Sunday, March 6, 2011

American Alpine Club - Presidents Message at Annual Benefit Dinner

Last Saturday the American Alpine Club held its Annual Benefit Dinner in Seattle.  As the current president I was honored to be the MC.  It was was a great event with awards to distinguished climbers, past and present like Fred Beckey, Bob Craig, Tom Frost, Hayden Kennedy, and Royal Robbins. 

I was proud to announce the adoption of a 5 year strategic plan by the AAC Board of Directors.  Implementing this plan will result in the most significant changes to AAC club programs in its 109 year history while at the same time preserving those aspects that honor our past.  The AAC needs to grow and change in response to an ever-changing world and to be a more inclusive community for all types of climbers.     

The AAC is changing what it does, but some things will never change - we will always hold fast to our values of Fortitude, Partnership, Creativity and Independence, and Stewardship. The AAC will continue to be that place of support and inspiration for the young and the old, for those who climb all the time and those who get out just as much as they can.  We will always be inspired by the achievements of Club members who explored the unexplored and pushed the boundaries of what was possible – those who built the tradition of excellence that inspires climbers today and is at the core of what the AAC is all about
Successful 1958 American Gasherbum I Expedition
The AAC's Vision is to "Advance the Climbing Way of Life”.  In the past, the AAC has delivered on this vision by honoring and recording our history and past achievements, performing advocacy and conservation work related to the places we climb, and providing in depth climbing information from around the world.  But in order to more fully deliver on our vision and meet the needs of the climbing community for the next 100 years, the AAC is building on our past accomplishments and: The AAC will resource the initiative to better engage local climbing communities by hiring a several Regional Coordinators across the United States.  These Regional Coordinators will help organize the climbing  community to ensure that important conservation and advocacy projects, social events, and community outreach work is accomplished.   
  • Engaging local climbing communities across the United States,
  • Making our hard copy information resources more available on-line,
  • Promoting climbing and conservation through an expanded grants program,
  • Improving member benefits like more insurance program choices and discounts, and
  • Expanding lodging options at national climbing destinations where they are inadequate 
We believe that our efforts will create more vibrant AAC communities where people live and climb and will result in increased membership to make the AAC more representative of the American climbing community. Our members, individual donors and industry partners have shaped this plan and will need to remain involved so we can sustain these important programs, projects and benefits.  
 
The recent effort to help save the Lower Index Town Wall,  is a good example of the kind of local projects where the AAC will be involved.  Index is a favorite destination of for the climbing community in the Northwest and is widely recognized as one of the best granite rock climbing crags in America.  In 2009 the AAC partnered with the Access Fund and the Washington Climber’s Coalition to raise money to purchase the Lower Town Wall at Index and build a toilet and other improvements.  The property was purchased and will be given to Washington State Parks – it is now known as the Stimson Bullitt Climbing Reserve and will be available to climbers in perpetuity.
 

Climbing has shaped who we are as people and the AAC provides opportunities for us to give back so that future generations of climbers will also benefit.  Climbing has reinforced in each of us the importance of taking responsibility for ourselves and being there for each other, of problem solving and mustering the grit to overcome great challenges, of taking a stand to protect what we hold dear, and of living life on our own terms.  These are the things that the AAC is about – the things that matter.

I encourage every climber to get involved in your community.  You can make a difference.

To read more about the AAC Annual Benefit Dinner go to the following link to Climbing magazine.

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