Our CEO Phil Powers summited K2 without oxygen and has a first ascent on Denali, but it was a simple climb on his lunch break that left him with the biggest challenge of his life following a miscommunication and a 70-foot fall. Watch the film below.
The REEL ROCK Film Tour, one of climbing's greatest celebrations, returns this fall with a new collection of world premiere films. In The High Road, the powerful and bold Nina Williams tests herself on some of the highest, most difficult boulder problems ever climbed. In United States of Joe’s, climbers collide with a conservative coal mining community in rural Utah, to surprising results. And in The Nose Speed Record, legends Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold battle Yosemite dirtbags Jim Reynolds and Brad Gobright in a high stakes race for greatness.
REEL ROCK 13 will be touring the country this fall & winter—you don't want to miss it.
Our 2019 Guidebook to Membership is here! The Guidebook serves as a storyboard and yearbook as well as a literal guidebook to Club member benefits. The majority of each issue is dedicated to member photos and stories, working to define (and redefine) the ever-changing faces of American climbing and the Club that serves to unite them. From mountain art to community issues to conservation and advocacy stories, the Guidebook covers many important topics from a unique member-perspective. So, flip on through and get inspired. You might even find a new discount that you didn't even know you had.
Some stories we’re particularly excited about this year include:
Art for the In-Betweens: Artist Spotlight, by Brooklyn Bell
Navajo Rising: An Indigenous Emergence Story, by Aaron Mike
Glacial Views: A Climate Scientist Reflects, by Seth Campbell
1Climb, Infinite Potential: Kevin Jorgeson Breaks Down Walls by Building them
On Pushing: A Grief Story, by Madaleine Sorkin
An Ode to Mobility: the Range of Motion Project Tackles Cotopaxi, by Lauren Panasewicz
…and there’s so much more, including tear-out-and-send policy postcards by Jill Pelto.
The Access Fund and American Alpine Club are pleased to announce the 2019 Anchor Replacement Fund grant award recipients. This grant program addresses the growing concerns of anchor failure and the access issues that could result from these incidents. This year, we are thrilled to announce funding for ten worthy anchor replacement projects across the country.
Wasatch and Uinta Mountains, UT - Salt Lake Climbers Alliance
Red River Gorge, KY - Red River Gorge Fixed Gear Initiative
Rumney, NH - Rumney Climbers Association
Sauratown Mountain and Cooks Wall, NC - Caroline Climbers Coalition
Obed, TN - East Tennessee Climbers’ Coalition
New River Gorge, WV - New River Alliance of Climbers
Boulder Canyon and Shelf Road, CO - Boulder Climbing Community
Wet Mountains, CO - Southern Colorado Climber’s Resource and Action Group
Tahoe Basin, CA - Tahoe Climbers Coalition
Queen Creek Canyon, AZ - Central Arizona Bolt Replacement Program
Read more about the projects in the full press release.
A LETTER FROM AAC CEO PHIL POWERS
Dear AAC members, climbers and friends;
This month, I informed our Board of Directors that I will be moving on from my role as the American Alpine Club’s CEO. These years have been some of the most rewarding of my life, and coming to this conclusion was not easy. After fourteen years at the helm of this wonderful organization, this feels like the right time. The Club is in a strong position, ready for a smooth transition, and poised to fuel the next phase of American climbing. My transition will take place over the course of the next year. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the next steps—not only what I’ll do next, but what’s best for the AAC.
Climbing continues to be the driving force in my life. Sharing this lifestyle—the contact with the natural world it provides, the attention to health it demands, and the partnerships it cultivates—with others has been my central effort during my time at the AAC.
