Southern Appalachian Section. In early 2009 the AAC Sections Committee announced a significant restructuring of the Club’s Southeast Section to divide it into two smaller, more locally focused sections. The Deep South Section would cover Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. The Southern Appalachian Section was established to serve North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. I accepted the role of Chair and was assisted in launching the new section by AAC Ambassadors Max Poppel in Chattanooga and Chad Steiner in Memphis.
The Section’s primary objective in 2009 was to establish itself as relevant to our membership as well as to the broader climbing community across the southern Appalachian mountains. Our membership has more than doubled over the past three years, and our numbers continue to grow. What makes these numbers important is the leverage that growth provides the Section in planning local events. Greater critical mass of membership has provided a much broader range of ways the Club can serve the climbing community locally.
One fine example of leveraging membership growth was the AAC Wilderness First Aid class, delivered in the Raleigh/Durham area. Over the weekend of July 18–19 the Section offered its members a unique opportunity to acquire Wilderness First Aid certification through a class designed for climbers, taught by a climber. The class was attended by 12 of our members. Instructor and AAC member Danny McCracken developed the class to Red Cross WFA certification standards with significant customization to focus on climbing-accident first response. Additional AAC-sponsored WFA classes are planned for 2010.
Another example of a new event in a growing area of the Section was the AAC Last Days of Fall cue, held on November 14 in Memphis. AAC Ambassador Chad Steiner and his wife Jeana hosted a get-together for members and their guests featuring burgers, beer, and climbing films. On a more traditional note, the 5th Annual Eastern North Carolina AAC Barbecue was held on November 14 in Wake Forest, NC. Thirty members and their guests gathered at the home of Brigitte Weston and Keith Nangle to socialize with old climbing partners, meet new ones, and discuss over food and drink how the local AAC community could help one another achieve our climbing goals. The featured speaker was local member Chip Popoviciu, who presented his slides from his 2008 ascent of Mt. Everest.
I would like to thank all of the AAC staff for their support for our Section in our inaugural year. In 2010 the Southern Appalachian Section will focus on recruitment of additional AAC Ambassadors, an increased focus on alpine conservation issues in the Appalachian Range, and the continuing effort to build a strong AAC community across our region.
David Thoenen. Chair