Safeguarding Fragile mountain & Climbing Environments

Our planet’s mountains and wild terrain provide endless opportunities for adventure, exploration and inspiration. However, our fragile mountain environments are experiencing significant impacts due to overuse and a changing climate. From the Himalayas to the Wind River Range in Wyoming, climbers experience these impacts first hand-- routes are disappearing, snow is melting, and the high alpine is losing its unique character. The changes we see in the mountains provide some of the most visible evidence of the threats that face our planet.

For more than a century, the AAC has advanced scientific exploration and conservation of the world’s greatest mountain ranges and polar regions. Today, we continue to focus on:

  • Conservation & stewardship projects

  • Scientific research on mountain environments

  • Conservation awards

  • Convening the international climbing community to discuss climber impacts and mitigation strategies.

Conservation & Stewardship

Our members are the driving force of our on-the-ground conservation projects. They maintain trails and clean up crags through our Cornerstone Conservation Grant, chapter events, Craggin’ Classics and in partnership with Local Climbing Organizations.

Powered by REI, our Cornerstone Conservation Grant supports healthy climbing landscapes, promotes respect for the places we climb, and empowers local climbing communities.

AAC Supported Projects

AAC Supported Projects

Each year, we award $25,000+ to local climbing organizations. Projects run the gambit from spray paint clean-ups on the Southeast's famous sandstone to developing the Clean Mountain Can program on Denali, AK.

Wheeler Gorge Graffiti Clean-Up. Filmed and edited by Roland Stone

Scientific Research

We support young researchers pursuing scientific endeavors in mountains and crags around the world. We fund projects that contribute vital knowledge of climbing landscapes, enrich our understanding of global climber impacts and support and improve the health and sustainability of mountain environments and habitats.

Click on the image for a visual story about AAC Research Grants

Click on the image for a visual story about AAC Research Grants

Since 2012, we have awarded more than $55,000 to researchers at universities around the country. Funding has supported projects spanning multiple disciplines including ecology, glaciology, social science, geology and climate science. Read about our previous Research Grant recipients here.

To learn more about our Research Grant Program and how to apply, check out the main page.

Alpine environments are beginning to experience the consequences of a warming climate. We sat down with four of our Researchers to get take on the topic. Check out our "Climber and Climate Change" interview series below.

AAC Supported Research Project Areas

David Brower Award

The David R. Brower Award, created in 1991, is an annual award recognizing leadership and commitment to conservation and the preservation of mountain regions worldwide. The awardee, whose active personal role deserves public recognition, has made an important difference as a pathfinder, innovator and contributor who has motivated others to take action.

Sustainable Summits Initiative

Human impacts, both direct and indirect, are having tangible negative consequences on popular mountain peaks around the world. Direct impacts include overuse, pollution and social problems. Indirect impacts are concentrated in the climate change sector, and include increased rock fall, heavily disturbed ecosystems and receding glaciers.The Sustainable Summits Initiative is a venue for the international climbing community to convene, discuss these issues and develop solutions.

The AAC hosted the 1st and 2nd Sustainable Summits Conferences in 2010 and 2014, respectively. The focus of these meetings was on energy, capacity management and human waste solutions in high-traffic expedition areas.

The 3rd Sustainable Summits Conference, hosted by the New Zealand Alpine Club, focused on the environmental impacts, social/cultural impacts and natural hazards inherent to popular mountain routes.

The 4th Sustainable Summits Conference is scheduled for 2018 and will be hosted by the French Alpine Club.

The AAC is working to preserve our alpine environments

help us guard them


Banner photo: Jordan White