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Guiding Principles


To support our shared passion for climbing and respect for the places we climb.


A united community of competent climbers and healthy climbing landscapes.

Core Values

Authoritative climbing information, knowledge and resources benefit and inspire us and future generations.
Advocacy and leadership advance our climbing interests and promote conservation.
Community and competence strengthen and embolden us to push our limits.

Purpose of Volunteer Program

To engage and empower volunteers toward success in a manner that supports the American Alpine Club and the greater climbing community.

Regions & Sections

Dave Giacomin


I have been a member of the AAC for the past 5 years. I was given the opportunity to give back to the climbing community when I asked to join as the section cochairman for the Washington, DC section. It is rewarding to me to have a blast climbing and socializing with fellow climbers, and share the climbing leadership the AAC has to offer with them. I look forward to the journeys we will go on as a club and strong climbing community.

Jeff Rueppel


I joined the AAC in 2006 before what seemed like a fairly sketchy ski mountaineering trip to New Zealand’s Southern Alps for all the great membership benefits. But beyond that, supporting the AAC for me is about bringing the tribe together. Whatever the passion and the purpose – bouldering, sport, trad, committing big mountain project, or just fun – the AAC is all of those groups joined as one voice and one community. When you see me, I’ll probably have a camera in-hand, whether on foot, ropes, or skis. I photograph regularly at AAC events across the West and will be shooting the Valley Facelift and the Highball Classic this year.

Jonathon Braud


I started volunteering in February of 2014. I volunteer because I wanted to get involved with the climbing community in the Front Range and meet more climbers in the area. I am excited about where the club is heading because they are doing so much to help the climbing community grow while still bringing it closer together. They’re not only working on a national level, but also bring international climbers together in events like the International Climber’s Meet in Yosemite. I keep volunteering my time because it’s a great way to stay plugged in on upcoming events and I enjoy supporting my passions. I highly recommend giving some of your time to your local organization. The payback is extremely valuable. For me, it’s memories I’ll share for a lifetime.

Our Volunteer Story

Volunteers are the backbone and lifeblood of the American Alpine Club. Since our founding in 1902 volunteerism has guided every major idea, decision, effort, and achievement. We are an organization founded, influenced, and supported by dedicated and competent volunteer leaders.

Today, volunteers edit the American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Mountaineering, serve on the Board of Directors, coordinate our Annual Benefit Dinner, and administer our grants. Section Chairs oversee all initiatives serving members locally, including Section Benefit Dinners, Send & Social gatherings, and eventually our Craggin’ Classics Series.

We, as a club, are guided by a vision of a united community of competent climbers and healthy climbing landscapes. To get there, we rely upon a united corps of volunteers who take initiative, get involved, and make many individual strides—small and large—to serve their climbing communities and environments. Together we are stronger.



In order to be successful, recruiting is necessary to build the right crew. New club members are often eager and willing to take on volunteer opportunities. The AAC relies on volunteers to step in and get their hands dirty. Some volunteers have taken on their own events, or joined a national committee. With support from Regional Managers and the Regional Welcomer, you can build a reliable network of helping hands.


Take the time to help volunteers understand their roles and responsibilities. Some people can dive right in, but others may need more information. The club will provide training for volunteer positions through the National Volunteer Leadership Summit, the Guidebook to Volunteerism and MailChimp guideline training. On the ground training for volunteers will be provided by Section Chairs, with coordination and support from Regional Manager.


Engagement is the responsibility of Section Chairs and Regional Managers. Volunteers can be engaged on a national and local level through matching interests and skills with a variety of opportunities. Engagement also looks like developing a relationship with your crew by regularly checking in and following up with them. Get to know your volunteers, figure out what keeps them coming back. The ultimate goal of engagement is to have volunteers be empowered in their roles and to foster leadership.


Thank volunteers early and often. Show them how much you appreciate their hard work. Verbally thanking your volunteers is the first order of business. And, after, and if appropriate, toss them a little swag. Event kits and the Golden office will supply you with cool, blank thanking cards to hand write notes after events.

Volunteer Opportunities

From serving on a national committee, to pouring beer for a Send and Social, we aim to strengthen our community through volunteerism. The AAC has several awesome ways to get involved. Some volunteer jobs have long-term leadership opportunities, while other positions are for a day, or an event.

The Section Chair

With the help of the club, Section Chairs are the face of the AAC who fulfil the mission to serve and support fellow members. The Section Chairs are the go-to leadership and role model of a successful section. They are the primary contact for, and interface with, all members in their section. Some sections have Co-Chairs who work together to help organize events and recruit volunteers. Regional Managers and Section Chairs work closely together to deliver the AAC mission and support their volunteers.

Section Chair Responsibilities

  • Assisiting Regional Managers in working with the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service and National Park Service for stewardship projects.
  • Maintaining section Facebook pages and section websites.
  • They will also work closely with their Regional Manager on section budgets and provide them with written reports.
  • Contact the Volunteer Coordinator in Golden for event kits and some SWAG items.
  • Organizing and tabling events within the Section with the assistance of volunteers.
  • Recruiting and coordinating their own army (committees) of volunteers, training them and helping maintain enthusiasm.
  • Thanking volunteers during and after events.
  • Creating and maintaining relationships with Local Climbing Organizations (LCO).

