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American Alpine Club announces recipients for Cutting Edge Grants

Posted on: January 22, 2018


The American Alpine Club recently announced that Whitney Clark, Ryan Johnson, Kurt Ross and Alan Rousseau will receive Cutting Edge Grants this year, totaling $20,000. The grants will support expeditions to Alaska, India and Pakistan.

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An AAC press release reads, "The Cutting Edge Grant seeks to fund individuals planning expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world-class pursuits. Objectives featuring a low-impact style and leave-no-trace mentality are looked upon with favor...."

Whitney Clark explores unknown terrain on a peak above Sphinx Lake in Kings Canyon, California. [Photo] Tad McCreaWhitney Clark explores unknown terrain on a peak above Sphinx Lake in Kings Canyon, California. [Photo] Tad McCrea

Whitney Clark is receiving $5,000 to lead an all-female team on a bid for the main summit of the west face of Arjuna (6230m) in India. She and her partners plan to climb "a steep 1400-meter unclimbed buttress, which lies to the left of all current established routes," the AAC reports. "The peak is accessed via a complex icefall, followed by technical high-alpine climbing. It is their goal to climb the route free and operate in a fast, light ethic." Clark has made previous expeditions to India and South America, and often explores new routes in California's Sierra Nevada Range.

Ryan Johnson on Tide Line (WI5, 420m), one of two new ice routes that Johnson and his partners established in Southeast Alaska in 2012. [Photo] Jason NelsonRyan Johnson on Tide Line (WI5, 420m), one of two new ice routes that Johnson and his partners established in Southeast Alaska in 2012. [Photo] Jason Nelson

Ryan Johnson is receiving $3,000 to attempt the east face of Mt. Hayes (4215m) in the Alaska Range. According to the AAC, "Ryan attempted the line in 2013 but extreme cold and illness shut down the expedition. The line on Hayes is primarily an ice hose, with a 600-meter steep mixed section." Johnson has completed several other Alaskan first ascents, including multi-pitch ice routes, and a 14-pitch line on the north face of the West Mendenhall Tower in a 33-hour round trip with Sam Magro in 2008.

Kurt Ross on the French Route of the North Buttress of Begguya (Mt. Hunter), Alaska. [Photo] JD MerrittKurt Ross on the French Route of the North Buttress of Begguya (Mt. Hunter), Alaska. [Photo] JD Merritt

Kurt Ross is receiving $6,000 to attempt the unclimbed peak Karmading Brakk via the Lachit Valley in the eastern Pakistani Karakoram. The 6000-meter peak offers such striking lines that "it certainly would have been attempted earlier had it not been for historically restrictive military control in the area," reads the AAC press release. Ross mentioned to Alpinist that Jess Roskelley is partnering with him for the expedition. Roskelley made the first complete ascent of Mt. Huntington's South Ridge in Alaska with Clint Helander last April. Ross placed in the middle of a talented pack of climbers at the Ouray Ice Fest competition in 2015.

Alan Rousseau leads Pitch 11 on the first ascent of Rungofarka's north ridge, India. [Photo] Tino VillanuevaAlan Rousseau leads Pitch 11 on the first ascent of Rungofarka's north ridge, India. [Photo] Tino Villanueva

Alan Rousseau is also receiving $6,000. He will attempt the remote north face of Chiling II (6400m) in the Himal India. "With a difficult, mostly unsupported approach and hard climbing at altitude, this objective represents a step forward in Alan's climbing and [is] likely one of the harder north faces he and his team have ever attempted," reports the AAC. Rousseau's first visit to India culminated with the first ascent of Rungofarka via the peak's north ridge with Tino Villanueva this past autumn, which entailed 50 pitches of sustained technical climbing up to M6 WI4+.

The American Alpine Club notes:

The Cutting Edge Grant is supported in part by Global Rescue, the world's leading provider of integrated travel risk and evacuation memberships. CEG recipients are additionally awarded a one-year, full Global Rescue Membership—an upgrade to the standard AAC rescue coverage. Upgraded benefits include: $500,000 of rescue evacuation; repatriation back to the US; deployed Global Rescue Personnel; and more—a service intended to help AAC members climb hard and return home safely....

Applications for the Cutting Edge Grant are accepted each year from October 1 through November 30. For more information on Global Rescue and their memberships, click here.

Alpine Club sees record membership

In other Club news, the AAC now has more than 20,000 members—a new benchmark.

"Watching our membership quadruple to 20,000 over the last few years has been a testament to our community and what we can do together," Club CEO Phil Powers said in a press release. "The benefits are great but people stay because they care about sharing knowledge, participating in efforts to conserve our climbing environment, and advocating for the landscapes in which we climb."

About American Alpine Club

The American Alpine Club is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose vision is a united community of competent climbers and healthy climbing landscapes. Together with our members, the AAC advocates for American climbers domestically and around the world; provides grants and volunteer opportunities to protect and conserve the places we climb; hosts local and national climbing festivals and events; publishes two of the world's most sought-after climbing annuals, the American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Climbing; cares for the world's leading climbing library and country's leading mountaineering museum; manages the Hueco Rock Ranch, New River Gorge Campground, Samuel F. Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground, and Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch as part of a larger lodging network for climbers; and annually gives $100,000+ toward climbing, conservation, and research grants that fund adventurers who travel the world. Learn about additional programs and become a member at www.americanalpineclub.org.

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