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Southeast Section

Southeast Section. Despite geographic and demographic obstacles, 2007 witnessed a significant renaissance in AAC activity in the Southeast Section. Historically, development of a sense of AAC community within the Southeast has proven difficult. This has been due to the lack of a strong AAC tradition in the region, the Section’s thousand-mile, eight-state sprawl, and a widely dispersed AAC population.

When it announced the new volunteer position of AAC Ambassador in early 2007, the Club provided the means for the Southeast Section to begin to address these challenges effectively. Prototypical implementation of the Ambassador role has significantly strengthened the local AAC presence in several Southeastern communities. With the support of the section chair and the AAC staff in Golden, our vanguard of Ambassadors in 2007 initiated successful local events in Louisville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, and Raleigh.

In June Dr. Martin Klapheke hosted a Louisville dinner for the AAC membership residing in the lower Ohio Valley. AAC president Jim Donini joined members and their guests from Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. While well versed in the perils of mountaineering, Jim learned a few new lessons in the risks of tight itineraries as he managed to miss both of his flight connections on his journey from Colorado to Louisville. He did arrive in time for dessert and delivered a superb presentation on his climbing partnerships with Tackle, Crouch, and other mature climbers.

One of the best examples of the contribution a committed AAC Ambassador can make was a project initiated by Max Poppel in Chattanooga. In October Max and a small team of local members produced “Chattanooga on the Rocks,” an AAC-sponsored weekend of climbing, films, and pizza. Saturday featured bouldering at The Stone Fort, one of the premier bouldering sites in the Southeast. On Saturday evening over 75 members and guests gathered for pizza and a screening of the Reel Rock Tour. Gear raffles and auctions raised over $400 for the AAC general fund. On Sunday frigid temperatures led to a change in plans with a second day of bouldering substituting for the planned day of trad climbing at Sunset Rock. Max has only recently joined the AAC, yet he is committed to seeing that it is visible, viable, and relevant to climbers in the Chattanooga region. He’s a great model for an AAC Ambassador as well as a terrific example of the power of the youth movement in the new AAC.

Also in October, Rick Gromlovits hosted a small barbecue at his home in the Charlotte area for the membership in western North Carolina.

The high point of the year was the September climbing meet at the Table Rock, N.C., Outward Bound Camp. The AAC Board of Directors joined the southeastern AAC community for a well attended weekend of meetings, rock climbing at Table Rock and in the Linville Gorge, and evening dinner presentations. On Friday evening Mark Richey and Steve Swenson shared engaging perspectives on leisure time in the Karakoram. Local climber and humorist Pat Goodman was the featured speaker on Saturday evening. I would like to thank former Director of Operations, Charlie Mace, for his initiative and support in bringing the Board of Directors meeting to the Southeast and the N.C. Outward Bound School for their superb event management.

The Third Annual Eastern North Carolina AAC Barbecue was moved from November to January 12 in order to accommodate members’ fall climbing plans. Thirty-odd (yes, some were exceedingly odd) members and their guests gathered at my home in Raleigh for socializing and good old Carolina barbecue. Dr. Amer Adam, a local member, delivered an entertaining slide show featuring his September visit to the Cordillera Blanca, which resulted in a new route on Nevada Shaqsha with his partner, Shy Rohani.

I would like to formally thank all of the AAC staff, from Phil Powers on down, for their terrific support for the Southeast Section. In 2007 we succeeded in overcoming years of inertia. Our Section’s focus in 2008 will be to build upon our 2007 successes, recruit additional AAC Ambassadors, and continue to build a strong sense of AAC community throughout the Southeast.

Finally, on behalf of the membership, I would like to congratulate North Carolina member Barry “The Gangsta” Myers on his paradigm-shifting, 52-hour solo of the North Wall of Rum Doodle, August 22-24. Wicked, Barry, wicked!!

David Thoenen, Chair