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2014 Live Your Dream Grants Fund 50 Projects

More than $28,000 Awarded to Climbers to Build Skills and Confidence

April 29, 2014, Golden, CO—The American Alpine Club (AAC) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2014 Live Your Dream grant, powered by The North Face. This year we were able to fund 50 dream projects by individuals looking to push their limits and realize their climbing ambitions.

Founded in 2012, the Live Your Dream grant is the first national grant program to support and promote unforgettable experiences for climbers—specifically, experiences that provide the skills and confidence to realize one’s climbing ambitions; to dream big, to grow as climbers, and to inspire others. The program was born from the idea that the most important climbs out there are our own. In support of adventure and personal growth, the AAC provides seed money to individuals or small teams—of all disciplines, ages, and abilities—who have ambitions to build skills and confidence and expand their climbing horizons.

The North Face is a national partner and supporter of the American Alpine Club and the Live Your Dream grant. Additionally, the grant is made possible in part through the following local supporters: Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival, Touchstone Climbing & Fitness, and the Kidder Aspiring Alpinist Award.

In total the AAC’s 2014 Live Your Dream grant received a record-breaking 362 applications. Six regional volunteer committees awarded 50 grants, totaling over $28,000. The recipients and their dream projects are outlined below.


Jenny Abegg: $200

Jenny will meet her partner, Polly Dacus, in the North Cascades and they’ll spend two weeks climbing some of the most classic routes in the range including a traverse of the Liberty Bell group. She writes, “Our dream is to move quickly, over long distances, on rocky summits, as a female team sharing honesty, tears, laughs, and friendship. We aspire to do this on bigger and badder objectives; this is just the beginning.”

Katherine Bill: $250

Katherine has had the topo for Levitation 29 (III 5.11) sitting on her refrigerator for almost a year, but as a mother of two young kids the dream has seemed increasingly remote. This grant will help find the motivation she needs to train. Her and her partner, Laura McCabe (another mother of two young girls) will travel to the desert to train and send this legendary route.

Ian Bolliger: $350

Ian and his team of ski mountaineers will travel to the relatively unexplored Talkeetna Mountains in the Alaska Range looking for first descents. This mixed group of adventurers is taking advantage of breaks in their respective academic lives to chase down their dreams in a remote region of Alaska before some of them enter back into advanced degree programs.

Vanessa Burdick: $400 & Kathryn Schlaich: $400

Vanessa and Kathryn spent the last year challenging and pushing each other on steep routes at Smith Rock. After having started climbing with male partners, they’ve discovered the unique energy that comes with two strong women climbing together. The Live Your Dream grant will help them break into 5.13s, notch Vanessa’s first international trip, and fly the Oregon flag in the storied crags of Ceuse, France.

Candi Cook: $500

Candi originally hails from Texas and started getting a taste for the outdoors in the desert. She moved to Portland and started cutting her climbing teeth with the Mazamas, eventually taking a crack at Denali two years ago. She’ll be traveling to the Torres del Paine with her partners Laura Pigion and Karin Mullendorf to climb the Shark’s Fin.

Shawna Cooke: $350

Shawna is done with her first year of graduate school and ready to recharge her spirit and soul with a big trip into the mountains. Her goals of climbing Ham and Eggs on the Mooses Tooth, the Japanese Couloir of Mt. Barille, and the Southwest Route on Mt. Dan Beard will help put her years of climbing experience to the test.

Ryan Cudo: $350

Ryan returns for round two on Ham and Eggs in the Ruth Gorge after having to retreat from the route last year. Ryan graduates from the University of Alaska this spring, and accomplishing this dream will be his way of celebrating.

Alicia Imbody: $250

Two years ago Alicia moved to the northwest, started climbing, and joined the American Alpine Club. She’s setting her sights high on the Complete Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton with her partner Jonathan Skeen. This trip will challenge their skill set and test their relationship as a newly engaged couple.

Ammi Midstokke: $250

Single mother Ammi was with her seven-year-old daughter (a constant companion on many treks and hikes around the world) at Manning basecamp on Mt. Rainier in 2012 when her daughter asked, “When can I climb to a summit with you?” That someday is this summer, as the mom and daughter team will attempt the 10,358’ summit of South Sister. Ammi hopes to share the same life changing spirit we all find in the mountains to her daughter.

Emily Reinsel: $200

Emily’s adventure will start in Wyoming. She’ll climb in the Big Horn Mountains and Devil’s Tower. She and her partner will attempt a new aid line on Devil’s Tower and further document the Big Horn crags to finalize a new guidebook.

