A.A.C., New York Section

Publication Year: 2012.

New York Section. The New York Section of the AAC is blessed with a strong cadre of committed volunteers who help make it one of the most active and vibrant of the AAC’s regional Sections. Its Annual Black-Tie Dinner has hosted many of the world’s leading alpinists of the last three decades. It has become not only an annual ritual for many out-of- town members, who combine it with a weekend in Manhattan at perhaps the best time of year, but an ongoing financial resource for the Club’s Library and Journal. Our lively blog, nysaac.blogspot.com, ably edited by Conor Moran, is the preferred mode of communication for our members. The blog’s lengthy 2011 archives chronicle several notable indoor and outdoor events: our first Catskills Winter Outing, in February, following our traditional January Outing in Keene, New York; our Annual June Outing at the Ausable Club, which dates back to the early 1980s; and, for the first time in several years, “Olaf’s Outing,” held in September at Olaf and Gitta Soot’s estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. With top ropes set up on the Soot’s private crag, a large swimming pool to tree-dive into and, of course, delectable food and beverage provided by our affable hosts, this was one of our most relaxed and friendly events of the year. Among the many climbers in attendance were our friends from the New York branch of the Korean Alpine Club.

On the climbing front and thanks to the Section blog, we all followed 33-year-old Sophie Denis’ attempt to summit five 8,000m peaks during the calendar year. Chronicling her adventure with daily images and videos, Sophie, a French-born New York banker, quickly climbed Cho Oyu and Lhotse in premonsoon, followed by Broad Peak and a brave attempt on K-2, where she managed to get to Camp IV on the south side. This was as high as anyone succeeded on that side of the peak during this difficult year. A bout of food poisoning kept her off Shishipagma, but she recovered sufficiently to summit Manaslu in October. She is continuing with her quest to summit all the remaining 14 Eight Thousanders by 2014, having already climbed Everest a few years before. A lady with boundless energy and a quick smile, Sophie has endeared herself to the whole international climbing community, and we wish her well in her ambitious efforts.

Finally, our 32nd Annual Dinner departed from the usual Himalayan theme to focus on Switzerland and its Alps. On this subject there was no more appropriate a speaker than John Harlin III, editor of this publication for many years. John embarked on a two-year odyssey to circumnavigate Switzerland by its borders, which journey he completed just a few weeks before the Dinner. Since so much of John’s personal and family history is intertwined with Switzerland and the Eiger, his presentation had a depth and quality that we had rarely seen. Rounding out the program with a short, very inspirational presentation was Dr. Sherman Bull, who helped guide a group of disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to the summit of Lobuche East in an Erik Weihenmayer- led expedition. As Sherman pointed out, this was one of the most personally rewarding expeditions he had ever been on. Last but certainly not least, and abetted by some spirited bidding engineered by our auctioneers, Steve Schofield and Dee Byers, the Dinner raised an all-time record sum for the Journal.

Phil Erard, Chair

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