CEO Phil Powers is a lifelong climber who has made over 25 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 Mug’s Stump Climbing Grant; 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 continues to be an active climber and skier.
Nat Matthews serves the AAC and its members as the CFO and Director of Operations. He was born and raised in the tropics (Marianas and S.E. Asia) and has a broad background in finance and operations in industries ranging from financial services and insurance program management to aerospace and renewable energy. Despite his tropical upbringing, Nat took to the mountains when he moved to Colorado at the age of 15. He has been snowboarding since the mid-80's, fly fishes throughout the year, finds respite in the mountains when he can, and is grateful to the AAC for reintroducing him to climbing. Nat and his family couldn't be happier being in Golden near the mountains, rivers and towns they love. He is a graduate of Michigan State University (M.B.A.) and the University of Colorado, Boulder (Environmental Studies), and he attended Fountain Valley School of Colorado.
Maria Gonzales serves the AAC as the Director of Development, overseeing fundraising efforts and donor focused initiatives. While originally from Santa Fe, NM she relocated to the Rocky Mountains from Washington, D.C. after living there for almost a decade. Maria began to realize her passion for development when she entered the non-profit arena in 2009. Prior to joining the AAC in 2018 she led development efforts and social enterprise initiatives at Catholic Charities USA. Most recently Maria worked hand in hand with fortune 100 multinational corporations as well as individual donors at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Maria completed her undergrad and graduate work at Arizona State University where she received an M.A. in Political Science, a B.A. in Political Science, and a B.A. in Journalism. She is proud to call herself a diehard Sun Devil. Maria obtained a Certificate in Non Profit Management from Georgetown University in 2015. A lover of the outdoors, Maria is delighted to be a member of the AAC team and looks forward to growing her climbing skills. In her free time she can be found adventuring with her husband and two rescue dogs, Apollo and Olivia.
In 2012 a position at the Club was created for her to shape stories and mobilize community; she now manages the marketing department. Whitney oversees all national communications and marketing. She led production of the AAC’s State of Climbing report to aggregate and analyze data that reflects the opportunities and challenges in today’s American climbing industry and culture. She works closely with the AAC’s development team on fundraising appeals and membership to develop the direction for annual member drive campaigns. Whitney is originally from Florida, but feels most at home in the mountains. In her free time she enjoys trail running, skiing, and climbing.
Shane grew up in Columbus, Ohio and was exposed to climbing at an early age through trips to the local climbing gym and a mentor that taught him to climb in the Red River Gorge and New River Gorge. During high school, a summer long trip to Colorado cemented his love for the outdoors and solidified his goal to move "out West." After graduation from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Marketing Management, he moved to Golden, Colorado to pursue his passion for climbing and the outdoors. Since moving to Golden he has developed a penchant for long, demanding days in the mountains. Before joining the AAC, he worked as a manager at Bent Gate Mountaineering and the marketing coordinator at Rab. If he's not out climbing during his free time, he's focused on spending time with his wife, two sons and two dogs.
Jeff Deikis - Creative Director
Jeff Deikis, based out of Bishop, California, serves as the Club's Creative Director, overseeing content development, graphic design and brand management. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan but introduced to the outdoors before he could walk, Jeff is an avid climber and backcountry snowboarder with some 30+ years of mountain experience. He has been working within the Outdoor Industry for over 14 years, in various marketing and program development roles. Additionally, Jeff is an internationally recognized award winning photographer and an avid world traveler. He can usually be found milling around the Eastern Sierra, his trusty pooch Obi in tow.
Dougald MacDonald has been a full-time climbing journalist since the mid-1990s. In addition to writing a book about Longs Peak and countless print and online articles, he has worked as Editor and Publisher of Rock & Ice magazine, Editorial Director for Climbing and Urban Climber, and now Executive Editor of the AAC. In this position, he is responsible for the American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Climbing, as well as the club's publications website. Dougald has been climbing for more than 35 years and still enjoys just about every aspect of the sport, from bouldering to long alpine routes. He especially loves putting up new routes in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming.
Katie Sauter - Library Director
Katie joined the AAC in 2013. She has a B.A. from CU-Boulder and an MLIS from McGill University. She enjoys history, mountains, Colorado, old books, and nearly everything found in the AAC Library collections. Her favorite collections include that of J. Monroe Thorington and the Central Asia Library. Here are some recommended books.