Szu-Ting Yi: $500

Szu-Ting is an award-winning author, originally from Taiwan, who didn’t start climbing until she moved to the U.S. She earned her PhD in computer science, but knew she wanted to be an outdoor educator and writer. After many international expeditions she returns to the unclimbed Southeast Ridge of Huzha Peak in Sichuan, China. Her first two attempts have thwarted her and she hopes the third time is a charm.

Recipients were selected by a volunteer committee consisting of John Connor, Emily Stifler, Graham Zimmerman, Roger Strong, Steve Swenson, Kit DesLauriers and AAC Northwest Regional Manager Eddie Espinosa.


David Allfry: $1,000

David has his sights on establishing a direct, new route up the East Face of the Mooses Tooth in the Ruth Gorge of Alaska. Their proposed route will require using all disciplines of climbing.

Brian Biancardi: $500

Brian plans to link the Sierra Nevada’s Evolution Traverse with the Thunderbolt Peak to Mt. Sill Traverse, in a single push, while running the trails in between from start to finish. This objective is a combination of ultra-marathoning and high-altitude alpine climbing. He will tackle nine 13,000’ peaks, five 14,000’ peaks, and an estimated 83 miles of trail running at altitude—all without stopping. To his knowledge these two traverses have never been linked up before, let alone in a single push.

Ali Feinberg: $500

Alison dreams of climbing the remote and ultra-classic Lotus Tower Flower in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Experienced Sierra Nevada and Teton Range climber, Ali will apply her skills to the physical demands of climbing 19 committing pitches.

Laura Henn: $500

Laura has long dreamed of building her outdoor trad climbing experience with her partner through a shared ascent of The Ultimate Everything on the Squamish Chief in British Columbia. This route will challenge both of their personal limits through ten pitches of climbing involving a variety of techniques: including slab, crack, and face climbing.

Michelle Kinny: $500

Michelle is looking to develop her skills and transition from a gym climber to an outdoor climber. She dreams of embarking on a journey that combines climbing skill development, exposure to new cultures, and community service. While traveling to South America Michelle will build her outdoor lead-climbing skills in Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Paul Koubek: $500

Paul and climbing partner Breezy Jackson have progressed from big wall novices to Yosemite Valley veterans. Now they both dream of climbing in the greater ranges and have ultimate classic goals of Ham and Eggs and Shaken, Not Stirred in the Ruth Gorge of Alaska. However, neither Paul nor Breezy know how to climb ice. To reach their ultimate climbing goals they seek to develop these skills in Ouray, Colorado during a two-week ice-climbing trip that will culminate in ascents of Gold Rush (WI4) and Stairway To Heaven (WI4).

Ryan Leary: $500

Ryan hopes to take significant steps forward in his climbing experience through a trip to the Fitz Roy Massif in Patagonia. His specific goals include the Whillans-Cochrane on Aguja Poincenot, the Amy-Vidailhet on Aguja Guillamet, the Argentina route on Aguja Mermoz, and El Zorro on El Mojon Rojo. The enormous scale of the Fitz Roy and the degree to which rock, ice, snow, and mixed climbing are integrated will represent a new field of challenges for these experienced climbers.

Brad Lipovsky: $500

Brad will travel to the Alaska Range to climb in Little Switzerland. Specifically he hopes to attempt the Middle Troll of South Face, The Lost Marsupial on The Throne, and the Gargoyle Buttress. These climbs represent a first step into alpine climbing where logistics, weather patterns, ground conditions, and route finding will play a central role. This trip is a learning opportunity and a stepping-stone towards his ultimate goal of climbing the Cassin Ridge of Denali.

McKenzie Long: $500

McKenzie hopes to increase her mountaineering experience through a series of ascents in the Alaska Range based around the Kahiltna Glacier. Specific goals include the Southwest Ridge of Mt. Frances, the West Face of Kahiltna Queen, the North Couloir of Mini-Moonflower, and the West Ridge of Mt. Hunter. She hopes to take this experience and one-day tackle the Cassin Ridge of Denali.

Peter McCarthy: $500

Peter will travel, with his partners David Reynolds, Spencer James, and Scott Rinckenberger, to the remote Revelations Range, AK, to seek adventure, service, and education through a ski mountaineering expedition. They will establish a base camp north of Mausolus and explore the numerous opportunities for first ascents and descents in the region. Additionally, they seek a partnership with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to collect snow and bedrock samples for an Iceworm Survey and Extreme Microbe Sampling study, respectively.

