fund has reached out to Secretary Zinke to offer a private tour of Indian Creek in order to share the climbing community’s perspective on the region’s recreation resources. Climbers will also meet with his staff next week during Climb the Hill to discuss a range of public land issues including Bears Ears.

Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and Outdoor Alliance will continue to interface with the Department of Interior throughout the national monument review process. The Department of Interior is only accepting comments on Bears Ears National Monument for 15 days after they publish their official notice shortly, and we will send an action alert to mobilize climbers.  

Other national monuments under review that contain climbing areas are San Gabriel Mountains and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments. We will keep the climbing community posted on the national monument review process, but in the meantime please send Secretary Zinke comments regarding the exceptional value of Bears Ears National Monument.

AAC Announces 2017 Research Grant Recipients

Photo by Matt Jenkins of Research Grant recipient Kate McHugh.

Photo by Matt Jenkins of Research Grant recipient Kate McHugh.

We're proud to announce the recipients of the 2017 Research Grants.

Our Research Grants program supports scientific endeavors in mountain environments around the world. As climbers, we have a responsibility to understand how our outdoor resources are being affected in changing world. Part of the AAC’s mission is to respect and support the areas we enjoy, one of the most important ways to do that is by funding research to better understand such environments.

Check out the winners and their projects in our press release

American Alpine Club and Access Fund Host Second Annual Climb the Hill Event

Celebrated climbers Conrad Anker, Tommy Caldwell, Sasha DiGiulian, Alex Honnold, Kai Lightner and Libby Sauter will join the American Alpine Club and Access Fund to represent the climbing community in Washington D.C. for Climb the Hill, an event sponsored by Adidas. On May 11, 2017, both organizations, alongside a team of elite climbers and outdoor industry partners, will meet with Congressional representatives and policymakers to advocate for public lands, outdoor recreation and improved climbing management.

Learn more in our press release

AAC Statement on President Trump’s Executive Order for a 
Review of Existing National Monument Designations under the Antiquities Act

Photo: AAC member Jason Gebauer

Photo: AAC member Jason Gebauer

AAC Statement on President Trump’s Executive Order for a Review of Existing National Monument Designations under the Antiquities Act

April 26, 2017: This morning President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Interior Department to review all national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act since 1996. An interim report will be concluded within 45 days and a final report within 120 days of the order.

The American Alpine Club is concerned by how this order will impact the future of critical climbing resources, our public lands and the Antiquities Act—the conservation tool used for more than 100 years to safeguard our country’s important archaeological, historic and scientific resources on public lands. 

Under this review will be the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument—the first national monument to recognize rock climbing as a valued activity in its proclamation. In addition to its spectacular climbing areas, Bears Ears includes more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites. “The creation of Bear Ears National Monument—with its iconic desert climbing, wild canyons and Native American artifacts—represents the best, highest value, and most sustainable use possible of these iconic and spectacular landscapes which are on par with Canyonlands, Arches and Yellowstone,” says AAC board policy member Peter Metcalf.We must be fearless in communicating unambiguously to the president about our absolute commitment to our country’s monuments, especially Bears Ears.”  

Just this week, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) released its new data: The outdoor recreation economy generates over $887 billion in consumer spending and supports 7.6 million American jobs. The U.S. Department of the Interior reports that visits to our national parks added $35 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016 alone. As OIA’s Executive Director Amy Roberts says,Monuments, many of which have become national parks, have created economic prosperity and jobs in local communities for decades. The vast majority of Americans value their national parks and monuments and want these lands protected.”

AAC Policy Director Maria Povec is currently in D.C. with the Outdoor Industry Association to educate elected leaders about the importance of public lands to the climbing community and the benefits of the outdoor recreation economy. In early May, the AAC will be back in D.C. with the Access Fund to “Climb the Hill” and advocate for places we climb, land management agencies and policies that support outdoor recreation. As Metcalf says, “We best ensure our continued privilege to climb, in part, by educating others about the integral role our public lands play in the vibrancy of our economy, our cultural history, bio-diversity, and the quality of our lives.”

Latest Educational Video: Cleaning an Anchor in Single Pitch

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Like all climbing AAC education resources, cleaning an anchor in a single pitch setting has some simple principles that will help climbers find a technical solution to most common anchor-cleaning scenarios. Our most recent Know the Ropes video reminds climbers that anchor-cleaning should ideally be a principle-based procedure because

  • The hardware on the tops of cliffs can vary wildly
  • The stances vary quite a bit
  • The tools climbers have available can vary too. 