The Club has made huge strides in the last decade and a half, and I’m incredibly proud of our accomplishments. Together, we grew our portfolio of lodging facilities from one to five, reached a membership of 25,000, and vastly increased our reach in areas like public policy and education. These milestones were only possible because of thousands of people’s work. I have had the privilege to lead an organization of members, donors, volunteers and staff who share time, resources, goals, and ropes together. Today’s AAC is anchored by a united community of climbers who yearn to offer their knowledge and stand by their values—values like supporting public lands, access to wild and vertical places, and sharing our care for one another through mentorship, education and rescue benefits.
I will leave this role feeling more anticipation than satisfaction. In many respects, we have only begun to see the ways in which climbing benefits individual lives and, more broadly, is a force for good. I think of these years as foundational to an even greater future, and I look forward to watching that unfold—and contributing where I can.
My experience here has been a special one. I’ve been able to spend time, often at the crag or in the mountains, with some of the early greats in American climbing. I’ve been able to get to know (and even climb with on their “rest days”) contemporary climbers who continue to advance our craft. Many of them have gone on to become extraordinary ambassadors for the landscapes and ecosystems we depend on.
The AAC board has begun its search for my replacement, but this is not my goodbye. I am committed to supporting that effort in every way that makes sense over the coming year. As I move on from the AAC, I look forward to spending more time with my family and with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, which I have owned with my partners for the last twenty years. I will also be spending more time with the wild places we have worked so hard to protect.
And, of course, I’ll still be climbing, so look for me at your crag. There are many I still want to visit.
We are excited to announce the October 1st opening of four of our climbing grants: the Cutting Edge Grant, the Mountaineering Fellowship Fund Grant, the McNeill Nott Award, and the Jones Backcountry Adventure Grants. These grants are detailed below and applications for all close on November 30.
The Cutting Edge Grant
This grant funds experienced climbers and mountaineers planning expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world-class pursuits.
In 2019, our Cutting Edge Grant winner Chris Wright and his team accomplished the first ascent of Link Sar in Pakistan. Hear all about their expedition in the recent Cutting Edge Podcast interview.
The Mountaineering Fellowship Fund Grant
This opportunity funds American climbers age 25 years and younger to go into remote areas and seek out climbs more difficult than they might ordinarily be able to do. Unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, and difficult new routes are looked upon with favor, as is an emphasis on “fFellowship” and growth as a team.
In 2019, a group of women mountaineers ventured into the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, with a goal of putting first ascents up a number of unnamed peaks. They accomplished their goals, and learned to grow as a team in the process. Learn more about their expedition in this write-up from Alaska Public Media.
The McNeill-Nott Award
Following the untimely death of Sue Nott and her partner Karen McNeill on Mt. Foraker in 2006, The AAC partnered with Mountain Hardwear to establish the McNeill-Nott Award in Karen and Sue’s memory. The award seeks to preserve the spirit of these two talented and courageous climbers by giving grants to amateur climbers exploring new routes or unclimbed peaks with small and lightweight teams. The Award focuses on projects that have strong exploratory and adventuresome mountaineering objectives.
2018 McNeill-Nott winners Tess Ferguson and Catherine Tao traveled to The Nyainbo Yuze (年保玉則) range in western China. Tao shared this reflection on her return to the US: “It was chock full of new learning experiences—physically, culturally, and emotionally. Between the challenge of finding ways to quell the anxiety of waiting out bad weather days to the utter elation of standing on top of my first international first ascent, there is much I am looking forward to in future expeditions.”
Jones Backcountry Adventure Grants
The Jones Backcountry Adventure Grant looks to supports a multi-day splitboarding expedition with a strong exploratory and adventure component. The project objective may focus on a single descent/summit or a tour/traverse of a region. The Jones Live Like Liz Award has the same criteria as the Jones Backcountry Adventure Grant but is open only to female applicants. In September 2014, Jones ambassador and mountain guide Liz Daley was killed in an avalanche accident in Argentina. This award is dedicated to Liz and the radiant passion for splitboard exploration that she was known for.
