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Hail the Volunteer! ELIZA MORAN

Posted on: March 23rd, 2009 by Sierra Nevada Section

It’s hard to imagine someone devoting more of their time and energy to the American Alpine Club than Sierra Nevada Section member Eliza Moran. She has held a wide variety of official AAC positions and traveled the world representing the interests of climbers and lovers of mountains. Eliza has also been a tireless organizer and advocate for women climbers, and we have all benefitted from her efforts in many ways that aren’t necessarily apparent. Not surprisingly, in 2000, Eliza received the AAC’s Heilprin Citation to recognize her contributions. But she was not done at that point, and let’s now take some time here to scratch the surface of Eliza’s volunteerism and thank her for all that she has done. In 1987, Eliza became the first woman delegate to the UIAA from any world climbing federation. For the first 10 of the 20 years she served at the UIAA, she was the only woman. The UIAA is the internatonal organization whose members are the alpine clubs and national climbing federations from around the world. It is a vast and complex organization whose operations obviously require political savvy to successfully navigate. And Eliza cetainly did that. She was elected by the UIAA delgates as President of the UIAA’s Mountaineering Commission, which was another two firsts – to be elected rather than appointed and to be a woman president of a UIAA commission. During her 20 years of service, Eliza’s UIAA work required her to travel to Europe three times each year at her own expense. The Mountaineering Commission accomplished so many things of relevance to the AAC that we can’t begin to list them here, but one near and dear to our SNS hearts certainly stands out – overwhelming international support for the AAC’s law suit against the National Park Service to save Yosemite Valley’s Camp 4. SNS members Tom Frost and Dick Duane, who spearheaded the suit, would tell how significant that international support was to success. Eliza was also an AAC Board member at the time (she’s seved two terms as a Director), and the Board nominated Tom and Dick to receive the AAC’s Gold Medal, a rarely awarded AAC honor of he highest order. Eliza’s work on the UIAA Mountaineering Commission also involved adoption of the Tyrol Declaration, about which she wrote in the AAJ. Eliza has also served as the AAC’s chair of international climbers’ exchanges. She has organized, led and participated in three international events for women climbers, in the UK, Sweden and the US. SNS member Jane Koski accompanied Eliza and then AAC President Alison Osius to the event in Wales, UK. Last summer, the Chinese Mountaineering Association sent five women to the AAC’s Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch as part of a women’s exchange organized by Eliza. In a big and pleasant surprise, one of the climber’s selected by the CMA was Ciren Wangmu, the Tibetan climber that took the Olympic flame up Mt. Everest last May. Her participation was no doubt a result of the trust Eliza had built with the CMA president over the preceding three years of her work making this historic exchange happen. It could not have been so without the relationship with CMA officials Eliza developed through her work with the UIAA. This exchange also changed the lives of the women selected by the AAC to participate. Last October, five women representing the AAC ranging in age from 21 to 64, traveled to China. Three of the team made the first ever all American / AAC women’s ascent of a 20,286 foot mountain in the Eastern Kulun Range. All of the team, including Eliza as team leader, got to advanced base camp at 18,600 feet. Chinese television covered the exchange in depth each night on their world news. In connection with the AAC’s 2nd Annual Benefit & Awards Dinner coming up in Golden on February 21, Eliza will will make a presentation recounting the Chinese-American Ladies’ Climbing Exchange. Closer to home, Eliza created the Ladies Base Camp Lunch series at AAC annual meetings, which over the course of its three years, honored Arlene Blum, Liz Robbins and Barbara Washburn. Lynn Hill was a regular participant. Eliza also led a Women’s Panel at joint AAC-Alpine Club of Canada festivities at the Banff Centre. This panel was titled “Women Who Make a Difference, ” and featured Sharon Wood (first North American woman to summit Everest), the AAC’s Charlotte Fox, and a host of well known Canadian women climbers. The event resulted in a grant by Marmot to support the ACC’s women’s programs. And finally, of course, the Sierra NevadaSection has benefitted from Eliza’s talents and energy. The last section event she planned, back in 2000, a presentation by TM herbert, Joe Kelsey and Kath Pike, was attended by over 200 people and raised a significant amount of money.

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