A letter from our Executive Director

Dear Community,

Three years ago the American Alpine Club reached out to its members, wrote a plan, and embarked on a journey to become the national club that American climbers truly wanted and needed. Like any great expedition, that journey has been ambitious and challenging—and we have learned a lot along the way. In that time, we have grown from 8,000 members to 13,000 for two main reasons:

  1. Improved member benefits and experience.
  2. Volunteer and staff representation around the country that is listening to and working within your local community.

By listening we have done a lot of learning and evolving that has led us to the following beliefs:

  • As a club, we are here for each other.
  • We were founded and still exist because we share a passion for climbing.
  • Our members, past and present, are incredible people doing incredible things.
  • Knowledge is power: important climbing information should be shared and forever preserved.
  • Our climbing landscapes are finite and need protection.
  • No matter age, objective, or ability, we strive to be competent when climbing.
  • A united climbing community is important because we can do more together than alone.

These beliefs have given the AAC staff and board of directors a fresh perspective on our mission. A yearlong process led our board to adopt the following statements that will guide us into a new era:

  • Our MISSION is to support our shared passion for climbing and respect for the places we climb.
  • Our VISION is a united community of competent climbers and healthy climbing landscapes.

What does this mean? As a club, we can and will work together to make our climbing world cleaner, safer, and—simply put—better for each other. As a community, we will be investigating how to best deliver on our revised mission and vision. And in the meantime, as a staff, we will continue to improve AAC benefits, listen to and advocate for your climbing needs, and create opportunities for you to get involved and to make a difference locally and nationally.

We are exceptionally proud of the work that went into these new guiding principles. We believe they will focus our organization and get you, our members, even more involved in making positive changes to our climbing world. Below are just a few perspectives from the AAC board and staff. Have a thought yourself? We would love to hear it.

Thank you for being part of this new journey.


Phil Powers,

Executive Director

Why we're excited

Phil Powers

Executive Director

"We are exceptionally proud of the work that went into these new guiding principles. We believe they will focus our organization and get you, our members, even more involved in making positive changes to our climbing world."

Sarah Garlick

Northeast Regional Coordinator

"As part of the AAC's field staff, one of the things I see every day is the richness that climbing brings to people's lives. Our members come from all walks of life and carry just as many different perspectives on climbing, yet we share this common core. I'm inspired and driven by the vision of a united climbing community that supports one another and the places we love."

Pete Ward

Live Your Dream Grant Northeast Region Committee Member

"The American Alpine Club are the keepers of the flame for the traditions of what climbing has been and the leadership group for what climbing will be. Over the coming decades climbing is poised for extraordinary growth and in my view, the AAC is perfectly positioned to ensure that our core principles are carried forward into the community that we become."

Erik Lambert

Marketing Director

"I am proud that our organization has the foresight to look ahead and the ambition and fortitude to embark on that vision. I have seen the AAC become more inclusive, getting more done by listening to and collaborating with members and volunteers. These guiding principles simply reinforce that direction—to work together for a healthy community in a healthy world."

Karen Daubert

Board Director

"I don’t climb major walls, do first ascents, or travel to exotic places. I simply love scrambling up peaks in my home state and didn’t always feel welcome at the AAC. Climbing is my physical and mental health. And I love to share this sense of community with everyone who will listen. Now I feel that I do belong as a member of AAC for one simple fact: I love climbing!"

Keegan Young

Development Director

"In climbing I discovered my tribe. As a member of the AAC I found the inspiration, the support, and the network to cultivate my craft. These guiding principles capture the essence of what we, as climbers, expect and require from our national organization. I’m stoked to have this compass, built by climbers and for climbers, to lead us into the next era."

Whitney Bradberry

Content Manager

"I think it's exciting that the AAC updated the vision and mission. The new mission holds all of us, as members, reliable for supporting each other and respecting the places we climb. We're on the right path to becoming a more inclusive club and stronger community. "

Matt Culberson

Board Director

"Our opportunity through the AAC is to boldly steward the places where we play and live and which we love, with the people whom we share our passion for climbing and the mountains. This makes our lives and the world of the mountains better and stronger."

Clark Gerhardt

Board Director

"For 40 years the AAC has been part of my attachment to climbing, and as climbing evolves so will the AAC. The new initiatives are "on route!""

John Heilprin

Board Director and Information & Marketing Committee Chairman

"Shared passion and respect are the bedrock of our new guiding principles, a compass to the AAC's true north. They deepen our recognition that climbing and environment are inseparable. They implore us to care always for each other and our natural world. They stand to elevate our leadership and support for the American climbing community - and to quietly transform our organization and ourselves as we fulfill them. "

Carol Kotchek


"I have been on AAC staff for four years and have had the privilege of experiencing all the fantastic changes that have taken place in that time frame. The vision and values of Community, Conservation and Competency encompass what we have been working towards and are an inspiring goal for the future. "

Paul Gagner

Board Director

"For me, climbing is a lifestyle that I am totally passionate about and engaged with. I'm proud to associate myself with the AAC because it is a community of like-minded people who come together to support and advocate for this crazy passion. I believe the club is a welcoming place for all climbers to network, play, learn and have fun doing the most incredible sport on earth. "

Todd Hoffman

Board Director

"The AAC is now more important and relevant than ever for its members and the climbing community as a whole. With our more refined and up-to-date focus as a club we are better able to meet the challenges we all face!"

Michelle Hoffman

Digital Media Intern

"I have been a loyal member of the AAC ever since I realized that climbing was my passion. In a short period of time, especially the few months I’ve spent in the office, I have seen this organization grow and evolve tremendously. I am excited about the direction these new guiding principles will lead us."

Erik Rieger

Assistant Editor

"It's amazing that the AAC continues to look ahead and envision a future for climbers even better than our present. It's nice to know someone has your community's back."

David Boersma

Marketing Manager

"I'm especially excited for the emphesis in caring for the places where we play. Heading out into the pristine wilderness refreshes my soul. I'm happy to know that creating and caring for healthy landscapes is important to us as a club and people who love to climb."