Though I’ve been climbing for over 16 years now, shamefully, it’s only been for the last two years that I have been a member of the American Alpine Club. I joined before my first trip to Rainier primarily for the rescue insurance. Prior to that, I had assumed that membership was really only for alpinists and/or old dudes. How wrong was I?!?! Since becoming a member, I have renewed my membership every year around this time and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Not an exhaustive list by any means, these are my top 7 reasons why AAC membership is worth every penny.
- DISCOUNTS! I am a total Pata-holic. I love their stuff and probably have way too much of it. With an AAC membership, I get 20% of regularly priced items on the web. That’s like having a sale everyday of the year! The money I have saved with this one discount alone has been worth to cost of membership. My other favorite discount is a special member’s link to Backcountry.com which gives you 10-30% off most items. And Backcountry.com carries everything!!!! With just these two discounts, membership is really a no-brainer.
- Grants. Last year I was selected by the Northeast section to receive a Live Your Dream Grant to climb the Fischer Chimneys route on Mt. Shuksan (read about my trip here and here.) It was my second-ever alpine climb. How cool is that? Little ol’ me, getting a grant to go on a climb? And that’s exactly what is so awesome about the LYD grant program- its for everyday climbers (well, more like the weekend warriors.)
- This. My little membership gift for renewing early. How freakin’ cool is that? (I’m wearing mine right now!)
- AAC Library. A whole library of climbing literature at your finger tips. You go online, ‘order’ the book you want and they send it you. Super easy. And there’s no late fee like the public library! (Though you should be considerate of others who may be waiting to check out the book as well. And if you keep it for more than a year, they will charge you the cost of the book.)
- Rescue benefit. I have not had to use mine, but it does give me peace of mind to know I have this. Ditto for when the hubs is out in the backcountry.
- Lodging discounts. I’m watching the AAC campground at the Gunks go in right now. I cannot tell you what a big freakin’ deal that is. Before I moved to the area, I did camp here. I’ve stayed a few nights at Camp Slime, which has great views, but is quite crowded. I remember my first time staying there, we got in late and set up our tent in the dark. There was hardly anyone there at that time. When I woke up in the morning and got out of my tent, I nearly face-planted after tripping on a guy line of another tent set up right in front my tent door. From then on I stayed at the MUA, or as we called it, ‘the multi-abuse area.’ That was funny at the time, but it soon became no joke. The surrounding area became so impacted by the lack of clearly-defined, designated campsites and lack of toilet facilities, that the DEC had to severely limit the camping there. Between the small, cramped size of Camp Slime and the need to limit camping at the MUA, we’ve suffered from a serious lack of places to for visiting climbers to stay. Sure, there are campgrounds and other things scattered about, but some of them are quite a ways away from the cliff and/or expensive. Thanks to the new campground the AAC is helping to build just below the cliff, we’ll have really nice facilities for visiting climbers. Perhaps even more importantly, by having real toilet facilities, designated campsites on durable surfaces and a trail from campground to the base of the cliff, we’ll be able to lessen/concentrate climber impact and be able to preserve some of the wild nature of the area.
- Accidents in North American Mountaineering. Though not an exhaustive or all-exclusive list (most incidents are self-reported), it’s really helpful to learn from the mistakes of others. The 2013 ANAM focused on Lowering accidents since they are making up the vast majority of reported accidents. According to Mike Poborsky’s write up, 56% of lowering accidents happen when the rope is too short and the climber either raps off the ends of their rope or a belayer lowers a climber off of the end. It takes two seconds to tie a knot in the end of your rope and prevent this. Would you be more inclined to do that if you knew it could prevent 56% of all lowering accidents? Considering what the cost could be of getting hurt this way- hospital and doctor bills, time off of work, time off from climbing, psychological ramifications- reading ANMA and learning from this could save you so much beyond the paltry sum you pay for membership.
How about you? What’s one of your favorite ‘perks’ of being an AAC member? Tell us in the comments below! Not a member yet? What are you waiting for?!?!? Join today!!!