Eddie was previously the AAC's Regional Manager in the Northwest/West Coast, and has a strong background in the outdoor industry both in the non-profit world and retail sector. As a former guide/instructor, brand manager, and outdoor program director, he has experience in many aspects of the outdoor industry.
He cut his teeth climbing in the North Cascades while at Pacific Lutheran University, and has subsequently climbed throughout the world. Eddie is based out of Seattle, Washington and has loved climbing everything including sunny boulders, tall mountains, and frozen waterfalls. Much of his time now is spent adventuring with his two sons Evan and Anderson.
CJ grew up climbing silos in northern Wisconsin, and her wanderlust compelled her to explore the Rocky Mountains landing her in Boulder, CO since 2012. With over 13 years of development and fundraising experience, CJ joins the AAC as Major Gifts Officer. CJ has previously worked and volunteered with nonprofits that focus on empowering young women in the outdoors and the preservation and exhibition of regional art. Most recently CJ worked with the University of Colorado Boulder establishing and stewarding mutually beneficial partnerships. She is thrilled to engage fellow climbers and outdoor enthusiasts philanthropically. CJ continues to explore her outdoor passions by skinning up 14ers, plunging down single-track, and of course exploring local crags.
Ron Funderburke joins the club as a career climbing instructor, guide, and educator. He is an AMGA certified Rock Guide and the Discipline Coordinator of the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program. Also, Ron has co-written a handful of books on climbing and climbing instruction, including: Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual, Climbing: Gym to Rock, Climbing: Protection, Climbing: Knots, Climbing: Toproping to Sport, Climbing: Sport to Trad. As the Education Manager, Ron serves as an educational resource for the entire club, a special projects and initiatives manager for educational outreach, and promotes the club's core values to provide authoritative climbing information and knowledge. When Ron is not teaching climbing or promoting the club, he can be found teaching his sons, Burke and James, to monkey around on crags and boulders. He and his wife Mary live in Golden, Colorado.
Azissa joins the Club from the foothills of South Carolina. At the University of South Carolina she began exploring all the outdoors had to offer and truly became hooked on climbing. After graduating with a degree in Health Communications and Neuroscience, Azissa chose to pursue climbing instruction and guiding in western North Carolina in 2014. While the Blue Ridge will always be home, Azissa eventually came West to explore bigger terrain. Over the following years, she pursued a career in commercial guiding and climbing instruction. During this time she became an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor and Apprentice Rock Guide- an education that she hopes to continue growing. Moving from Colorado to Utah and back while exploring everything in between, Azissa decided to settle in Boulder for a while in 2017 and explore the vast amount of climbing and skiing it has to offer. She is beyond excited to join the Club’s Education department coordinating the Mountain Qualification Leader program
Taylor joins the AAC as the Policy Manager and works with the policy team to advance access on public lands, conserve healthy mountain environments and ensure the protection of treasured lands for human powered recreation. A native Vermonter, Taylor grew up skiing, climbing, and biking in the mountains of New England.
Taylor holds a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and a Masters of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Specializing in land use law and forest management, Taylor advocates for the ability of outdoor recreation to support land conservation goals, revitalize rural economies and inspire future land stewards. Taylor also holds a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies from Saint Michael's College.
Taylor is an avid splitboarder, ice and rock climber and an AMGA apprentice rock guide. He enjoys spending time in the mountains with his fiancé, Nadine, who shares his passion for environmental conservation and love of the alpine.
Emma grew up on the coast of Maine and came West to Colorado College, where she studied creative writing and teaching. She's passionate about connecting recreation, education and conservation and is always excited to talk about how art and the environment intersect. Her favorite climbing area is Indian Creek, closely followed by Otter Cliffs (Acadia) and the Teton Range. Emma left Colorado to work as an environmental educator and guide in Jackson Hole for a few seasons, but is excited to be settling back into the Front Range and helping AAC members share their stories. Her other interests include watercolors, sailing, ski mountaineering, competitive games of Bananagrams, and her puppy Hatcher.
