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.
Keegan spent his early years exploring the wilderness and trout streams around his home in Idaho. He attended Oklahoma State University where his attraction to nature and conservation eventually led him to a career with the Tulsa Zoo before joining the AAC staff in 2011. His passion for mountaineering runs deep and is magnified by his love for the climbing tribe. Though he's climbed in the Himalayas, Cordillera Blanca, Alaska Range, and Patagonia, he can usually be found scrambling Kelso Ridge in the Front Range on any given weekend. Keegan currently serves as our Managing Director of Membership, Marketing, Development, Publications and Volunteer Programs.
Craig Hoffman grew up north of Chicago but migrated west as soon a possible. While attending Fort Lewis College in Durango, Craig took up mountaineering, rock climbing, telemark skiing and trail running. Following graduation Craig began working as a guide and had the opportunity to climb throughout the Himalayas, Alaska and South America. Craig later became an instructor for the Outward Bound School, instructing courses from 21-83 days through out Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska and Washington. Craig has worked for several small and large technology firms throughout the state and has started and operated his own web shop. In 2002 Craig moved to Boulder where he met his wife and running/climbing partner. The two moved to Chicago for the last several years while she attended medical school but are now happily living back in Louisville, CO and enjoying getting back out climbing and running.
Vickie Hormuth - Development Director
Vickie joined the Fundraising Department of the American Alpine Club in 2012. She has been involved in the non-profit arena since 2001 working for nonprofits including Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Outward Bound, the Environmental Defense Center, & the Nonprofit Support Center of Santa Barbara. A native of Colorado, Vickie was introduced to the outdoors at an early age, but didn't discover climbing until attending University of Colorado, Boulder. There she became an active member of the CU Alpine Club, eventually serving as the marketing & outreach chair on the Board of Directors. Since that time Vickie has climbed her way across the US and around the world, exploring New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, France, and Greece, but is happiest climbing at her home crag of Eldorado Canyon or Lumpy Ridge.
Philip Swiny - Facilities Director
Philip is originally (sort of) from New England, but has lived and worked all over the country. He grew up spending a great deal of time outdoors with his family, and has continued to do so as much as possible both professionally and recreationally ever since.
He has lead and managed youth conservation programs, worked as a rock-climbing guide, coordinated international research expeditions and most everything in between.
Philip joined the AAC in 2012 as the GTCR manager and has spent summers at the Ranch since, he also traveled to El Paso, TX to coordinate renovations and manage the all-new Hueco Rock Ranch. Philip has now moved to AAC HQ to handle logistics for all existing properties and help research and develop new lodging locations.
Maria Povec joined the AAC at the end of 2015 as the Policy and Advocacy Director. She comes to the AAC with seven years of policy experience and a master's in policy and leadership from Stanford University. Maria has worked for the Maine Legislature, several education non-profits and most recently, as a policy analyst at a think tank in Denver where she convened experts and advised legislators, governors' staff and state agency leaders. She was first introduced to climbing while doing contract work in Cape Town, South Africa and continues to be drawn to the sport for its dynamic community of climbers and her love of outdoor life style. Maria and her husband Josh are originally from Maine and are psyched to be living and playing in Colorado.
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.
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.
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.
Adam Peters spent his early climbing days running up and down the granite crags and domes of the Wichita Mountains in his home state of Oklahoma. After graduating from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2006 he relented a career in law and moved to Golden, Colorado to pursue the climbing lifestyle in full. As a co-founder of 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell in Arkansas, Adam revels in a good ole fashioned climber gathering. While his current appetite for rock climbing endeavors involves clipping bolts he can also be found returning to his Okie roots by plugging and chugging up gear routes. It's even rumored that he's been known to clamber up an alpine route or two in the Front Range of Colorado.
Adam is absolutely ecstatic to be spearheading the National Volunteer and Chapter Program.
Jeff Deikis - Senior Programs Manager, Craggin Classic Series and Climbing Grants
Jeff Deikis, originally hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, learned to climb on the overhanging sandstone of the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. After graduating from the University of Michigan, and embracing the dirt-bag lifestyle, Jeff moved into the bed of his truck and began a four year odyssey exploring the Nation's climbing--from Rumney, New Hampshire to Yosemite Valley, California and everywhere in-between. While coming from a sport climbing and bouldering background, Jeff does enjoy plugging the occasional gear and getting terrified high off the deck. When not on the rock, he can be found trudging into the mountains, snowboard in tow, looking for any line that could inspire him.
More recently, Jeff has made the sunny skies of California his home, living in the Eastern Sierra amongst the juggernaut granite boulders of Bishop. Jeff manages and directs the AAC's national grants programs as well as the Craggin' Classic event series.
Heidi Medema - Special Events Coordinator
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. Now she joins the AAC team in Golden, Colorado as the Special Events Coordinator. She can't wait to explore Colorado, summit 14'ers and spend sunny days climbing all of the local crags!