These principles will guide viewers to appreciate how safety systems work, how to be more efficient, and how to communicate effectively when cleaning. That kind of perspective helps us analyze our decision making and solve problems in adverse/unexpected conditions.

2017 Excellence in Climbing Awards Announced

The American Alpine Club is proud to announce our Excellence in Climbing Awards celebration, presented by Adidas Outdoor. The fundraising event celebrates teamwork and will honor the 2017 Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Awardees for lasting contributions both on and off the mountain.

The 2017 inductees are:

Sean Patrick (1951 - 2009) - For being a recognized leader in the cancer treatment and research community. Sean Patrick spread awareness, compassion and inspiration to other women by founding HERA Ovarian Cancer Foundation, all while continuing to climb.

David Morton and Melissa Arnot Reid - For starting The Juniper Fund, which provides assistance to individuals, families, and communities in underserved countries adversely affected by their work for the mountain-based adventure industry.

Sean and Timmy O’Neill - For their work with Paradox Sports, a community that provides inspiration, opportunities and specialized adaptive equipment so that anyone is able to be an active participant in human-powered sports.

Doug Walker (1950 - 2015) - Former AAC President, committed conservationist, and a true climber’s climber, Doug Walker dedicated his life to the preservation of the outdoors he loved so dearly through his service on a variety of boards and generous giving.

In addition, the American Alpine Club will present the 2017 Cutting Edge Award to recipients Graham Zimmerman and Scott Bennett for their first ascent on the Southwest Ridge of K6 West, a 7,040-meter (23,097-foot) peak in the Karakoram.

Learn more in our press release

2017 Guidebook to Membership Photo Contest Kicks Off

The 2017 Guidebook to Membership hits doorsteps in less than two months and we want to feature your photos!

Not only could you see your photo next to names like Keith Ladzinski and Andrew Burr in the 2017 Guidebook, but our first place winner will also score Rab's new breathable Alpha Flux mid-layer and AAC goodies. So start thinking about your year—your sends, your flails, your campfires, your bivvies—and send those photos!

Deadline for submission is April 22, 2017. Check out the details. 

Darby Communications Selects the AAC for Stand Up Initiative

2016 Lobby Day

2016 Lobby Day

The program will provide pro bono PR services to four non-profits in the next 12 months

Asheville, NC – April 6, 2017 – Darby Communications, a boutique public relations agency specializing in the outdoor, fitness and wellness industries, is excited to announce the selections for the 2017 Stand Up Initiative. Launched in February, the program supports select environmentally-focused non-profit organizations with pro bono PR-related services. With the goal of helping to protect and preserve the environment and public lands, Darby Communications chose four organizations making significant positive impacts on the environment, they include: American Alpine Club, Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, Bee City USA and The Collider.

To kick off the program, Darby Communications will work with the American Alpine Club (AAC), a non-profit that focuses on advocacy and leadership to support the climbing community and promote conservation. Together the organizations will work towards educating the climbing community about the importance of public lands and heighten awareness around the policy work the AAC is doing to preserve our natural spaces.

“We believe that as climbers, we bear the important responsibility of protecting the places we climb and sustaining the climbing community,” says AAC Policy Director Maria Povec. “We are thrilled to have the support of Darby Communications to share our message and encourage climbers to stand up for the wild places we all enjoy.”

The second beneficiary is the Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, a non-profit committed to preserving and protecting the 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Darby Communications will proudly support their campaign to raise awareness about the monument and the importance of protecting it against threats being made to Utah’s public lands.

The final two recipients of the 2017 Stand Up Initiative, Bee City USA and The Collider, are based in Darby Communications’ hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Bee City USA endorses a set of commitments for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators which are vital to feeding the planet. Through the Initiative, they seek to share their mission to sustain pollinators by providing them with a healthy habitat. Kicking off the first quarter of 2018, Darby will assist The Collider,  an innovation center that exists to bring together diverse expertise and stimulate a new industry of climate products and services globally. The focus of the pro bono services will be to assist The Collider with awareness around ClimateCon 2018, their inaugural conference on the business of climate.

To learn more about the Stand Up Initiative, please or contact Megan Torgerson at[email protected].

About Darby Communications

A public relations firm dedicated to meeting and surpassing the needs of their clientele with customized PR and promotional programs, Darby Communications works with many of the outdoor industry’s most respected companies. The firm’s clients include Astral, Aventura, Ecōths, Feetures!, Granite Gear, Headsweats, Hyland’s, Industrial Revolution, Sierra Designs and Tailwind Nutrition. For more information, visit and on Instagram.


