American Alpine Club Expands Mission and Membership to Serve All Climbers

Opening membership benefits to climbers of all abilities, ages and specialties, the American Alpine Club today unveiled an expanded mission that will propel the premier mountaineering and rock climbing organization into another century of success. The nation’s leading mountaineering and climbing organization, the American Alpine Club (AAC) has introduced major expansion plans to better meet the needs of all climbers—with a multitude of initiatives ranging from new lodging and huts in more accessible places, to modernized and expanded climbing and educational resources.
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Opening membership benefits to climbers of all abilities, ages and specialties, the American Alpine Club today unveiled an expanded mission that will propel the premier mountaineering and rock climbing organization into another century of success. The nation's leading mountaineering and climbing organization, the American Alpine Club (AAC) has introduced major expansion plans to better meet the needs of all climbers—with a multitude of initiatives ranging from new lodging and huts in more accessible places, to modernized and expanded climbing and educational resources.

“This represents a whole new American Alpine Club that will appeal to a new generation of climbers, while continuing to service veteran mountaineers that turn to the AAC for fellowship, trip planning and more,” said Jim Donini, president of the American Alpine Club. “We're enhancing the Club's physical resources with new huts and lodging, including three new facilities to be built in the next year. The AAC is expanding online access to critical knowledge resources, spearheading new educational initiatives and strengthening our already considerable commitment to conservation. With so much more to offer, the American Alpine Club is attracting a wide range of new membership, and providing much more to our existing members.”

Highlights of the Expanded AAC Mission include:

•Open to All Climbers – Easier to join with no climbing prerequisites, the AAC is opening the world of mountaineering to beginners and advanced alpine enthusiasts alike. New in 2007: Young Climber discounts ($40 memberships for under age 29).
•Expanded Lodging Options – From the AAC's new Snowbird Hut in Alaska, to plans for a new Shawangunks/Mohonk Preserve facility in New York and a facility near Joshua Tree, the AAC is introducing more lodging options to facilitate mountaineering in both convenient and exotic locations.
•Conservation and Preservation of the Mountain Environment – The AAC is expanding its significant commitment to preservation and restoration of the alpine world.
•Sharing the climbing craft – The AAC, known for its leadership in climbing mentorship, strives to cultivate skill development for new and experienced climbers alike by leveraging the experience of members who are recognized as many of the world's most accomplished climbers and mountaineering guides
•First Mountaineering Museum in the Western Hemisphere – The American Alpine Club is breaking ground on the Nation's first museum dedicated to mountaineering history and education. The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum will educate and inspire visitors about mountains around the world through the ultimate mountain experience available indoors.
•Online Trip & Route Planning – The world's leading compilation of climbing achievement—The American Alpine Journal—is poised for an online launch, empowering climbers to search for key route information, plan trips and coordinate group outings via the internet.
•Enhanced Knowledge Resources – The AAC's substantial knowledge resources continue to grow, with online access to search for and borrow books from the Western Hemisphere's largest climbing library (set to double in holdings to more than 60,000 titles in the next few years).
•Money to Go Climbing – The AAC supports climbers young and old in their travels around the world, with more than $60,000 in expanded grants to fund expeditions, and rescue insurance to protect members physically and financially.

“In 2007 and beyond, the primary focus of the American Alpine Club is to support the diversity of people our membership represents, providing modern resources and a growing array of services to enthusiasts of every climbing specialty and geographic location,” said Phil Powers, executive director of the American Alpine Club. “We're expanding the AAC presence and enhancing our member offerings, building new initiatives on an already strong foundation of conservation, education and scientific exploration. Still, at heart, the success of the American Alpine Club is the community it provides with thousands of climbing enthusiasts sharing information and finding climbing partners. Recognizing this, we're even more focused on young members and new climbers.”

