2019 Cutting Edge Recipients Announced

January 29, 2019, Golden, CO—The American Alpine Club (AAC) is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the 2019 Cutting Edge Grant. The Cutting Edge Grant continues the Club’s 100 year tradition of supporting climbing athletes in pursuit of world-class climbing and mountaineering objectives.

The Cutting Edge Grant seeks to fund individuals planning expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world-class pursuits. Objectives featuring a low-impact style and leave-no-trace mentality are looked upon with favor. For the 2019 grant cycle, the AAC awarded $20,000 to three recipients:

Sam Hennessey ($8,000) to attempt the North Face of Chamlang (7300m) in the Eastern Himalaya of Nepal. Rob Smith, Seth Timpano, Michael Gardner, and grant-winner Sam Hennessey will attempt the unclimbed North Face this coming Autumn, in alpine style. The north face is an impressive feature, rising nearly 2000m directly to the summit ridge. The face has received attention almost yearly for the last decade, with no teams making serious progress due to poor climbing conditions, bad weather, or both. Hennessey has climbed technical routes all over the world, from the Himalaya to Patagonia.  

Chantel Astorga ($6,000) to attempt Pumari Chhish South (7350m) in Pakistan's Hispar Karakoram. Astorga and Anne Gilbert Chase will attempt the unclimbed 2700m South Face in mixed climbing conditions and with an alpine style approach. In 2018, Astorga and Chase completed the first female ascent of Denali’s Slovak Direct (5.9X M6 W16+, 9,000’). They also completed the first ascent of the unclimbed SW face of Mount Nilkantha in India, with Jason Thompson. 

Chris Wright ($6,000) to attempt an unclimbed 7000m peak in the Eastern Karakoram Range, Pakistan. The grant will fund expedition expenses for Wright and Graham Zimmerman. They will be joined by Mark Richey and Steve Swenson in attempting the first ascent of the peak in alpine style. Wright, Zimmerman, and Swenson previously attempted the peak but were unsuccessful due to uncooperative weather. Wright describes it as, “A stunning, oft-tried, yet unclimbed granite monster in a seldom-visited valley in the heart of the Karakoram...it is undoubtedly one of the most compelling undone peaks of the greater ranges.” Wright has been climbing for 17 years, including 11 expeditions to technical routes in the greater ranges. He holds numerous first ascents in Alaska, India, Nepal, Norway, and more.

The Cutting Edge Grant is supported in part by Global Rescue, the world’s leading provider of integrated travel risk and evacuation memberships. CEG recipients are additionally awarded a one-year, full Global Rescue Membership—an upgrade to the standard AAC rescue coverage. Upgraded benefits include: $500,000 of rescue evacuation; repatriation back to the US; deployed Global Rescue Personnel; and more—a service intended to help AAC members climb hard and return home safely.

The AAC has inspired and supported cutting-edge climbing achievements for over 100 years.  Applications for the Cutting Edge Grant are accepted each year from October 1st through November 30th. 

For more information, visit: americanalpineclub.org/cutting-edge-grant

For more information on Global Rescue and their memberships, visit: globalrescue.com

About American Alpine Club

The American Alpine Club is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose vision is a united community of competent climbers and healthy climbing landscapes. Together with our members, the AAC advocates for American climbers domestically and around the world; provides grants and volunteer opportunities to protect and conserve the places we climb; hosts local and national climbing festivals and events; publishes two of the world's most sought-after climbing annuals, the American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Climbing; cares for the world's leading climbing library and country's leading mountaineering museum; manages the Hueco Rock Ranch, New River Gorge Campground, Samuel F. Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground, and Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch as part of a larger lodging network for climbers; and annually gives $100,000+ toward climbing, conservation, and research grants that fund adventurers who travel the world. Learn about additional programs and become a member at americanalpineclub.org.