American Alpine Club moves forward with its Climb United Initiative with a public forum April 21

Posted on: April 16, 2021


The American Alpine Club (AAC) announced the formation of their Climb United initiative in February of this year. In March, Alpinist participated in a meeting of the Climb United Route Naming Task Force, which was formed to try "to build the best publishing practices to avoid harm caused by discriminatory or oppressive route names," according to the AAC's website.

The AAC press release reads:

The American Alpine Club is proud to announce Climb United, a new initiative centered around convening climbers, climbing organizations, and industry brands to transform the culture around inclusivity. Current partners of the Climb United project include REI, Eddie Bauer, adidas Outdoor, Mammut, The North Face and Patagonia.

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They are excited to launch the program with a draft of Principles and Guidelines for Publishing Climbing Route Names developed by the Route Name Task Force, composed of a group of publishers and climbing community members. The Guiding Principles will serve to establish an agreed-upon philosophy toward publishing climbing route names, while the Guidelines provide an evaluation and management system for addressing discriminatory route names. The AAC will host a public forum on the draft guidelines on April 21 at 6 p.m. MDT to engage the community and encourage questions and feedback. You can also provide feedback on the draft guidelines via this survey.

Participants in the working group include Alpinist, Climbing, the Climbing Zine, Gripped, Mountain Project, Mountaineers Books, Sharp End Publishing, and Wolverine Publishing.

Climb United graphic

In February of this year, the AAC surveyed climbers and found that over 82% of respondents believe it is important that the climbing community address diversity and inclusion within the sport. Additionally, over 77% of respondents believe it is important to address discriminatory route names to make climbing more welcoming to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, age, range of abilities, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

AAC CEO Mitsu Iwasaki described the importance of the Climb United project: "Our climbing culture, which I have been a part of and contributor to for nearly 30 years, has, without mal-intent, created spaces that have been hurtful and uninviting to many. I am grateful through Climb United, we (brands, publishers, and climbers) have come together with an abundance of humility to engage in difficult and necessary conversations to evolve, elevate, and ensure a vibrant future for climbing."

The AAC recently hired Climb United Director Cody Kaemmerlen to help guide the project. Kaemmerlen shared his excitement about joining the initiative as the Climb United Director: "I'm honored to serve the climbing community that I care so deeply for and to help all folks find their way to this sport. The crags, mountains, and remote summits continue to bring me a lifetime of memories and relationships. I understand the enormity of the barriers that exist, and I'm excited to push extra hard to help break them down."

Climbers can also follow along with Climb United's progress via a timeline of past projects and future goals.

Learn more about Climb United [including links to "Draft Principals + Guidelines," "Route Name Guidelines" and a survey and public forum] at climbunited.org.

Climb United logo

About The 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 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 five campgrounds as part of a larger lodging network for climbers; and annually gives $80,000+ toward climbing, conservation, and research grants that fund adventurers who travel the world. Learn about additional programs and become a member at americanalpineclub.org.

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