A.A.C., New York Section

Publication Year: 2004.

AAC, New York Section. The New York Section, with membership now exceeding 700 in the Tri-State Area, tries to appeal to a broad cross section of members with a variety of outdoor climbing and indoor social events.

Activities invariably commence in late January with our Annual Adirondack Winter Outing, now entering its second decade. The winter of 2002-03 will be long remembered here in the East as one of the coldest and snowiest on record. As a result a capacity gathering of around 35 members and guests, both old and new members, were on hand to ice climb, snowshoe, and ski in almost ideal conditions in Keene, New York. For many, the chance to be with friends in an isolated, beautiful environment sharing intense experiences followed by a well-deserved cocktail hour and dinner makes it an annual ritual not to be missed. It also provides the opportunity for members to pair up and seek adventures farther afield. Such was the case of Todd Fairbairn and Howard Sebold, who met at the Outing and planned a successful expedition to Katahdin later in March. They recounted their adventure at a slide show co-hosted by the Section in the North Face store in Manhattan a few months later.

In the fall, we once again returned to the Gunks, where Jack Reilly and John Tiernan organized simultaneous outings and, a week later, to the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks for a weekend of climbing and hiking. As in the past, the historic Ausable Club was our base of operations. Despite the area being one of the East’s oldest venues, spectacular new routes, such as on the South Face of Gothics (5.9-5.11), are constantly being discovered and opened up.

May and June were busy months. First we began with a party at the Brooklyn Brewery to benefit the Ascent Program, which teaches inner city kids to climb. In June we combined culture with climbing in the Hudson Highlands. After hiking in the Breakneck-Taurus area of Cold Spring, we attended a live, one-man stage show Willi about the life of the legendary climber Willi Unsoeld.

Finally, in November, we held our 24th Annual Black Tie Dinner. As usual, the event draws a capacity crowd of members and guests from around the country drawn by the presence of a celebrity speaker plus the opportunity to renew old friendships and make new ones. This year Peter Hillary was the special guest and spoke about his experiences on K2 in 1995, where good judgment in turning back just short of the summit no doubt saved his life. A riveting speaker, Peter stressed the need to rely on one’s informed judgment and not be swayed by group psychology. On that expedition, Peter lost six of his teammates, including Alison Hargreaves, Britain’s most successful woman high altitude mountaineer. In a change of pace and mood from Hillary’s talk, Mark Richey, new President of the Club, discussed and showed slides of Huayllay, a remarkable, pristine rock climbing area about seven hours from Lima in Peru. Among the new faces were 14 new members who were introduced, gently “roasted,” and presented their membership pins. One of these, Britton Keeshan, is close to his goal of being the youngest person, at age 22, to attain the seven summits: only Everest remains.

The dinner benefited the American Alpine Journal and the AAC Library. Over the years, this event has raised well over $100,000 for these and other AAC causes.

Special thanks go to our volunteer hosts, event leaders, and speakers, in particular Vic Benes, Chris Galligan, John Tiernan, Bob Hall, Jack Reilly, Richard Ryan, and Richard Wiese, in addition to others already mentioned above. Vic also doubles as our webmaster. For information on goings-on in the Big Apple, check out http://nysalpineclub.org.

Sadly we mark and mourn the loss of two of our members, David Boyd Brown and Peter Hodgson Wood. David, a member for 22 years, died as the result of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident. Peter, a member since 1951, was the son of former AAC President Walter Wood and served on the AAC Board in the 1980’s.

Philip Erard, Chair