After lots of Googling and a single visit, Whitney moved West. She found roommates on the Internet, packed a few things in her car, and left Florida for the mountains. They haven’t let her leave since. After earning an Art Education degree from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, she found herself volunteering her way into the outdoor industry. In 2012 a position at the Club was created for her to shape stories and mobilize community; she now manages the marketing department. In her free time she runs a gear review company, enjoys hiking Colorado's 14ers, skiing, and exploring new crags.
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 Mountaineeering 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, son and two dogs.
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, puppies, sailing, backcountry skiing, and competitive games of Bananagrams.
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.
Born in Philadelphia, Sam was raised in Roanoke, Virginia, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. After a childhood spent hiking, kayaking, biking and exploring the trails and mountains of western Virginia, Sam began climbing in high school and then more seriously while attending Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sam's experience with NOLS and AMGA allowed him to spend 3 summers guiding climbing trips for the schools freshman wilderness orientation. His studies in environmental science, architecture and geography enriched his love of the outdoors, while his time spent in the Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, and Joshua Tree developed his love of the sport and the climbing community. Sam bypassed the state of Colorado when he biked from Oregon to Virginia several years ago, but today he is thrilled to be in Golden, where he has exchanged one mountain range for another. He is eager to connect with fellow climbers, to encourage and promote membership, and to share the vision of the AAC with a new generation of climbers.
Michelle Hoffman - Online Store Manager
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 Online Store Manager in October 2014.
Sterling Boin - Financial Operations Analyst
Sterling Boin joined The American Alpine Club in May as a Financial Operations and Marketing Analyst after earning his Bachelors degree in Finance and Marketing from Syracuse University. Originally from the Bronx NY, getting out into the wilderness was no easy task growing up. Sterling developed a passion for skiing from weekend trips to Vermont's Green Mountains. Skiing soon led to other vertical adventures including climbing in the Gunks and Adirondacks. These outdoor activities brought him out west at the first opportunity. Sterling enjoys working to unite the members of the AAC with all of their different outdoor passions.
Katie Sauter - Library Director
Katie joined the AAC as the Library Manager in 2013. While attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, she spent many hours in Norlin Library where she discovered her calling to be a librarian. She went on to get a Masters in Library & Information Studies at McGill University in Montreal. She enjoys reading, hiking, snowshoeing and exploring Colorado and its history. Her favorite collection in the AAC Library's archives is past president J. Monroe Thorington's scrapbooks from his exploration of the Canadian Rockies and Selkirks. Recommended books are Starlight and Storm, The Last of His Kind (about Brad Washburn) and Colorado 14er Disasters.
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.
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.
Joe was a commercial fisherman from Long Island working up and down the east coast. He always had a passion for the outdoors and when he wasn't at sea he was in the mountains hiking. Someone took him climbing once and he was hooked. He now has been living in the shadow of the Gunks for 6 years and has fallen in love with the area. When not working at the campground he spends most of his time climbing, hiking and cycling.
Natalie grew up in North Carolina and discovered climbing in 2002, while earning her degree in history for secondary education at Appalachian State University. After flailing around her home state and the New River Gorge as a trad climber and sport climber, Natalie found herself without a dedicated belayer and simultaneously moved to Birmingham, Alabama. There she picked-up bouldering, while also sport climbing as much as possible. The trad gear was sold off.
All told, Natalie taught middle school for over half a decade, earning a master’s degree in education along the way. In 2012 she decided it would be more enjoyable to become a full-time climber than attempt to reform the education system. She moved into her car and spent a few years bouldering and sport climbing across the country. She landed in Chattanooga for a few years, but the pull of the mountains was too great and she now enjoys life managing the New River Gorge campground.
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.
Born and raised in Kentucky, Blake spent his childhood in the mountains of Appalachia, where he began his lifelong affair with the outdoors. He has been rock climbing for over twenty-six years, is a certified AMGA guide, and enjoys all types of climbing, from big walls to crack climbs to clipping bolts and pebble wrestling. He has ticked off hundreds of routes across the US, including over 1700 routes in the Red River Gorge alone, over 100 of which are first ascents, all while managing a successful software company.
Blake’s combined experience in the outdoor and tech worlds brought him to the American Alpine Club in 2012, where he now pushes around zeros and ones, constructing web applications and software as the AAC Senior Software Engineer and Code Monkey.
These days, you can find Blake in and around Red River Gorge, Kentucky, climbing rocks, bolting new routes, fixing old ones, dusting off boulders, and eating Nutella brownies at the Red River Rockhouse, where he can often be found writing code for the American Alpine Club and maintaining the website www.BadBolts.com where climbers nation-wide can report bolts that may need attention. Check it out next time you find a spinner.