Quendallyn Mickelwait: $500

Quendallyn will challenge herself on the Cima Grande Di Lavaredo Comici (5.10c, 16 pitches) in the Italian Dolomites. This goal represents the first step after less than a year of intense training signifying a turning point in her climbing career towards difficult alpine climbing and mountaineering. This project will give her and her partner the opportunity to document and conquer their first big-wall lead on rock not otherwise accessible.

Myles Moser: $1,000

Myles with partners Amy Ness and Hugo Perez are all extremely experienced climbers. They are looking to push their skills to the ultimate level by attempting to establish a second free route up the East Face of the Central Tower of Torres del Paine, Chile. Of nine routes up the Tower, only one has been freed previously, the South African Route (VI 5.12c). Myles and team plan to use the route Un Fina Linea de Locura (VII 5.10d A3, 32 pitches) as a guide and jog in and out of it with certain variations to keep the line clean and free. They will be using a ground-up, capsule-style approach. This dream consists of the hardest route in the toughest environment the team has ever endured.

Lindsay Ryder: $500

Lindsay is hungry for more experience and knowledge of how to climb safely in the backcountry, and to take on longer, more difficult trad routes in a demanding setting. In order to jump in with both feet, she will travel to the Wind River Range of central Wyoming to climb longer and more difficult gear routes than she has attempted in the past. Her and her climbing partner’s ultimate goal is a foray into the 5.10 range with ascents of the Southwest Arete of Lost Temple Spire and the Left Southern Wall on Haystack Mountain.

Andrew Manton: $500

Andrew has dreamed of a trip to the Cirque of the Unclimbables, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, for years. He and his team member have worked hard for the past two years to push their grades in gear climbing in the hopes of opening up more opportunities for longer and more remote alpine adventures. Finally feeling strong and prepared for the next step, their plan is an attempt on the Lotus Flower Tower, followed by a six-day pack-rafting float trip out of the Cirque down the Nahanni River.

The Live Your Dream Grant in the Western Region is supported locally by Touchstone Climbing and Fitness. The winners were selected by a volunteer committee consisting of Abbey Smith, Jeff Snyder, Hans Florine, Pete Athans, Tony Yeary, and Western Regional Manager Jeff Deikis.


Angela Tomczik: $600

Angela’s dream will take her to the Beckey-Chouinard route on South Howser Tower in the Bugaboos with partner Emily Matherly. This route will combine her experience with long rock routes, snow travel, multi-day climbs, and mountain navigation in a way she has never experienced before. In a committing setting requiring a multitude of skills for snow and rock terrain, this area will push the her comfort zone and serve as an opportunity to progress as a climber and an alpinist.

Jeff Dobronyi: $800

Jeff and partner Brian Campbell are planning a ski-mountaineering trip to Rogers Pass, British Columbia. They plan on taking on four large objectives at Rogers Pass: Mt. Tupper via the Lens Couloir, Youngs Peak Traverse via the Illecillewaet Glacier, the Youngs Peak headwall, and Seven Giants Steps. The goal is to be completely comfortable and efficient on multi-day technical ski-mountaineering objectives.

Sibylle Hechtel: $750

Sibylle hopes to become the oldest person to climb the Nose of El Capitan in a day. Sibylle was part of the first all-women team to climb El Capitan in 1977, and is seeking to up her big-wall speed-climbing skills and to inspire folks of any age to live their dream. When Sibylle last climbed El Cap she used hexes and nuts for aid (cams had not been invented yet), and she is thrilled for the challenge of learning new strategies for moving fast.

Travis Drake: $850

Travis is a graduate student of carbon microbiology and has spent the last four summers in the Arctic lowlands of Alaska and Siberia doing fieldwork with a backdrop of the mountains of the Alaska Range. This summer he seeks to complete two seldom-climbed routes: the North Ridge of Mt. Brooks and the Northeast Spur on Mt. Mather, finally switching places and looking down on the lowlands of his fieldwork from these formidable summits. This trip will represent Travis’ climbing dreams coming full circle, finally able to dedicate himself 100% to his climbing objectives.

The winners of the Rocky Mountain Region Live Your Dream Grant were selected by a volunteer committee consisting of Chris Weidner, Blaker Summers, Lee Jenkins, Pat Gioannini, and former AAC Rocky Mountain Regional Manager Jenn Flemming.


Daniel Brazil: $500

Daniel wants to establish a first ascent in the Cloud Peak Wilderness Mountain Range in Wyoming to honor Todd Skinner and Paul Piana. As Daniel approaches 50 years old he has set into motion a plan to climb 50 inspiring ascents by the time he reaches that age. By documenting this journey on his website, climb50x50.com. Daniel hopes to inspire others to reach for their own adventure.

