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.