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Charting New Territory as Northwest Regional Coordinator

Posted on: February 14th, 2012 by Luke Bauer

Northwest Regional Coordinator Eddie Espinosa recently teamed with new Cascade Section Co-Chair Rebecca Vande Hei to write a letter about his first year as Northwest Regional Coordinator

Bring the mission of the American Alpine Club to the local level. That’s my task as the Northwest Regional Coordinator. When I first started, it was a daunting task without a model of success to follow. No one had ever been a Regional Coordinator. No one had even been hired outside of Golden. But with help from talented AAC staff and volunteers, I sketched out a plan to help the AAC accomplish the local aspect of their five-year strategic mission. One year in, I’m excited to report on our flying start in the Northwest region.

Highlights from 2011

Visibility:
We increased AAC visibility in the Northwest through successful events:
• Held the most successful annual fundraising dinner in AAC history in Seattle.
• Coordinated a Spring BBQ and Music Night with the Mountaineers.
• Hosted the Craggin’ Classic in Index, Washington, with slideshows by Jasmin Caton, Graham Zimmerman and Kate Rutherford.
• Celebrated at the opening parties of two new gyms in Seattle:
      o The revamped Vertical World in Seattle.
      o The Seattle Bouldering Project, the country’s largest bouldering gym.
• Staffed a booth and spread the mission of the AAC at events:
      o The Mountaineer’s OutdoorsFest.
      o The T-Town Throwdown at Edgeworks Climbing, one of our partner gyms.
      o The Portland Bouldering Comp.
• Celebrated the holidays with a gathering at the Seattle Bouldering Project.

Advocacy:
We spread the core AAC values of knowledge and inspiration, conservation and advocacy:
• Consulted with the National Forest Service on their new management plan for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, home to some of the most popular climbing destinations in the country.
• Sponsored a fundraiser for Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia project at the Bozeman Icefest, where we also recruited volunteers for AAC activities in the Big Sky State.
• Hosted Rockfest, a new climbing festival in Mazama, Washington, where we did landscaping at Fun Rocks and rallied a couple dozen volunteers to maintain the local crag.

Support:
We provided logistical support for the local climbing community:
• Helped local climbers and Oregon AAC Section Chairs John Connor and Graham Williams with trail building and restoration at their annual Smith Rocks Spring Thing. Hopefully, we took some of the misery out of the Misery Ridge trail.
• Continued to expand our national gym program for those days when our members can’t get outdoors; it now includes 13 of the best climbing facilities in the country.
• Started building a relationship with Seattle-based B.O.L.D. and G.O.L.D., the YMCA’s innovative new youth outdoor leadership programs.
• Pursued additional member benefits by strengthening our relationships with local and national corporate partners. For example, members can now get 10 percent off purchases at Feathered Friends, a Seattle retail shop.
• Partnered with a local satellite communications company for AAC member discounts on satellite phone rentals.

Plans for 2012

Last year’s successes began the process of galvanizing local climbing communities; our plan now is to keep our momentum and build on that excitement.

Visibility:
The biggest change we’re planning is more small-scale community events like meet-ups at local gyms and outings to nearby crags. Giving our members a chance to connect on a more regular basis will keep them engaged. We’ve already started in Oregon with monthly meet-ups at a local brewpub, and Montana will soon follow with their new Section Chair Kevin Brumbach, and Ambassador Emily Stifler.

Advocacy:
We’ll continue to collaborate on multiple projects with the Access Fund, the Washington Climber’s Coalition, and The Mountaineers in the most cohesive alliance the Washington climbing community has ever seen. The AAC has met with the offices of Representatives Reichert and Larsen, and Congresswoman Cantwell to ensure we are a strong voice for the Northwest climbing community.

Support:
Another focus in 2012 is expanding our team of dedicated volunteers to improve our logistical support for trail-work and events. We’re also kicking off the new Athlete Ambassador Program, which will appoint talented athletes to share the AAC mission. Plus, we’ll continue working to provide even better local benefits for our members.

We’re looking forward to the year ahead!

Visit the The AAC Cascade Section page for more information, and “Like” our Facebook page for regular news and event updates.


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