Regional Staff Support

Section Chairs can expect their regional staff to:

  • Provide the training needed to achieve volunteering goals.
  • Listen and be responsive to support needs, volunteering goals, and ideas.
  • Provide existing marketing and outreach tools to serve as an ambassador of the club.
  • Help troubleshoot membership issues and answer membership questions.
  • Provide infrastructure support including nonprofit documentation, risk management procedures, and event budget approval and reimbursement.

Succession & Term Limits

A successful Section Chair will be regularly thinking about who they can recruit to replace themselves. When looking for a successor, look for traits in a person that also help them be successful. They should care about the AAC, as well as the mission and vision of the club. They should be driven, self-motivated and able to communicate effectively and fairly with others. Many Section Chairs find their most productive time between 3-5 years.

Volunteer Committees

Cornerstone Conservation Grant

The Cornerstone Conservation Grant awards money to fund projects at climbing areas around the country. Each region will have one representative on the National Cornerstone Committee. The responsibilities of committee members include: working with AAC staff and other committee members to promote the grant, evaluate applications and participate in the selection process. Regional Cornerstone Committee members will work with Regional Managers to identify pertinent projects in their area and solicit Requests for Proposal (RFP).

Live Your Dream Grant

The Live Your Dream grant is a nationally funded grant that is distributed regionally. The purpose of these grants are to help climbers achieve their climbing dreams, regardless of experience or climbing genre.

Live Your Dream Committee Chair

The LYD Committee Chair assists with all aspects of the Regional Live Your Dream program, including but not limited to: marketing the grant regionally, selecting and interacting with LYD committee members, constructing the grant selection grading sheet, reading all incoming grant applications, communicating with all grant applicants before, during, and after the grant selection process, narrowing grant pool for the regional selection committee, making the final call on grant recipients and award amounts, announcing and publicizing grant winners, contacting non-recipients and staying in touch with grant recipients to follow up on trip report collection.

Live Your Dream Committee Members

Members of the LYD committee support the committee chair and AAC staff in functions of the LYD grant. The main responsibilities include reviewing of regional applications and assisting committee chair to finalize grant recipients.

Craggin' Classic

Craggin’ Classics are the most anticipated climber party and celebration of the year.

Craggin' Classic Committee Chair

The Craggin’ Classic Event Chair assists with overseeing the entirety of their region’s event. Their job will involve scheduling, fundraising, registration and marketing. That doesn’t mean you’re rolling Honnold style on the northwest face of Half Dome. Along with support of AAC staff and regional leadership, the chair will recruit a team of volunteers to help with the main components of the weekend.

Craggin' Classic Committee

The committee members are individually responsible for different components of the weekend. These functions include, but are not limited to:

  • Food and beverage
  • Marketing materials i.e. poster design, local posting of fliers
  • Promotion
  • Registration
  • Photography
  • Venue
  • Entertainment i.e. slideshows, music, movies, contests
  • Audio Visual i.e. projectors, sound system and technical help
  • Building a clinic schedule

Section Events Committee

The Section Dinner/Fundraising Event

Annual section dinners are a geat way to raise money for AAC grants and projects, and are a really fun way to gather members of the local community. Putting on a dinner involves a team to: find a location, find a good caterer, market the event and secure donations for a raffle or auction. The dinner should have a theme which can be formal or fun, whatever best suits the needs of your section, but creativity is welcome and encouraged. This event does not necessarily need to be a dinner- if another idea seems more suited to a particular community, just run it by your Regional Manager for approval.

Regional Welcoming Position

While this is more of a one-person-job, it is very important. One enthusiastic person from each section will be responsible for calling new members each month. The Volunteer Coordinator in Golden will send a monthly list to this person so that they can welcome new members to the club, as well as help to answer any questions people may have. This is also a good way to find out what volunteer opportunities exist locally in which our members may be interested, as well as let people know what about events happening in their area. This person will also be in regular contact with their Section Chair to stay current on local events. A database is available on Google Drive where members who are interested in volunteer opportunities are added. Their names, contact info and possible interests are captured here and available for the Section Chairs and Regional Managers to contact.

Board of Directors & Board-level Committees

The Board of Directors is made up of volunteers. There are also several committees that are chaired by board members such as the Conservation and Advocacy Committee, ... Board members and other volunteers sit on many of these committees and occasionally have openings.

Volunteer Summit

Our annual Volunteer Summit is held each spring at Headquarters in Golden, Colorado. We gather the Section and Chapter Chairs from across the country for three days of training, brainstorming, and, of course, some climbing. Our volunteer leaders gain valuable knowledge about how they can better serve their fellow members more efficiently, but they also connect with other leaders from different areas of the country and often find this a valuable tool for new ideas.

The goal of the Summit is to provide each volunteer leader with applicable skills, practical tools for their section, and psych! We learn a lot at the summit, but we also have a ton of fun after training sessions and on our designated climbing day. In 2015 our Section Chairs engaged in training sessions about event management, MailChimp, social media, building new programs, leadership and more. We also had two groups take to the local mountains here and go sport climbing in Clear Creek Canyon, summit Torrey’s Peak via the Kelso Ridge and climb late season ice at Lincoln Falls.

Guidebook to Volunteerism

The source for all things volunteering for the American Alpine Club.


Your Support Team

Eddie Espinosa

Western Field Manager
[email protected]

Our Vision
A united community of competent climbers
and healthy climbing landscapes.
Our Mission
To support our shared passion for climbing
and respect for the places we climb.

photo: [top] Truc Allen Media. [bottom] Lonnie Kauk