AAC’s Recreational Permitting Mission

Photo: Scott Thompson

Photo: Scott Thompson

The American Alpine Club recognizes how challenging it is for our members to obtain outfitter-guide permits for our National Forests. We’ve heard from climbers who are guides, belong to a regional mountain club and those who work for non-profits that teach climbing that the permitting system is overly complicated and can be a barrier to accessing our commonly-owned public lands.

The AAC is partnering with The Association of Outdoor Recreation & Education, The Wilderness Society, The American Mountain Guide Association and the U.S. Forest Service to simplify and streamline the recreational permitting process on USFS lands. 

Our goal is to assemble a cadre of climbers willing to engage with the Forest Service to improve the permitting system. We’d like you to join our team.

We will teach you about developments in the U.S. Forest Service’s permitting system—specifically the June 2016 guidance on recreational permitting— and the cultural changes underway within the agency. You will develop relationships with your regional Forest Service staff, understand how changes are being implemented and you will have the opportunity to share information with peers seeking access to our National Forests.

Sounds good right? If so, we ask you to carefully consider whether you can make the necessary commitments:

  1. Participate in a webinar training on the June 2016 guidance (April 2017).
  2. Set up a meeting with your local forest (April 2017).
  3. Meet with your local forest and write a short trip report to Maria Povec, AAC’s Policy Director (May-June 2017).
  4. Participate in a group discussion (by conference call) with our team about your experiences engaging with the forests (July-August 2017).
  5. Where appropriate, have follow up meetings with the target forest (remainder of 2017).

As former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Our national forests and grasslands have provided inspiration and peace to millions of Americans.” Let’s work together to ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy our national forests, learn how to climb outdoors and to explore the vertical frontier safely.

If you’re interested in joining the project, please sign up through our Google Form. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact project lead Maria Povec: [email protected]

A Season at the Climbers’ Ranch: Reservations Open

Photo: AAC staff member Whitney Bradberry

Photo: AAC staff member Whitney Bradberry

The Climbers’ Ranch will be open in 2017 from June 10 through September 12.

Each month of the summer is unique in the Tetons, always providing a perfect time to stay at the Climbers’ Ranch and explore Grand Teton National Park!

In early season, from opening to mid-July, the meadows surrounding the Climbers’ Ranch become daily more resplendent with a pageant of wildflowers. Temperatures are moderate, with sunny days in the 70s or low 80s, and cool evenings perfect for relaxing by the warmth of the woodstove in the Climbers’ Ranch library. The classic Teton climbing routes are in condition for every preference, from long, continuous snow climbs, to routes of mixed rock and snow, to dry rock routes along the canyon walls or in the valley at nearby sites such as Blacktail Butte. During an entire day of hiking or climbing you may encounter only a handful of people, or, in more remote areas, none at all.

The height of summer in the Tetons is from mid-July to late August. The vitality of the Climbers’ Ranch is at its peak, with guests arriving from throughout the United States and many foreign countries. Every day provides an opportunity to meet climbers and other guests who love the Tetons. The hiking trails are all nearly dry, even while Paintbrush Divide, at 10,720 feet, may still bear remnant snow. On the major peaks, snow-climbing routes gradually diminish until even the highest summits may be reached by routes free of ice or snow. Thundershowers arrive and depart quickly in quarters of the afternoon sky. Wildflowers, fading in the valley, still bloom high above the ranch.

Late August and early September are blissful, with crystalline days becoming pleasantly cooler. As the close of the ranch approaches, night-time temperatures fall toward freezing, a reminder that autumn arrives early in the mountains. Cottonwood Creek, which roared in June, murmurs in September, with long reaches of river rock exposed where rapids earlier ran. Aspen turn golden on the Taggart Lake Moraine, and in the brown meadows surrounding the ranch, bugling elk announce the end of the season.

The Climbers’ Ranch constitutes one of the most historically important communities of climbers in the United States. The American Alpine Club has sustained this community since 1970. If you have never stayed at the Climbers’ Ranch, we welcome you to join us for a wonderful experience. If you have stayed at the Climbers’ Ranch before, we will be happy to welcome you again.

The Climbers’ Ranch provides the lowest-priced cabin accommodations in Grand Teton National Park or anywhere in Jackson Hole. Our lodging rates are still $16 per night for AAC members and $25 per night for non-members. Make your reservations now on the AAC website for the 2017 season at the Climbers’ Ranch!