New Lodging for Present & Future Climbers
The American Alpine Club has long provided affordable places to stay near major climbing attractions, from its much-heralded Grand Teton Climbers Ranch to discounted partner lodging facilities across North America. The expanded mission introduced for 2007 and beyond brings with it new facilities in the destinations, such as the Snowbird Hut in Alaska's Talkeetna Range, which the AAC purchased in October. The Club is building a new facility similar to the Grand Teton Climbers Ranch that will serve as a gateway to the Mohonk Preserve and the Shawangunks—long notorious for a dearth of decent camping for climbers (see an earlier release on the Gunks campground at www.americanalpineclub.org). Members already have access to a Canadian system of 28 huts.

“We're making it easier for members to find great lodging options for weekend trips and shorter excursions, as well as at more remote and aggressive climbing sites. The AAC has a new facility near the boundary of Joshua Tree also in the works, and Yosemite is at the center of our radar for continued expansion of our lodging facilities,” said Travis A. Spitzer, AAC Huts Committee chair and board member. “Our Huts Committee continues to put most of our energy into improving the camping situation for climbers at our nation's most internationally known climbing destinations.”

Maintaining the Conservation and Education Focus
The American Alpine Club continues to expand its physical resources in order to better service members, improve conservation initiatives and broaden the impact of its educational efforts. The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum will open early in 2008 as the only museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. It will offer a comprehensive overview of mountaineering history, an interactive treatment of how climbers approach their craft, and a celebration of the unique contributions of American climbers. The museum is dedicated to the development of clean climbing, and the big wall techniques developed in Yosemite and exported by Robbins, Chouinard and others. The AAC's library is doubling its holdings to nearly 60,000 volumes over the next few years as the result of a recent donation, and will feature new acquisitions including texts dating back to the sixteenth century. The collections are more available than ever, with an online catalog enabling members to find and borrow books by mail.

“With a simple e-mail I can receive a copy of virtually any guide book ever published,” said climber and long-time member Pete Takeda. “Considering the number of place I might visit in any given year, that is a pretty good service.”

On the conservation front, the AAC continues to lead the way in commitment to clean climbing and Leave No Trace practices, as is evident in the Club's continuing development of new best practices for low-impact human waste disposal in climbing environments.

“In the face of all manner of threats to our environment, the American Alpine Club is leading by example to deepen our commitment to conservation,” said Ellen Lapham, conservation chair for the American Alpine Club. “We're leading the charge to protect the precious alpine environments, with research, grant funding and a dedicated volunteer corp. The AAC's Alpine Conservation Partnership—an effort to protect and restore Alpine ecosystems around the world—builds on the already considerable conservation success we've had working with groups like The Mountain Institute in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Our expanded mission will help us to achieve more such success stories in other mountain regions around the world.”

Above all, the AAC helps climbers go climbing. Climbers are protected with worldwide rescue insurance. Knowledge resources and member interaction help climbers plan expeditions and coordinate outings locally, and around the world. And helping to fund expeditions, the AAC will award over $60,000 in grants this year including the $12,000 Lyman Spitzer Grant and the new Mountain Hardwear–McNeill-Nott Award, which will contribute more than $20,000 to climbers in its inaugural year.

About The American Alpine Club
Founded in 1902, the not-for-profit American Alpine Club is the premier national organization in the United States devoted to mountaineering, rock climbing and the multitude of issues facing climbers. For more than 100 years, the AAC has led mountaineering adventure, scientific research and education in the U.S. The Club's active membership ranges from beginning climbers to a “who's who” of the world's most experienced mountaineers, working together to cultivate mountaineering and fellowship among climbers. The organization's dedication to education and conservation drives dissemination of knowledge, continued study and scientific exploration of the high mountains of the world, from the Arctic to Antarctic circles. With its headquarters in the American Mountaineering Center, Golden, Colorado, the American Alpine Club serves its membership through regional sections across America, from Alaska to Florida. For more information on the AAC, and to learn how to become active in the organization and the sport of climbing, visit the AAC Web site at www.AmericanAlpineClub.org.

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