After years of flatland and football, Clark found home again at higher elevations after a momentous trek in the Colorado Rockies. Shortly thereafter, he moved to the Left Coast, seeking tutelage from the madcaps and boddhisatvas of the climbing tribe. The will to climb has since taken him back east and west again to delight in the vertical lands of Turtle Island. Clark is thrilled to carry the torch down in Hueco, to serve the climbing community and Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site in such a way that maintains current and future access.
Being raised in New York City did not keep John from the outdoor world, he grew up hiking, hunting and fishing spending most weekends in upstate NY. A passion for travel developed in him over many family vacations and hunting trips both domestically and internationally. John pursues rock climbing as his main focus and is always looking for an adventure. An AMGA certified SPI and licensed NYS guide, John loves working with those new to climbing and the outdoors. John is psyched to be working with the AAC and is looking forward to a great season at Hueco!
Adam grew up in New England, but after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management from The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry made his pilgrimage out west. Adam was introduced to the outdoors at an early age through scouting and a love to role around in the dirt. He has been an avid backpacker for 14 years, a caver for 7, a rock climber for 6, and is always looking to try something new. So weather it has been hiking through mountain passes in Banff National park, caving in the depths of Guatemala and West Virginia or summiting Mount Washington NH in sub zero temperatures he is exited to break into the world of alpine climbing as well as teaching others about conservation and the importance of protecting nature for the future.
Bryan "Raff" Rafferty was born and raised in the Boston area of New England. He began his climbing career by exploring the seemingly endless supply of underrated granite in New Hampshire and Maine. From the first moment his skin touched the stone, a transformation took place which would change the bloodline of Rafferty's forever. A climber was born. His timeline was permanently shifted to one of adventure and mischief. With an insatiable thirst for the vertical life, the act of rock climbing became a platform for what would become a wide array of side projects and hobbies leading him on the path to eventual glory in becoming an AAC Membership Coordinator, the first of it's kind.
Currently residing in the witch city of Salem, MA, Raff spends his days spreading the good word of the American Alpine Club, being a full time dad, and occasionally climbing when time allows on that sweet sweet granite he likes to call home. Always psyched and rarely idol, you're bound to see this elusive creature out at the crag or in the gym complaining about gravity. Give him a hug.
Truc has been reveling in the climbing world for over 25 years and is currently serving as the Marketing and Communications Director for Vertical World Climbing Gyms. Aside from teaching his 6 month old son the ethics of climbing-dirt-baggery, he's an avid photographer, skier mountaineer, and alpinist, as well as the guitarist for The Struggles and an unbelievable source of energy and stoke. You can usually find him emceeing our events and instigating a party.
As a living breathing namesake, Dakota Walz represents the few unlikey wall climbers to come from the flatlands of North Dakota. Seriously, that's his real name. He didn't have the opportunity to experience rock climbing until he was about 19 at a local YMCA wall. It was short and far from world class, but at the time it was his only gateway to the world of climbing. Soon after, he moved away from ND making the classic climber's pilgrimage to just about every major climbing destination he could, cutting his teeth on a myriad of styles and disciplines of climbing along the way. These days he works as an Emergency Medical Technician on a local ambulance in Denver, CO while simultaneously fronting the Denver Chapter Membership Coordinator position.
Matt is a Bay Area native and has always been a huge fan of the outdoors. Climbing was an instant love affair that began in 2010 and has stayed hot and heavy ever since. Matt is a die-hard boulderer (real word) but has recently got psyched on trad climbing. Matt's love for the outdoors and the preservation of our outdoor spaces led him to start the Bay Area Climbers Coalition, a volunteer-run non-profit that works with land managers and climbers to preserve, steward, and maintain access to local climbing areas. When Matt isn't climbing or working with land managers, you will find him working at Berkeley Ironworks, eating snacks, or suffering on his road bike up in the Berkeley Hills. He is really excited to make the AAC in the Bay Area even better for the climbing community!
Born in Staten Island, NY, Cliff moved to Granby, CT at a young age. There, he was promptly rescued by the local fire department after climbing too high up a tree. A continued love for the outdoors kept Cliff climbing, but it wasn't until his senior year at the George Washington University that he would really embrace the sport and it's community. Cliff moved to NYC in 2007 where he began exploring the Gunks while working at the MPHC climbing gym and route setting at various other facilities in the area. Yet, the open road beckoned to Cliff and he would soon pack up his truck for a true taste of the dirtbag lifestyle. Two years later, Cliff returned to NYC with a desire for Yosemite's granite cracks, the sacred boulders of Hueco Tanks, the steep amphitheaters of the Red, and two screws in his right ankle. After instructing and route setting at The Cliffs Climbing + Fitness for several years, Cliff is now a part of the route setting team at Brooklyn Boulders and happy to be squeezing in pitches in the Gunks again. Cliff is elated to come on board with the American Alpine Club and excited as always to share his passion for climbing with the NYC community.