American Alpine Club CEO Phil Powers to Step Down in Summer 2020

Board Search for Successor Begins in January

October 2, 2019, Golden, CO—The American Alpine Club (AAC) announced today that Phil Powers will transition out of his position as Chief Executive Officer in summer 2020. He will remain CEO while this fall, the Board begins searching for a successor. Phil will continue as a senior advisor to the organization thereafter.

Phil joined the AAC in May 2005, and has constantly driven change, growth, and engagement with climbers throughout the US and abroad. Phil’s commitment to increasing the role of climbers in land management and preservation matters as well as his personal investment in creating a sense of belonging for climbers of all disciplines and backgrounds, be it mountaineering, bouldering, or backcountry skiing, has set him apart as a vital, thoughtful and inclusive leader.

 Since 1902, the AAC has been a passionate advocate for the climbing community. The organization actively participates in dialogue about climbing stewardship, conservation policy, practices that promote inclusivity for climbers, high altitude safety and medicine, innovation in alpine tools, clothing and survival technologies, and also sponsors expeditions, and investigates controversies in the world of exploration. The AAC has become a powerful and respected voice in the outdoor industry, with publications like the State of Climbing Report and the annual Accidents in North American Climbing and American Alpine Journal to its credit. 

Deanne Buck, AAC Board Chair, said, "Phil has been instrumental to the Club’s growth over the last decade and a half. Under his leadership, the AAC’s membership has grown from 5,400 to more than 25,000, and we’re better positioned than ever to meet our members needs. The entire Board of Directors is incredibly grateful to Phil for his service to the Club."

 “These have been among the most rewarding years of my life. Imagine a world where jousting with Jim McCarthy, hiking with Tom Hornbein or climbing with Sasha DiGiulian might be on the day’s agenda. I’m thankful for the amazing group of people I’ve been able to work with. It has really been an inspiration to see results that are only possible with the investment of our now-massive group of dedicated volunteers. I’m pleased that the AAC has been able to fund deeper efforts to deliver the Club’s mission, including : grassroots education work and a far more dedicated effort in public policy—most notably through Climb the Hill, which launched in 2016. I suppose what I’ll miss most are the people. We have a great board and, well, the AAC staff are hard-working and fun as heck to be around.”

Ms. Buck added, “AAC senior staff will continue to work closely with industry partners and the climbing community to further the work Phil spearheaded during his time here. We’re particularly excited to increase our educational offerings.”

After his time at the AAC comes to an end, Powers plans to spend more time with his family and with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, a business he’s owned since 1998. He adds, “There may be some other fun stuff coming my way but, honestly, I still have a lot to do here before I can really turn my attention to what’s next.”

About Phil Powers

CEO Phil Powers is a lifelong climber who has made over 30 expeditions to Alaska, South America and the Karakoram Range. He made the first ascent of the 8,000-foot Washburn Face on Denali, the first ascent of Lukpilla Brakk's Western Edge in Pakistan (VI, 5.11, A3) and the first winter traverse of the Tetons' Cathedral Peaks in 1992. He has also climbed two 8,000-meter peaks—K2 and Gasherbrum II—without the aid of supplemental oxygen. Phil has served on both the Access Fund and AMGA boards. He is the recipient of the American Mountain Foundation’s VIIth Grade Award for climbing achievement; the AAC Mountaineering Fellowship Grant; the Mugs Stump Climbing Grant; the NOLS Instructor Award (twice) and the Wilderness Education Association’s Paul Petzoldt Award for Excellence in Outdoor Education (2007). He received the American Alpine Clubs highest award for service, the Heilprin Award, in 2012. Phil has written two books on climbing: Wilderness Mountaineering and Expedition Planning. He has been a tireless advocate for climbers throughout his career and continues to be an active climber and skier.

About the 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 gives $100,000+ annually toward climbing, conservation, and research grants that fund adventurers who travel the world. Learn about additional programs and become a member at