Heidi McDowell - Special Events Manager
Heidi hails from sunny California where she was a climbing, rafting, and backpacking guide at U.C. Davis. From there she expanded her climbing repertoire in the great PNW, learning actual footwork on slippery basalt and clipping runout bolts at Smith Rock. From 2012 to 2015, she was the AAC Oregon Section Chair, while simultaneously working at the Mountain Shop, the oldest mountaineering gear store in the country. For the past few years she's crafted events for the AAC as the Club's Senior Events Manager. In her down time she can be found clipping bolts, shredding powder, mountain biking, or hiking in the mountains with her pooch and AAC office dog, Gradie.
Caroline Bridges - Grants Manager & Executive Coordinator
Caroline grew up in the flatlands of the midwest but spent most summers scrambling on the glaciated granite of Northern Ontario. After receiving her degree in Journalism from Boston University, she answered the call of the mountains and moved to Colorado where she has worked in corporate social responsibility and community engagement. Caroline spends as much time as possible outside, backpacking, trail running, skiing, mountain biking and embracing general mountain shenanigans. She looks forward to growing her climbing skills and is excited to work with and celebrate Club members living their dreams in the mountains.
Carol Kotchek moved here in 2002 from Sun Valley, Idaho and obtained a degree in accounting in 2007 from Regis University. She started climbing at the City of Rocks, Idaho in the era of painter pants, rugby shirts, and clanging hexes. Having climbed through the leopard skin lycra phase she's now back to placing trad gear with an occasional foray into sport climbing. Her 15 minutes of fame was being the cover girl on the City of Rocks guide book for many years. Carol began working at the AAC in 2010. She is inspired by all great changes that have occurred in the past few years, new lodging facilities, new grants, more events, and an expanded benefits package for AAC members. She feels that working at the Alpine Club is a great opportunity to participate in the preservation of this great sport and hopes that efforts put in now will elevate the climbing experience for future generations.
Jeff joined the amazing IT team at the AAC in 2019 as a software engineer, following years of climbing and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. After cutting his teeth in the New England bouldering scene, Jeff took the drive out to the big mountains and moved to Colorado in 2010. Once earning a degree in Geology at University of Northern Colorado, he tried to leave sunny Colorado, but like pulling apart a magnet, was continually drawn back. Jeff likes to spend his time jumping to small crimps, getting beat down by approaches, eating hot dogs, earning his turns, and trying not to fall off his bike.
Amanda joined the membership team at the AAC in 2018. She grew up on the Front Range of Colorado, where she fell in love with the wilderness through backpacking, hiking and getting outside as much as possible. After a few years in Minnesota during high school, she ran back to the mountains to get a BFA at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. It was not until after college that she discovered climbing, but it quickly became a passion. She thrives on the constant challenges, motivations, and strong relationships that come from the sport. Along with climbing, she balances her free time between making art and getting outside to trail run, snowboard and backpack. She loves working in a place where she can serve other climbers and constantly share outdoor adventures with her coworkers.
Eric Rueth - Library Assistant
Growing up Eric spent much of his time in the forests and waterways of central Wisconsin. But, it wasn't until hiking up Longs Peak's Keyhole route while visiting Colorado that he fell in love with the outdoors. From that point on he knew he wanted to spend as much time in the outdoors, specifically mountains, as he could; so he packed his bags and left America's Dairyland for the thin air and mild winters of Colorado. Eric is excited to be able to mix his passions, mountains and books, as a library assistant at the American Alpine Club Library.
Michelle Hoffman - Front End Developer
Michelle is one of the many East Coast transplants to Colorado. Living in “upstate" New York, she began her outdoor climbing career in the 'Gunks. The next few years, she began to expand her horizons to different styles of alpinism. Her sophomore year of college, she joined a 2-month expedition in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru. There, she summited seven 5000m mountains and attempted two more, including the magnificent Alpamayo. A week after she got back to the States, she packed up again. This time, it was to move out to Colorado, where she became an Online Media Intern with the American Alpine Club. Loving the office environment, she held a few different part-time positions at the Club until coming on as the Front End Developer.