Jamie Vincent of Salt Lake City, UT was awarded the 2018 Live Like Liz Award to explore Glacier National Park by bicycle and splitboard. A substitute teacher as well as coach the Westminster Snowboard Team, Jamie pedaled up the Going-To-The-Sun road before the road was open to cars. At the bicycle road closure she strapped into her splitboard to travel higher into the mountains and explore the national park for her first time.
In 2019, American Alpine Club grant winners continued to dream big, push boundaries, embrace new experiences, and explore the literal height of what’s possible in the mountains. From glacier basecamps to backyard tours, Chamonix to the Karakoram to Mt. Baker, AAC grant winners represented the Club on expeditions large and small in pursuit of that indescribable freedom that comes from doing what you love in beautiful places.
Applications for this year’s adventures are now open and will remain open until November 30. Email [email protected] with any questions. We can’t wait to see where your next adventures will take you!
The 4th annual Climb the Hill with Access Fund is all wrapped up, and it was our most impactful effort to date!
Climb the Hill represents the interests of the climbing community among national policy-makers. Professional climbers, outdoor industry representatives, and recreation advocates accompany us on Capitol Hill, where we meet with federal lawmakers to discuss issues affecting the climbing and greater outdoor recreation community.
This year, we:
Brought 60+ athletes, outdoor brands, non-profit partners, and community advocates together on Capitol Hill in D.C.,
attended a hearing on streamlining permitting for outfitters and guides via the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act and the Recreation Not Red Tape (RNR) Act,
and offered a Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (JEDI) training for team members, crafted by the Climb the Hill JEDI Taskforce.
We advocated for climate forward solutions.
We spoke up for public lands protections.
We rallied for recreation access and enhancement.
We demanded appropriate funding for land management agencies.
We outlined Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (JEDI) principles in our lobby efforts with the support of our JEDI Taskforce..
The American Alpine Club (AAC) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 Cornerstone Conservation Grants, powered by REI. Our Cornerstone Grants support our vision of healthy climbing landscapes with annual awards to organizations, landowners, and individuals to fund projects such as human waste solutions, climbing trail restoration, and related infrastructure projects. This year, the committee reviewed a large number of well-qualified applications. They were heartened by the breadth of conservation projects planned across the country, and we continue to encourage local climbers to give back in a meaningful way, on a local level.
A big thanks to our corporate partners and to our Cornerstone Conservation Grant Committee members (listed below). Congratulations to our 2019 Cornerstone recipients:
Rumney Climbers Association
Rumney Rocks, Rumney, New Hampshire
By stepping up to address the environmental stewardship needs identified by the US Forest Service, the Rumney Climbers Association is helping to ensure that the climbing resources at Rumney remain open and accessible to current and future visitors. If conditions were to continue to degrade and the USFS was unable to adequately address these issues, there is a very real possibility that some sites could be closed or access severely restricted to mitigate climber impacts. The proposed work will ensure that the natural environment remains intact, allowing future visitors to experience Rumney as the beautiful outdoor climbing destination that it is renowned for.
Methow Valley Climbers (Methow Chapter of the Washington Climbers Coalition)
Upper Methow Valley, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington
Methow Valley Climbers will use the funds to improve the infrastructure at the local, very popular, Fun Rock climbing area. Recreational rock climbing use of the cliffs and trails at Fun Rock began in the 1980's and has increased exponentially over the years. The area sees high use from March through the fall and has seen degradation of the user built platforms and trails, leading to reduced safety and poor flow of traffic. Local climbers have, over the years, built and maintained the landing areas, using whatever material was easily obtained, but have not been able to keep up with the huge numbers the area now sees. The greatest concerns are safety for the users and environmental damage to the fragile, unconsolidated soil and struggling plants.
Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition
Bald Rock Recreational Preserve, Red River Gorge, Kentucky
The RRGCC has new crag development underway at a location five minutes from one of our parking lots. We predict this to be a high traffic area, as it is full of moderates and development continues. We aim to build sustainable staging areas and trails more quickly to prevent unnecessary damage to the ecology of the area. The Cornerstone Grant will greatly help the RRGCC achieve sustainable development and mitigate heavy impact in what is sure to be a popular area.
