AAC, Sierra Nevada Section. In 2000, the Sierra Nevada Section offered members a variety of ways to network with other climbers and shape changes affecting Yosemite National Park.
We kicked off the year with a well-attended Section Dinner in Berkeley in January. R.D. Caughron regaled us with a slide show on classic Canadian climbs he has enjoyed in years past. Hans Florine wowed the audience with his documentary on speed climbing both El Capitan and Half Dome in one day. Greg Mortenson followed with an inspiring presentation on his work to establish, with support from the AAC membership, a series of schools and community projects in Baltistan. Tom and Joyce Frost also attended, adding special fun to the evening.
In March, we celebrated the publication of Ascent with AAC Authors’ Night at the new Berkeley Ironworks gym. Steve Roper, Allen Steck, John Hart, and Daniel Duane were among the noted authors attending to sign their books.
Later in the spring, we enjoyed a special presentation by the National Park Service on the Merced River Plan being developed for Yosemite National Park. David Siegenthaler, an environmental-resources and visitor-experience expert, described the huge challenges faced in Yosemite. He gave us insights into Park planning processes and pointed out ways we can help shape that process with our constructive input.
The impact of such input was clearly demonstrated in a vindicating moment of ironic turnabout at the end of March. With great fanfare and press coverage, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt appeared in San Francisco on March 30 to announce the new Draft Yosemite Plan. During his presentation, Mr. Babbitt went out of his way to personally recognize and thank the “Camp 4 climbers” for effectively slowing down and improving the planning process through our lawsuit and subsequent efforts. At the press conference after his speech, the AAC was asked to speak (Dick Duane represented us) about our experiences with this process and our views about the Draft Yosemite Valley Plan. Throughout the commenting period and the rest of the year, we worked continuously with the NPS to help shape plans in Yosemite that might affect the climbing community.
One very visible and enduring way we proved our commitment to Yosemite was the completion of a new Wilderness Access Building in Tuolumne Meadows. Under the leadership of George Gluck, this structure was built almost entirely by volunteers, principally our Section’s Volunteers in Parks (VIP) and the local Backcountry Horsemen Association. AAC members took advantage of free park entry and camping in Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows during the year through our ongoing VIP program. An expanded slate of VIP programs is planned for the coming year. To take advantage of this ongoing program, contact George (George@alpineclub.org; phone 408-623-2331) for details.
November again allowed the Club to enjoy national press coverage. We were invited to speak at Bruce Babbitt’s press conference in Yosemite Valley announcing the completion of the Yosemite Valley Plan. We were joined by representatives from the Wilderness Society, NRDC, NPCA, Yosemite Restoration Trust, and others who have been actively engaged in supporting the collaborative planning process. But our work continues on this front, and we remain in close contact with Park officials as details of the Plan are considered and implemented.
November also brought the Section great cause for celebration at the Annual Meeting in Denver. Jim Bridwell was honored as co-recipient, with Annie Whitehouse, of the Robert and Miriam Underhill Award. And long-time UIAA delegate Eliza Moran was awarded the Angelo Heilprin Award. These award winners reflect our Section’s ongoing commitment to excellence and hard work for the world’s climbing community.
We rang out the year with a fun and vibrant Section meeting at the showplace home of one of the Section’s high-tech wizards, Steve Spurrier. Steve Schneider took over the Chairmanship from Lynn Bamford and announced a slew of events planned for 2001. Sierra Nevadans look forward to another year of opportunities to have fun and help the climbing community.