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A.A.C., New York Section

AAC, New York Section. The year 1998 will be remembered for a number of significant events. In January, a group of 14 New York Section members and guests journeyed to New Zealand’s South Island for two weeks of trekking, climbing and outdoor pursuits. Under the leadership of Robert and Kathleen Whitby and well-known Kiwi guide Guy Cotter, the group enjoyed superlative weather, excellent creature comforts and great camaraderie on the world-famous Milford Track, which lived up to its reputation as “the finest walk in the world.” A smaller group of climbers then attempted Mount Cook. In threatening weather and hazardous conditions, Joe Di Saverio and Henry Hamlin succeeded in summitting this very serious objective. A few weeks later, in Chilean Patagonia, Ken Kleinberg succeeded on a guided ascent of the 2600-meter North Tower of the Torres del Paine, which involved a 22-hour summit day and climbing up to 5.10.

In addition to these significant group and individual efforts, the Section continued with its long-standing Adirondack Outings, both winter and summer, each attended by about 30 members and guests. This year’s Winter Outing was marked by idyllic, almost short-sleeve weather, while in June the persistent rains managed to hold off long enough so that the Spring Outing became one of the more successful in recent memory. The traditional after-dinner slide shows at the Outings were given by Ed Palen and Willits Sawyer.

In April, the Section sponsored Alpenfilm, the New York International Mountain Film Festival. Now in its ninth year and an annual get-together for the New York climbing community, Alpenfilm is a juried competition offering cash prizes to winning filmmakers. This year’s top award for Best of Festival went to Lynn Hill’s Free Climbing the Nose, while the prize for the Best Film on Climbing went to a New Zealand film, The Fatal Game. The People’s Choice award went to Rick Ridgeway for a film on a spectacular first ascent in Antarctica. Before the screenings, members, guests, jury and filmmakers convened for a dinner and reception that benefited the Golden Clubhouse Fund.

In October, the Section hosted its 19th Annual Black Tie Dinner and Gala with famed British author/climber Joe Simpson as special guest speaker. A capacity audience of 140 members and guests listened in rapt attention to Joe’s epic story of survival and courage in the Peruvian Andes related in the best seller Touching the Void. Before the main event, Section member William Rom told of his adventures on the China/Tibet border climbing Mount Gelandaintong, source of the Yangtze River. The evening benefitted the Library Computerization Fund. Later that month, the Section co-sponsored a slide show, cocktail reception and book signing by Rick Ridgeway at the Patagonia store in lower Manhattan.

Besides the above, a variety of informal hikes and other weekend events were organized in the spring and fall by members John Tiernan, John Palutis and Earlyn Church. Also worthy of note was a May New Zealand night at the Explorers Club where members of the 1998 Expedition mentioned above recounted their adventures, followed by a reception featuring an excellent assortment of New Zealand wines and cheeses graciously provided by the New Zealand Tourist Promotion Board.

Thanks to the efforts of the Sierra Nevada Section and our own web master, Vaclav (Vic) Benes, the Section now has its own web site, nys.alpineclub.org. We hope this will introduce the Section to prospective members as well as furnishing up-to-the-minute news of our activities to the local membership.

Philip Erard, Chairman