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American Alpine Club hosting the Excellence in Climbing Celebration on June 1


The American Alpine Club is hosting its annual Excellence in Climbing Celebration on June 1 at its headquarters in Golden, Colorado. This year features a block party format instead of a gala. Tickets start at $20.

The day starts off with the party from 3 to 7 p.m. A VIP Patron reception is from 6 to 7 p.m., and at 7:30 p.m. Laura Waterman and Ken Yager will be inducted into the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence. Kelly Cordes–this year’s recipient of the H. Adams Carter Literary Award–will deliver the keynote address.

“We completely revamped the event!” said AAC Senior Events Manager Heidi McDowell, referring to the outdoor festivities, which will feature carnival games and an open-air vendor village with food trucks and beer. There will also be opportunities to attend climbing workshops hosted by the AAC’s education team and tours of the Mountaineering Museum.

As with past events, there will be a raffle and silent auction to benefit the Henry S. Hall American Alpine Library and the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum. A press release for the event reads:

Established in 1916, the AAC Library has long been a launchpad for expeditions, a place to share stories, and a resource to inspire the future and protect the past. With the addition of the American Mountaineering Museum in 2009, these artifacts found a home where anyone–from the most seasoned Everest climber to the third-grader with her first harness–can soak in the stories of the past.

The AAC webpage for the event explains the significance of the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence:

Inductees come from all disciplines; mountaineering, rock, ice and mixed. Inductees have had a significant impact on climbing history, but have also made contributions of meaning in other areas relating to the mountains and their vibrant communities. The multi-dimensional inductees have made lasting contributions in the areas of culture, environmental responsibility, community, the arts and sciences–ultimately making the world a better place. And now we celebrate the 2019 inductees and their legacies!

Laura Waterman climbing at Whitehorse, Yukon. [Photo] Ken Hopper

Laura Waterman climbing at Whitehorse Ledge, New Hampshire. [Photo] Ken Hopper

Laura Waterman–As a climber, conservationist and author, Laura Waterman climbs and writes about the mountains. Together with her late husband, Guy, the Watermans’ authored books covering climbing, hiking, environmental ethics, and mountain history. In 2002, Laura founded The Waterman Fund grants program to support trail work, stewardship, education, and research.

Ken Yager–Ken Yager, a climbing guide and founder of the Yosemite Climbing Association, loves Yosemite. In 2004, he started the [Yosemite] Facelift, a nonprofit responsible for removing over 1 million pounds of garbage from the park. The event continues to be the largest volunteer cleanup in park history.

Ken Yager on Freestone in Yosemite. [Photo] Kevin Worral

Ken Yager on Freestone in Yosemite. [Photo] Kevin Worral

Waterman is quoted in the press release: “The conservation work Guy and I did in the mountains came naturally, like climbing. It was just something we felt strongly about and it was important, more than that, essential, to spread the word. Frankly, I think–I hope–all climbers feel this way about their favorite places, the [places] that keep us sane.”

Waterman wrote an essay for Alpinist 61 (Spring 2018) titled “On Becoming a Mountain Steward,” which can be found here.

Yager is also quoted in the press release: “As a young climber I read about the adventures of Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Arlene Blum, Fred Beckey, Yvon Chouinard, Richard Leonard, and many of the others that have received this award. To be included with my climbing heroes is an honor that is hard for me to fathom.”

Keynote speaker Kelly Cordes was selected for the H. Adams Carter Literary Award last December. The award will be presented to him at Saturday’s celebration. Cordes edited the American Alpine Journal for 12 years and published his first book, The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre, in 2014. That book was selected as the winner of the Mountain and Wilderness Literature award at the 2015 Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival as well as a National Outdoor Book Award. Cordes also co-wrote Tommy Caldwell’s 2017 memoir, The Push. Cordes’ writing has appeared in publications ranging from climbing magazines to the New York Times. (He reports that his “first-ever” long-form feature article, “Painted Blue,” appeared in Alpinist 3.) Past recipients of the Carter Award include Alpinist Editor-in-Chief Katie Ives, David Roberts, John Long, Bernadette McDonald and Alison Osius. A complete list can be found here.

To buy tickets or get more information about the American Alpine Club’s Celebration of Excellence on June 1, visit the AAC’s webpage here.

Kelly Cordes climbing Fitz Roy in Patagonia. [Photo] Craig Scariot

Kelly Cordes climbing Fitz Roy in Patagonia. [Photo] Craig Scariot