New River Alliance of Climbers
New River Gorge and Fayette County, West Virginia
The proposed project will remediate the extensive damage at the Bridge Buttress area caused by many years of heavy use by climbers. The plan is to crib staging areas with timber and rock to create a series of connected flats that will slow runoff and put a stop to the continuous erosion and loss of vegetation. Grade improvements will connect the approach staircase to the stone staircase leading to the top of the crag and to the Layback area, climber's right of the main buttress. This project will also create initial recreational infrastructure in the newly purchased and established Needleseye Park, a municipal climbing resource in the City of Oak Hill, WV.
Northwest Montana Climbers’ Coalition
Stone Hill, Kootenai National Forest, Montana
Stone Hill is home to more than 500 climbing routes, many of which were developed without adequate trail establishment. The Stone Hill Trail Network Project will bring together land managers, climbers and volunteers to establish well-built trails and signage, significantly improving access to these beloved routes and making them easier to approach. Trail planning will be directed by the USDA Forest Service, and trail building will be done by groups of volunteers over a series of organized trail days in the next two seasons. Trail days will be an opportunity for the community to network and learn about sustainability and climbing area stewardship. The quality trails the community builds will improve sustainability by mitigating trampling and erosion on the steep slopes around the area, and encourage climbers to spread out and explore the classic, lesser known crags of Stone Hill.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Forbes State Forest, Pennsylvania
Forbes State Forest boasts numerous recreational opportunities for visitors, among these climbing is a popular activity. Both Beam Rocks and Cove Rocks are heavily trafficked areas for climbers, hikers, and other recreational pursuits throughout the state forest. Due to the popularity of these areas, they are an unfortunate target for vandalism, including graffiti. For the past four years, Forbes State Forest has partnered with volunteers (Southwestern PA Climbers Coalition, Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation) to regularly remove graffiti from these locations. The funds from this grant will equip volunteers with the tools and materials to remove graffiti on a bi-yearly basis.
Carolina Climbers Coalition
Table Rock State Park, Pickens, South Carolina
The Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) will use funds to build approximately 1.9 miles of trail leading to a never been open cliff called Pumpkintown. Currently an old logging road exists going up the escarpment for about 1 mile. This logging road does not reach the cliff base, which is the remaining 0.9 miles. The CCC will undergo phase 1 of trail construction, which is clearing the corridor for machine cutting and bench cutting by hand necessary spots. Opening of this new cliff is contingent upon an approach trail being built.
AAC Cornerstone Conservation Grant Selection Committee:
Rob Abramowitz, Audrey Todd Borisov, Elisabeth Bowers, Eddie Espinosa, Emily Hendrick, Matt Hepp, Ryan Kuehn, Jay Parks, Joe Sambataro, Jenna Winkler
Photo courtesy of Methow Valley Climbers (Methow Chapter of the Washington Climbers Coalition)
The American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund are heading to Washington, DC for our fourth annual Climb the Hill event September 18-21. We’ll be bringing professional climbers, outdoor industry leaders, and advocacy partners to Capitol Hill to advocate for the lands and climate that are vital to climbing and outdoor recreation.
This year AAC and Access Fund will represent climbers by pursuing legislative and administrative action on recreation access and enhancement, energy development and leasing reform, funding for public land management agencies, recreation and conservation land designations, and climate change action. Read the full press release.
Here’s how you can get involved:
Join us for the Senate Reception in DC.
Follow along while we’re on the Hill.
Show your support for our climate work with this Facebook frame.
These special three-day festivals celebrate all things climbing. Join your local climbing community, share stories around the campfire, learn new skills, and give back to your local crag.
