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Southwest Section

Southwest Section. After an extended period of dormancy, the Southwest Section was revitalized in 2005. It began with a formal complaint letter sent to the Club’s headquarters, filled with threats of canceled membership dues, and was replied to with an opportunity for David Rosenstein to assume the reins as Chair. With the help of Ellen Lapham, Sierra Section Chair, the first-in-a-long-while Section event was held in Joshua Tree. It was a film night, with beer and popcorn, and all proceeds were donated to “Friends of Joshua Tree,” a local nonprofit that raises money for JSAR (Joshua Tree Search and Rescue). All seats were full, with people standing in the aisles and in the open windows of this quaint JT venue.

After time spent analyzing the Section and its shaky viability in its preexisting state, attempts were made to reach out to a more diverse audience that may more accurately represent the face of the current climbing community. The result was likely the first-ever AAC sponsored event that focused primarily on bouldering and the young climbers who tackle those incredibly challenging problems. At Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop, we had a full house of young boulderers (and a select group of local alpinists such as John Fischer) who came to drink beer and watch multimedia presentations from Natasha Barnes (top female boulderer), Damon Corso (top bouldering photographer), and a sneak peak at the new bouldering video, Soul Cal, directed by Paul Dusatko.

One of the most exciting developments for the Section and the Club as a whole was the introduction to the Board for a proposed Joshua Tree Climbers Ranch, a walk-in campground situated outside the park boundaries close to the town itself. At the Flagstaff Board meeting $5,000 was committed from the 2005 Budget to help pay for utilities at the Ranch as well as some picnic tables. An extensive due diligence process followed, spearheaded by AAC Past President Jim McCarthy, which involved legal matters as well as a tour of the property in person. At the Annual Meeting in North Conway, New Hampshire, the Board agreed to sign a Letter of Intent to develop and lease the property from the land owner (a local JT climber and Club member, who expects no profit from the arrangement). Furthermore, the Board committed to raise an additional $50,000 as seed money for the project, to be modeled in spirit after the Teton Climbers Ranch. A warm thanks to Ellen and Jim for their efforts to make this possible.

The Section would like to express its relief that R.J. Secor (author of The High Sierra) survived a 1,000-foot fall on the slopes of Mt. Baldy, arguably one of the longest falls possible in Southern California. We hope you continue to heal well, RJ.

Looking ahead, much work remains to be done regarding both Section activities and the Climbers Ranch. It is the hope that these efforts will serve to invigorate the Section and its members as well as the greater regional climbing community, which is truly one of the most extensive bodies of climbers anywhere. Those of you interested in being involved at any level should feel free to contact me at bagtrango@yahoo.com.

David Rosenstein, Chair