My membership to the American Alpine Club (AAC) lapsed and I gave my bank account a glance as I crunched the numbers quickly. I let out a groan and let it slide for a few weeks (that turned into a few months, my bad) but today I hopped onto the website to renew. Here’s why:
I’m a climber and an advocate for the outdoors, meaning I care about things like access to public lands. As climbers, we all should. I want to support those who work as an advocate and resource for climbers, and I will continue to do so for as long as I am roping up (and probably many years after).
So why should climbers become American Alpine Club members? The benefits of being a member include discounts on brands and retailers such as Backcountry, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Rock and Snow, and more. Discounts are extended for certain climbing gyms across the country, as well as subscriptions to publications such as Alpinist, Rock and Ice, Climbing, Backpacker, and (my personal favorite) Climbing Zine. Membership also includes Accidents in North American Climbing and The American Alpine Journal–great reports on climbing accidents that educate and inform climbers every year.
You receive discounts at AAC locations including Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch, Snowbird Hut in Alaska, and New River Gorge, Gunks, and Hueco campgrounds. There is an optional AAC member share which is a network used to help you find climbing partners and places to crash–way less creepy than Craigslist (does anybody use Craigslist anymore?)
Another great resource that the AAC offers is The Henry S. Hall Jr. American Alpine Club Library, located in Golden, CO. If you are planning a climbing trip, you can drop in and rent books and videos in preparation for your gnarly send(s). The Library is a wealth of mountain culture, history, rock and ice climbing routes, and so much more.
Price drops and cool swag aside, the AAC is more than just a club of outdoors people. They partner with companies in order to offer climbers insurance packages and rescue benefits (such as Global Rescue Service, which will provide help for those in places with difficult access). Accidents happen when you least expect them to, and it relieves a small amount of stress to be covered for those “just in case” scenarios.
In addition, the AAC is hugely active in the climbing community by dedicating their time to working on access issues, creating an anchor replacement fund initiative, and supporting research projects. The AAC supports members in conservation and research grants, as well as individual expedition grants. Through their grants, they encourage climbers to realize certain dreams and protect the beautiful landscapes we all love to climb in–which at the end of the day, is worth my annual membership.
As outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of adventure, I ask each of you to consider what organizations you support and why–and give to those who are continuously giving back to the outdoor community. The way that I see it, the outdoor community is a large support system, and at the end of the day, we are all a part of that. We are here to support and inspire one another the best that we can–whether it be through a membership, a donation, or education.