How the American Alpine Club Works

The American Alpine Club allows climbing enthusiasts to share tips and swap stories of their experiences.
The American Alpine Club allows climbing enthusiasts to share tips and swap stories of their experiences.
Heath Korvola/Getty Images

Some daring souls get an adrenaline rush when they ski cross-country, bicycle on rugged terrain or kayak in raging white water. Then there's that special breed of adventurers who risk falls, avalanches, hidden snow caves, altitude illness, extreme cold and the myriad other challenges nature might offer, just to be able to stand on top of a mountain -- and climb back down safely to tell the tale.

Those who love traditional alpine mountaineering can join adventure sports networks that provide information, training, inspiration and support -- and a forum for swapping tales of those experiences. The world's first such mountaineering club, the Alpine Club, got its start in Great Britain in 1857. It now has links with similar groups around the world [source: The Alpine Club].

A group of leading climbers and conservationists in the United States formed the American Alpine Club in 1902 [source: American Alpine Club]. One of the most storied of these founders was Charles Edward Fay, an accomplished linguist and professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts. In his spare time, he loved to climb and to write about climbing [source: Tufts University].

More than 100 years later, the America Alpine Club (AAC) is a thriving nonprofit organization with headquarters in Golden, Colo., and members across the country.

AAC marketing director David Maren insists that his group is more than just an organization that serves climbers. It is, he said, "a community of nearly 9,000 climbers."

"Without our members, there is no club," Maren said [source: Maren].

The AAC's goals include:

  • Protecting mountains around the world, so that there will be places to climb.
  • Inspiring Americans to climb and providing them with needed knowledge and skills.
  • Being an advocate and resource for American climbers wherever they go.
  • Documenting the history of climbing and new accomplishments in the sport.

To these ends, the American Alpine Club publishes a variety of books, journals and reports. One annual report is "Accidents in North American Mountaineering," a roundup of climbing accidents in the United States and Canada, with discussion of what went wrong.

The club doesn't lead climbing expeditions, but it provides much of the support and education needed by those who do. It also organizes events and provides a blog where members can exchange information.

Want to know how to join this lofty club? Read on.