Climbing Grief Grant application period is now open; 10 apps received within first 24 hours

Posted on: February 26, 2020


The application period for the Climbing Grief Grant through the American Alpine Club (AAC) and the Climbing Grief Fund (CGF) is now open. The grant "offers financial support for individuals directly impacted by grief, loss, and/or trauma related to climbing, ski mountaineering or alpinism," according to the webpage.

Climbing Grief Fund Logo

"We received 10 grant applications within the first 24 hours," said Madaleine Sorkin, who has spearheaded the initiative since 2018. "Although we only have 15 grants budgeted for 2020, we welcome people to apply anytime and are actively working to fundraise more. And people are of course welcome to donate."

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The Climbing Grief Fund is a passion project for Sorkin. She explained to Alpinist in an email:

The genesis of CGF, for me...came out of my experience [of] the accumulated grief from losing friends and mentors in my climbing community throughout the 20 years that I've been climbing. This came to a head in 2017 [when] a series of tragedies impact[ed] me more directly and precipitated a personal, deeper journey into grief work (specifically the death of the stranger in the [Wind River Range], in which I walked out with the climbing partner—who was, ironically, on an AAC Live Your Dream Grant; Quinn Brett's traumatic fall on El Cap; and the loss of Inge Perkins and Hayden Kennedy).

Madaleine Sorkin climbing the start of the Scenic Cruise in the Black Canyon on October 2018. [Photo] Henna TaylorMadaleine Sorkin climbing the start of the Scenic Cruise in the Black Canyon, Colorado, October 2018. [Photo] Henna Taylor

Following those experiences, Sorkin recognized that there needed to be a better network for those who survive or witness the inevitable tragedies of the sport. She worked with the American Alpine Club to develop the Climbing Grief Fund and the grant for those affected by accidents or loss in climbing.

According to a recent press release, CGF "acts as a hub to connect individuals to effective mental health professionals and resources," while the grant itself will be disbursed in $600 increments for individual therapy or other professional programs that engage with grief or trauma. As of this writing, there are currently 15 Climbing Grief Grants available for 2020.

Grant applicants may select a therapist or therapeutic program of their choice, or from the robust mental health directory maintained by CGF.

"Offsetting some of the cost of therapy for individuals impacted by climbing-related tragedy was the original idea that pulled me into starting CGF," Sorkin said in the press release, "so it's exciting for me to see these grants become a reality. The grants are a concrete service that we can provide for our community and my hope is that our community quickly uses them up and CGF secures funding to offer more in 2020."

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. All applications will remain confidential. Apply for the grant here.

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