American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

A.A.C., New York Section

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

AAC, New York Section. The events of 9/11 here in New York overwhelmed everything else that had transpired before or since in the Section. Virtually everyone knew someone or had friends who were directly affected by the tragedy. Particularly gratifying were the countless letters, phone calls, and e-mails we New Yorkers received from concerned friends from all over the world. September 11 and its aftermath also brought a much needed sense of perspective on the truly important things in life—family and friends—which are sometimes forgotten in the often trivial pursuits of day-to-day existence.

It was with a heightened sense of family, mutual support, and the “fellowship of the rope,” as Gaston Rebuffat so aptly called it, that a record 160 members and guests gathered on September 29 for our 22nd Annual Black Tie Dinner. Fortunately our special guest speaker, Erik Weihenmayer, the 32-year-old blind climber who had recently summited Everest, was clearly up to the task of delivering an inspirational, yet witty, presentation that resonated perfectly with the difficult occasion. Erik spoke of not accepting limitations and of the importance of teamwork in accomplishing difficult goals. To emphasize the point, he was accompanied by the members of his Everest team, whom he had invited from Colorado to share this special moment with him. Also on the program were two other New Yorkers, Sherman and Brad Bull, who were both part of Erik’s team and who also reached the top. At the age of 64 and on his fifth attempt, Sherman set a new age record on the mountain. The Dinner was run as a fundraiser both for the AAC Library and the Twin Towers Fund to benefit needy survivors of the WTC tragedy. Almost $9,000 was raised for both causes, thanks in part to a successful silent auction of climbing equipment, gear, and other valuable items. Finally, we introduced and gently “roasted” 14 new members whom we presented with their membership pins.

In addition, during the year, Section members enjoyed traditional winter and spring climbing outings in the Adirondacks, an organized conditioning hike or two in the Hudson Highlands and Catskills, and a particularly successful “Top Rope” social in the Shawangunks. A crisp October day of 5.7 to 5.11 climbing was followed by a delicious BBQ at Ralph Erenzo’s “Bunks in the Gunks” in nearby Gardiner. The event was organized by Jack Reilly.

In early June the Section co-sponsored Alpinfilm, the 12th annual New York International Mountain Film Festival. A juried competition with cash prizes for winning films, the festival attracts adventure and climbing films from all over the world and serves as a Spring rendezvous for New York’s diverse climbing community. The Rolex Award for best film of the festival went to a French production, The Great Traverse, about the attempt of two French explorers to ski unsupported from Siberia to Canada via the North Pole. A pre-theater cocktail party and dinner preceded the event.

Before closing, we wish to express our sincerest condolences to the families of members Walt Noonan, who lost his son in the WTC tragedy, and Larry Huntington, who lost his brother-in-law there as well. Also we mourn the passing of long-time member Art Peters, who passed away in June at the age of 81. Art was a true Renaissance man, climber, and scholar who had authored books as diverse as a biography of Jean Cocteau and Seven Trails West, about the Lewis and Clark and other great Western expeditions. Art was a close friend of Gaston Rebuffat, translated his works into English, and introduced him at a memorable NY Section Dinner in 1982. He is survived by his wife, Sally, three children, and six grandchildren.

For current information on New York Section events, do log on to our Web site Our webmaster, Vaclav (Vic) Benes, is always on the lookout for new stories and photos. So keep them coming!

Philip Erard, Chair

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