David grew up as a beach boy in Florida and had the desire to find some more mountainous terrain after his first trip on the Appalachian Trail. After graduating with a focus in Photojournalism and Education from the University of Florida, David found recluse and meaningful work teaching kids in the Front Range of Colorado, the Big Sur coastline of California, and back to Eldorado Canyon working alongside outdoor non-profits. He's worked for years as an outdoor educator, passionate organizational leader, and a communications specialist with a focus in the Outdoor Industry and digital storytelling. As a Ropes Course Manager and wilderness guide, David still sidelines to train teams and business professionals in the outdoors through leadership development programs.
As a professional photographer and journalist, David has published numerous articles and photo essays for major brands, national newspapers and travel publications for more than 15 years. David now enjoys life roaming dirt trails on his mountain bike, climbing with friends and his crag dog Huckleberry, and experimenting with food and ferments with his partner, Sara, at their home in Golden.
Dillon grew up in rural Montana on the outskirts of Bozeman where a large, outdoorsy family introduced him to camping, fishing and backpacking. In high school, one of his older brothers introduced him to climbing, and he has never stopped exploring the sport. After obtaining his Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, Dillon moved without hesitation to Denver to pursue his career in software and dive deeper into the realm of climbing. He also works locally as a part-time climbing instructor at Earth Treks Climbing Centers in Golden. On select days after work and when the weekends roll around, Dillon is most likely climbing in a local canyon, whether it be sport, ice or trad, or he is out on another adventure often with his girlfriend and adventurer in crime, Alex.
Vanessa is originally from Florida and acquired a passion for wildlife research and conservation which led her to attend Florida Atlantic University earning a BS in Biology. Her passion for boating and the outdoors led her to travel the country as a raft guide in Colorado and West Virginia, followed by winters hunting powder in Colorado's backcountry. After two years in the Peace Corps, she returned to Colorado to pursue her passion for climbing, kayaking, and ski mountaineering. Maintaining her love for conservation and protecting our natural resources, she takes time out from pursuing her outdoor recreation goals to be an active volunteer with raptor nesting programs on the Front Range with JeffCo's Open Space. Vanessa is currently serving as the Development Coordinator for the American Alpine Club.
Paul Curran - Gunks Campground Manager
Paul was first introduced to climbing while in the Army. Once out of the Army he lived as a naturalist on the Mohonk Preserve while attending SUNY New Paltz without running water or electricity. He worked as a ranger on the preserve in exchange for housing. It was during this time he developed a love of rock climbing.
Paul started guiding twenty years ago, and within a few years of guiding he was running all operations of a climbing school. Recently Paul worked for Disney on Broadway. Disney came looking for expert climbers who have mastered rope work, rock climbing equipment. Paul also works part-time for an NFL stunt company. He's excited to be home again in the shadows of the cliff he loves.
Bob learned to tie in safely from Lute Jerstad (American Everest Summiter 1963) in 1974 and has been climbing ever since. A Maine native, Bob enjoys many outdoor pursuits with his children and wife, Lauren. Active in the Search and Rescue community in New England, Bob has worked closely with State and Local agencies to help lost or injured individuals in the Maine woods. Having first stayed at the Ranch in 1976, Bob is excited about the opportunity to welcome climbers to the center of Teton mountaineering.
Raised in Chicago-land area, Kristi escaped the hectic city life for big trees, beautiful landscapes, and the opportunity to be planted between an ocean and the mountains of the high country.
Kristi began climbing in 2013, after moving to Chapel Hill North Carolina to complete her Bachelor's degree in Philosophy. In efforts to learn about her "self," she found that nothing quite compared to the learning experience that was to be had while on the rock.
After spending many breaks from school climbing in The New River Gorge, Kristi immediately fell in love with the area, and knew this was the place she would forever call home.
Winnie Lam - Volunteer Support Specialist
Winnie Lam is originally from Austin, Texas where she climbed on the stalactites and tufas of Reimer’s Ranch. Recently, Winnie left to the West after a couple years on the road, backpacking and climbing. The pursuit of cooler temps and mountains had a strong calling so moving to the Bay Area was an easy decision. The Eastern Sierras and Northern Mexico are some of her favorite climbing spots. Her favorite adventures have often started with confident approaches that turned into character building-bushwhacking-talus scrambles with no trails in sight. When it comes to climbing, she enjoys it all. Although nowadays Winnie is mostly a boulderer, for the love of the movement on the rock, powerful moves, and easy access to snacks.