American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

A.A.C., New York Section

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987

A.A.C., New York Section. After a brief respite for rest and rehabilitation following the Club’s 83rd Annual Meeting, the New York Section continued with a busy schedule of events in 1986. Illustrated lectures were presented by such well known climbing celebrities as Dave Breashears, Gordon Wiltsie, and Rick Ridgeway. In addition Olaf Sööt presented a memorable multi-media slide show commemorating the 50th anniversary of Waddington’s first ascent. These lectures are followed by a social hour, giving members an opportunity to expand their circle of climbing acquaintances.

The Annual Dinner, a black-tie affair at the Union Club, has become the principal event on the Section calendar, regularly attracting a capacity audience of 150 members and guests, many from outside the New York area. This year’s featured speaker was Peter Habeler, Austria’s leading climbing personality. Departing from the usual expedition narrative, Habeler, in a noteworthy address, sought to explain the recent rash of disasters in the Himalayas including the series of accidents on K2 this summer that claimed 13 lives and some of Europe’s finest climbers. Among the causative factors he identified was a general loss of respect for the mountain, leading to an overly casual attitude towards the debilitating effects of remaining at high altitude for long periods of time. Also to blame was the increased prevalence of a self-centered mountaineering ethic which leaves little room for the kind of team spirit demonstrated by the gallant 1953 American K2 Expedition. Finally, solo climbing in the Himalayas is totally reckless, as proved by the death of Renato Casarotto, who perished in a crevasse on K2.

As is customary, the Dinner was run as a fund-raiser for a needy Club cause. This year’s beneficiary was the Library. Proceeds from the affair will be used to expand the collection in a number of important areas including guidebooks, periodicals, and the establishment of the country’s largest and most complete collection of climbing videos. In addition, funds will be used to help preserve and restore the Library’s collection of rare and antiquarian books, a very vital and necessary task.

On the climbing front two especially noteworthy achievements by Section members should be signaled. On October 5 M. Girard (Gerry) Bloch reached the summit of El Capitan by the Nose route as part of a three-person team, thus realizing a long-time goal. At age 68½ Gerry is by far the oldest person to have climbed El Capitan, after having spent four days and three nights on the wall. Another member, Lynn Hill, proved conclusively that she is one of the finest women rock climbers in the world by finishing second in the European Rock Climbing Championships and an easy first in the French Championships at Troubat in the Pyrenees.

Philip Erard, Chairman

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