Eric Carter: $300

Eric and his partner Nick Elson are experienced climbers and skiers attempting a new speed record on the Liberty Ridge of Mt. Rainer. While the only known record is around 21 hours for ascent and descent back to White River campground, these two are shooting for a new record of less than 10 hours. They will ascend Liberty Ridge and ski descend the Emmons Glacier route with two teams of safety support.

Ronald Schilb: $200

Ronald has only four of the 50 state high points left to climb. After being thwarted on two separate trips to Gannett Peak in Wyoming he’s asking for support in returning to complete his highpoint goal. With all team members over the age of 60, this group is keeping the dream alive by still seeking adventure and pushing themselves in the outdoor world.

James Schroeder: $500

James wants to make the first ascent of at least one new Grade III or IV traditional alpine rock route in the remote cirques surrounding Black Tooth in the Bighorn Mountains of north-central Wyoming. Over a decade ago, James made several trips to this pristine alpine area of the Bighorns and dreamed about one day making it back. A full-time job and life overshadowed his climbing life until James scoped an online copy of the 1934 American Alpine Journal a few years ago and was re-inspired by a description of the Black Tooth area.

Sarah Micheels: $500

Sarah has climbed indoors for two years and is ready to take her climbing outdoors. Before embarking on an outdoor climbing adventure, she wants to learn proper climbing technique and safety skills. Her plan includes taking a five-day climbing course that will equip her with real hands-on skills in anchor building, lead sport climbing, and following multi-pitch routes.

The following AAC staff members volunteered to make up the Central Region selection committee for 2014: Philip Swiny, Whitney Bradberry, Craig Hoffman, Dana Gerschel, and Central Region Manager Adam Peters.


Daniel Chen: $700

Daniel with his partner Ryan Mateyko plan to climb Mt. Rainier via Liberty Ridge. Dan and Ryan have been climbing partners since meeting at the Boston Rock Gym in 2008. Together they have developed their climbing skills among the crags, boulders, and mountains of New England. They are ready to take their experiences out West and meet the challenge of their dream climb: a classic, technical route on Rainier. Dan and Ryan will complete a photo journal and trip report from their experience, hoping to share their story of two self-described weekend warriors who started in a gym and through dedication and strong partnership, have reached a level of climbing challenging routes in the big mountains.

Brandon Martin: $700

Brandon dreams of attempting new routes in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. Brandon’s dream is to find an independent unclimbed line and see it through to establishing a new route. He’s identified an underexplored area of the Sawtooths and he’s going to spend a trip there this summer focusing on reaching this next level of his climbing experience.

Hanna Lucy: $1,000

Hanna with her partner, Alexa, plan to climb the Regular Route on Half Dome in a day. Hanna and Alexa share a dream of becoming competent, well-rounded climbers. They have spent their years out of college dedicated to building their skills in New England, and they are ready to step up to the next level of the long, committing routes of Yosemite Valley.

Zeb Engberg: $1,200

Zeb wants to climb the Cassin Ridge on Denali. Zeb began climbing by following his father up the slabs on Cannon Cliff. By the time he was a teenager, he had become a stand-out in the world of sport climbing, bouldering, and competition climbing. Over the past six years, Zeb has shifted his focus to ice climbing, alpine climbing, and big-wall climbing. Zeb describes the Cassin Ridge as a culminating experience, a chance to use all the skills he has been building.

Griffin Biedron: $200

Griffin with partners Gregory Deutsch and Lincoln Heath dream to accomplish a human-powered link-up of three classic climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire: Recompense on Cathedral Ledge, the Whitney Gilman on Cannon Cliff, and Pinnacle Buttress on Mt. Washington. They will attempt to link these three routes together entirely via human power—by biking, hiking, and canoeing between objectives—and finish at their starting point within 48 hours. This project represents Griffin’s dream of pushing his multi-pitch climbing skills and physical endurance with a big adventure among his home mountains. The Live Your Dream grant will help cover bike and canoe rental costs for their New England adventure.

Christopher Desir: $700

Christopher wants to bring members of his urban high school climbing team bouldering and camping at the Gunks. Since becoming an afterschool programmer and teaching assistant at a public charter school in New Haven, Christopher has channeled his passion for climbing into developing a program to introduce climbing to high school students. Christopher describes a shift in his climbing motivations since working with kids: “I am less concerned with pushing grades and my ‘limits’ and more concerned with modeling a healthy relationship to this activity I’ve grown to love.” This grant will help Christopher live his dream of introducing the world of bouldering outdoors and camping in the Gunks with a group of kids who rarely get to leave the city.