The Craggin’ Classic Series, powered by CAMP Technical Adventure Equipment and supported nationally by Adidas Terrex, Arc'Teryx, Sterling Rope, Black Diamond, and Rock & Ice, is the country's only nationally-touring, grassroots climbing festival.
Whether you’re new to climbing or you’ve been roping up for years, there’s something for everyone at these events. Registration is now open for Smith Rock, the New River Gorge, Rumney, and Devil’s Lake—see the full schedule and don’t hesitate to sign up.
USA Ice Climbing Competition Team Selection
As the US Member Federation to the UIAA, the American Alpine Club is proud to once again open applications to all athletes seeking to join the 2020 USA World Cup Ice Climbing Team.
Athlete participation in the World Cup and World Championship events will be determined by the AAC and the US team manager in the Fall of 2019. Up to 25 adults and 20 youth will be selected for the US team, and athletes will receive a status notification by September 15, 2019. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. MT, August 31, 2019.
Note: This year, both youth and adults will apply using the same application.
Must have or be able to obtain a US passport before Dec 2019.
Since we are working to develop a team, priority will be given to athletes who are competing in more than one World Cup event, and who plan to compete in future years.
Athletes must turn 16 or older before the date of chosen world cup event(s) to participate.
We encourage people who are experienced competitors in any form of climbing to apply.
Athletes interested in being part of the US team and competing in any of the Ice Climbing World Cup & World Championship events must complete the application by 11:59 p.m. MT, August 31, 2019.
Team Benefits & Expectations
Athletes will receive a team uniform that they will be required to wear during any international competitions between July 2019 and June 2020.
Athletes will be expected to make their own travel arrangements once notified.
Athletes (and parents when the athlete is a minor) will be required to sign and abide by a code of conduct set by the AAC and the team manager. Athletes who violate the code of conduct will be warned and may be removed from the team at the discretion of the AAC and the team manager.
The AAC and the team manager will work to provide monetary and product support through fundraising and grants. Athletes will be expected to support these initiatives as well.
Athletes are expected to behave as part of a team, giving and receiving support to and from their team members.
Athletes will act as American Alpine Club and US ambassadors to the domestic and international climbing communities and are expected to obey the rules and regulations of the host country in which they are climbing.
Competition Selection Policies
Selection to the USA Ice Climbing team does not guarantee a spot at any competition.
In the event that participants are only competing in either Speed or Difficulty (and not both) the AAC will select enough athletes to be able to field a team consisting of 8 men and 8 women for the Speed portion and 8 men and 8 women for the Difficulty portion.
If there are not enough available team members to fill the quota at a competition, non-team athletes may apply to compete and will be selected by the AAC and the team manager.
The USA can send up to 8 men and 8 women in each of Difficulty (Lead) and Speed to each World Cup event.
There are three age categories for youth competitors. U16, U19, and U21. Age guidelines will be released by the UIAA.
Need a little more inspiration? Meet last year’s athletes!
We’re thrilled to congratulate the winners of our 2019 Live Your Dream Grant!
The Live Your Dream grant, powered by The North Face, is designed to help every-day adventurers take their abilities to the next level. It is about personal progression. It is about supporting each other; getting out there to push our individual limits; taking our skills to the next proving grounds, wherever that may be. The purpose of this grant is to support and promote unforgettable experiences for climbers—to dream big, to grow, and to inspire others.
We received a record number of applicants, making this year’s pool of Live Your Dream applications one of the most competitive yet, and we’ve made some hard choices to award a total of $55,700 to 122 recipients. This year’s winners include climbers looking to complete their first trad leads, climbers chasing cutting-edge first ascents, and everyone in between.
Since 2011, the AAC has awarded nearly $205,000 to local climbing organizations (LCOs), land managers, nonprofits, and individuals for conservation projects through our Cornerstone Conservation Grant. Projects include building or improving trail networks to climbing areas; establishing new toilet facilities and signage at trailheads; and deploying a variety of community groups for clean-up and graffiti removal at local crags. Applications now open for the 2019 Cornerstone Conservation Grant
WE HEARD YOU! Climbers care deeply about the issue of climate change and are concerned about its impact on our climbing landscapes, communities and outdoor recreation economy. It is time that we address this direct threat to the climbing community and engage in coordinated action to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Learn more about the AAC’s stance. Add your voice to the fight!
