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Dart Throwing Septuagenarians and more…

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by Luke Bauer

I have fewer than 50 words to entice you to click on the title of this, my first ever blog.  Fewer than 330 characters to cajole you into a virtual meeting in which you will read about a dart throwing septuagenarian, a strangulation, and my vision for the American Alpine Club.  I promise not to bore you with a five-year strategic plan.

My grandmother was the dart thrower.  Her well placed darts quivered on the world map affixed to the wall.  From the point of the dart, a story was born.  These stories were the foundation of my lifetime of adventure.  There have been high points: First ascents, red-points, perfect turns, rescues, and awards.   There have been low points: Deaths of friends, injuries, and soiling myself after getting strangled by a rope in a fall.

With adventure there are challenges, risks and rewards.  My vision is to challenge the AAC to grow, to welcome, attract, and nurture all whom enjoy climbing and the mountains, and to extend that love/drive/ambition via a local community driven focus.  I challenge us to become of a club in which its members find relevance throughout a lifetime.  I challenge us to redefine our image from that of men in jackets smoking cigars, drinking brandy, and reliving history.  I challenge us to find our voice, the voice of American climbing.  Still about the coolest activity many of us have ever engaged.

This, in short, is my vision for the AAC.  I hope that you will join me in the next adventure.


Charlie Sassara, AAC President

Charlie would like to extend an invitation to the Membership to ask him questions about his vision for the his Presidency. Got a question for Mr. Sassara? Email us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting your questions and his answers on Facebook, our blog, Inclined, and in the April E-News.


Charlie Sassara joined the American Alpine Club as President in March of 2012—but his long previous service to the Club as Treasurer and as a Board member was marked by both the David Sowles Memorial Award in 2003 and the Angelo Heilprin Citation in 2009. Charlie is Alaskan born and bred, and essentially self-taught. Early climbs were extended solos in the local Chugach Range along unnamed ridges and unclimbed faces. He’s still an active climber after 35 years, with over 20 expeditions to the Alaska, Chugach, Hayes and Wrangell/Saint Elias, Himalayan and Patagonian ranges.

Charlie has 25 years of project management and business development experience with an emphasis government contracting and construction with Arctic Slope Regional, Cook Inlet Regional and Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation subsidiaries and 15 years in working with adaptive elements of organizational culture, teamwork and economic development. He secured approval of the first mentor/protégé venture under the Small Business Administration, performed startups of various business and ventures, including UIC’s Cape Simpson Industrial Port on the North Slope of Alaska.

In the climbing world, he’s known for both being one of the founders of the Alaska Rock Gym—with its commitment to the Alaskan climbing community—and for his notable first ascents and sailing accomplishments.


10 Responses

  1. Terri O'Fallon says:

    Though I am not a climber in body (I am in imagination) my son has gone on many climbing adventures, and I get a vicarious experience from his stories. While I don’t climb mountains like you have, I still hike 3-5 miles up Squak or Tiger mountain every day, for nearly the 4000th time; I love what you say here about communities Charlie.

    So how can an elder woman like me find relevance in this club (through a lifetime)? Is everyone invited?


    • Charlie Sassara says:

      Good question Terri. First, keep marching up those hills. Then pay attention to the “Sections” segment on this web page and attend one of their upcoming events. You just might run into some interesting people with similar interests. The point is to connect. I also invite you to investigate the other resources we offer; the library for example. Just follow your nose and see what sparks your curiosity then go check it out. Charlie

  2. Mark Nelson says:

    Hey Charlie:

    Congratulations on becoming a leader of a fantastic organization. You may not remember, but you instructed my brother & I on playing in alpine/mixed terrain at one of the annual meetings in Ouray. Been a member ever since. I’ve been able to do a fair amount of climbing (granted, I started off and on from the mid-80s), Tetoning when I can, but mostly involved in pursuing a new education & possibly a career in e-medicine, as well as being involved in mountain rescue.

    Well, I don’t have much else. Good luck on this.

    Mark N.

    • Charlie Sassara says:

      I remember the class “Mixed for Mortals” and the fun we had goofing off. I never expected to in this role, that’s for sure. Thank you for the encouragement. E-medicine,.. interesting. Charlie

  3. Charlie:-

    Congratulations on this achievement. You are truly one of America’s stand outs. Keep it up!

    T Bone

  4. Dan Caine says:

    I’m really not a big fan of heights, not even tall buildings, but particularly those where I might be dangling with my feet more than 6 feet off the ground. That’s likely not going to change radically in my lifetime. However, I’m inspired by the vision and ambition that Charlie Sassara, the new AAC President puts out here. Maybe can even imagine what that experience of being on a sheer rockface can be. That vision taps into the heart, spirit and courage of the sport and extends it in ways that invite the support of ‘climbers’ in all areas- literal and figurative- men and women, old and young. I wish you the best in achieving your goals.

  5. charles sassara sr. says:

    charlies first ascent was THE BUTTE near Palmer Akaska in1959 at age 3 an unaided climb of about 800 ft

  6. Rachael Sassara says:

    I can honestly say that Charlie Sassara is filled to the brim with dedication and excitement for the American Alpine Club. Charlie is extremely knowledgeable of anything and everything to do with helping anyone, bringing people together, and sparking an interest in climbing that you might never know you had. He’s passionate and very smart, and I can’t wait to see what he can do for the American Alpine club. I know he’s inspired me to work and play hard all my life.
    I’m proud of you Uncle Charlie, congratulations!
    - Rachael Sassara

  7. Shingo Ohkawa says:

    Congratulations, Charlie!

  8. Ralph Baldwin says:

    Congratulations, Charlie! I look forward to your tenure at the helm. May you and the other Directors lead our national organization onward!