Stephen Scott: $500

Stephen plans to bring his family of four, including two kids age 14 and 10, into the Wind River Range of Wyoming with a goal of climbing Gannett Peak, Turret Peak’s East Ridge route, and Mt. Warren’s Northwest Buttress. This project represents a progression and dream for this family who always climbs together, despite their son’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

The Northeast Live Your Dream Grant is locally supported by the Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival. The following volunteers made up the grant committee for 2014: Carolyn Riccardi, Mark Synnott, Pete Ward, Freddie Wilkinson, and former AAC Northeast Regional Manager Sarah Garlick.


Cindy Maloney: $800

Cindy plans to climb Mt. Rainer via the Kautz Route surrounding her 52ndbirthday this summer. As a dedicated single mom, Cindy is no stranger to sacrifice and dedication; this trip is will be the culmination of her training and commitment to climb a big mountain in pursuit of her own dream.

Billy Brown: $800

Billy’s objective is to climb an all-free ascent of the Salathe Wall (VI 5.13b) on El Capitan. With experience and grit, Billy embraces the challenge and perseverance required to climb big walls in Yosemite. This trip will progress him as a climber, push his physical and mental limits, and drive him to return to the Valley until he succeeds in his objective.

Matthew Morris: $800

Matthew’s dream is to traverse the Fitz Roy skyline in Argentine Patagonia, establishing a variation to the existing route El Zorro on Mojon Rojo’s west face. Matthew hopes to “add to climbing, to give back in a way equal to how much I have benefitted from the efforts of others, and to explore new terrain with skills I have honed through climbing other routes.”

Mike Dannhardt: $612

Mike and his team will spend two weeks in and around Denali with the objective of summiting a couple alpine-style ridges and/or peak objectives. With glaciated mountain travel, ski mountaineering with sleds, and establishing several camps at elevations up to 14,000 feet, this trip will refine the team’s technical mountaineering skills.

Sheila Reddy: $612

Sheila Reddy and her husband Tim will travel to Patagonia for their objective of climbing Comseña-Fonrouge on the Northwest Ridge of Aguja Guillaumet in the Fitz Roy Massif. This trip will be the culmination of years of experience and training resulting in a rock-solid foundation of their skills and climbing partnership.

Kidder Aspiring Alpinist Award ($1,000) is also awarded to Sheila Reddy. In preparation for their trip to Patagonia, training in glacier travel and crevasse rescue will be important to help them accomplish their dream. Formal training through the American Alpine Institute’s course Alpinism 2-Intermediate Mountaineering will increase the team’s chance for success while building on their alpine-climbing foundation.

Cole Casserly: $612

Cole’s objective is to onsight the Incredible Hulk in the eastern Sierra via the Venturi Effect and Solar Flare with his climbing partner, Adam Tripp. Cole’s climbing dreams have shifted to focus more on consistent high-level performance, rather than climbing at his absolute limit.

Kenny House: $612

Kenny’s objective is an alpine-style ascent of Liberty Ridge on Mt. Rainier. The terrain will be primarily snow and glacier travel, along with several hundred feet of WI1–WI2 climbing. Kenny says: “Mt. Rainier will provide firm tests to my fitness and climbing skills, and I look forward to rising to the challenges and expanding my skill sets further.”

Dominic Metcalf: $612

Dominic dreams of climbing the Comici Route on Cima Grande di Lavare and the Cassin Route on the Piz Badile in the Italian Dolomites and Swiss Alps. Dominic and his partner will spend time climbing routes in the limestone peaks of Cinque Torri, Tofane di Rozes, and ranges near Cortina d’Ampezzo in preparation for their main objectives. Dominic and his partner are kick-starting their ultimate alpine dream of climbing all six of the Great North Faces of the Alps together on this trip.

Maya Zambrano-Lee: $612

Maya will travel to El Potrero Chico, Mexico to climb a series of multi-pitch sport routes with her dad. Tackling multi-pitch sport climbing in a place like El Potrero Chico will be the natural progression in Maya’s climbing career, and will also build on her relationship with her father who lives thousands of miles away.

The Southeast Region Live Your Dream Grant is supported locally by the Kidder Aspiring Alpinist Award. The winners were selected by a volunteer committee consisting of Bryan Simon, Michael Kidder, Rebecca Lem, Danny McCracken, Simon Carr, and Southeast Regional Manager Lisa Hummel.

If you have a clear and strong desire to explore the outdoors and progress your development as a climber, the Live Your Dream grant application period will reopen from January 1 to March 1, 2015.