Coming to Outdoor Retailer? Or just live in the Front Range and want to join the fun?
During the Snow Show, we’ll be in the “High Altitude Den”, booth 32083-UL. Come by for AAC goodies, to have your burning questions about the Club answered by staff, or just to say hi!
Our education team will be delivering Know the Ropes workshops and facilitating Universal Belay Card certifications. This year we are also thrilled to have artist Lynn Mandzuik create a LIVE painting over the course of the first two days of OR. The resulting piece will be raffled off during the “Afternoon Buzz” on Wednesday, June 19 at 3pm.
Battle of the Bands
Tuesday June 18, Your Mom’s House, 8pm:
This legendary event is back! Join us for a night of live music featuring bands from the Outdoor Industry—including Black Diamond, Cascade Designs, La Sportiva and more. Tickets are $5 in advance, available online or at our booth, or $10 at the door.
POW & AAC Party at the newly opened SPOT Bouldering Gym in Denver
Wednesday, June 19
5:00pm - 10pm
1235 Delaware Street
Denver CO 80204
$10 cover includes day pass to climb, beer and access to food trucks. This event with highlight the work that AAC and POW are going together to fight climate change. Tickets at the door. All proceeds benefit AAC and POW.
Calling all photographers!
We're teaming up with Rab to feature your work in our annual Guidebook to Membership’s Membership Through the Lens section. Not only could you see your photo next to names like Keith Ladzinski and Krystle Wright in the 2019 Guidebook, but the lucky winner will receive a Rab Kinetic Alpine jacket!
Please submit only photos you've taken, not photos taken of you. You may submit up to 3 photos through the form linked below. Deadline is May 15. The following week, we’ll share a Facebook album with our 10-15 favorite photo choices and allow our audience to weigh in on the winning photo by liking and commenting. The winner will be announced on May 24th.
We can't wait to see your shots!
Calling all climbers and outdoor enthusiasts: give us your beta?! We want to know who you are, what you stand for, and how the Club can better support you, as a climber. Take this short annual survey for a chance to win a $250 gift card to REI. Thank you!
We’re stoked to celebrate our 2019 Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Inductees! These are folks who have had a significant impact on climbing history through contributions in mountain culture, environmental responsibility, and community.
Our first inductee is climber, conservationist and author Laura Waterman, who founded The Waterman Fund grants program to support trail work, stewardship, education, and research. She’s pictured above with her late husband, Guy, in 1970. Photo: Waterman Collection.
Our next inductee is Ken Yager, a climbing guide and founder of the Yosemite Climbing Association. In 2004, he started Facelift, a non-profit responsible for removing over 1 million pounds of garbage from the park. The event continues to be the largest volunteer cleanup in park history. Photo, above, by Michael Brown.
Finally, we’re honored to present the H. Adams Carter Literary Award to Kelly Cordes. Kelly has made it his mission to maximize outdoor time. This focus strongly influences his climbing, which includes new alpine-style routes in Alaska, Peru, Patagonia and Pakistan. He’s also been known to put pen to paper, writing many climbing articles, serving as longtime editor of the AAJ, and authoring the book, “The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre.” Photo, below, by Kevin Cooper.
Kick off the start of the climbing season! June 1, the community will gather in the home of the American Alpine Club for a festival celebrating all things climbing. Complete with carnival games, tours of the American Mountaineering Museum, an Open Air Vendor Village, food trucks and local beverages — the Excellence in Climbing Celebration has something for everyone! The highlight is inducting inspirational climbing heroes into the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence (H.o.M.E.). The 2019 honorees will be announced soon!