If you climb regularly and are already a member of American Alpine Club (AAC), you know the value it brings. If you don’t climb regularly, you might be tempted to think the US$75 dues are not worth it for you. Even if you don’t enter the vertical world frequently, your passion for the mountains and the sport will benefit from membership.
I wanted to join in the late 1990s to join the ranks of its members like Bradford Washburn, Charles Houston, Steve House and others. But the dues were expensive for me, when I was still a high school student. Now I am a working professional and a proud member that benefits from the AAC even though I hardly hit the steeps as often as I once did.
The AAC offers climbers a great deal of support, even if you’re the Suburban Mountaineer in Peaklessburg. The AAC works to ensure climbers maintain access to climbing sites in conjunction with the Access Fund and will engage in regulatory advocacy; it was quite active in the negotiated rulemaking in Denali National Park regarding climbing fees this past fall.
The club also has adopted the spirit climbers embrace: Only through adversity and challenge can accomplishment truly be appreciated. The membership ranks are climbers with the same adventurous spirit. We may hike and fly fish, work in cubicles or outfitters, be introverts or extroverts, but we share the desire to solve vertical challenges. And while the name implies alpinism only, today members are boulders, trad climbers, sport climbers, ice climbers and alpinists.
Enjoying mountaineering from my desk and armchair these days and rarely visiting New England’s hills or the Pacific Northwest’s peaks, I enjoy the access it offers to the Henry S. Hall, Jr. American Alpine Club Library, the online issues of the American Alpine Journal, issues of Accidents in North American Mountaineering, invitations to climbing community events in my region or across the country, discounts to huts and lodges, as well as the support the AAC provides to climbers in rescue insurance, conservation efforts (including efforts in Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia) and grants to the truly adventurous members.
I enjoy the network a great deal, but the borrowing privileges at the library and access to the AAJ really impresses me. I considered joining the Friends of the American Alpine Club Library for US$50 in order to borrow books for the Suburban Mountaineer site. With that I would have had to pay shipping from the library and the return postage. And I would not have had access to the AAJ back issues available only to members. The membership dues seemed to be a significant bargain suddenly! With membership, books are shipped to you as part of your dues; you only pay to return them.
If you are not a member already, I recommend it. It might even inspire you.