Our Members: Erik Eisele—Northeast Live Your Dream Grant Winner
The “Live Your Dream” Climbing Grants are developed and administered locally with community support—each Region of the American Alpine Club has it’s own grant program. In the Northeast Region, the “Live Your Dream” Climbing Grant seeks to support climbers from a range of ages and experience levels, as well as a range of climbing disciplines (sport climbing, bouldering, traditional rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, etc.). The emphasis of the grant is on projects that have significant positive impact on grantees’ progressions as climbers.
We got into contact with the winners of the Northeast Region grants to talk to them about their trips, their experience, their motivations, and what they think of the Club.
Erik Eisele & Michael Wejchert
Hometown: North Conway, NH (Erik), Jackson, NH (Michael)
Years climbing: 13
Objective: The unclimbed South Face and Ridge of Urus Este in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca.
Date of Expedition: June 18 to July 12
Erik: Michael and I have both been a handful of expeditions to places like Alaska, Peru and Patagonia, and climbed a ton around the United States, but it is time to transition to the next level. We have both always dreamt of putting up alpine lines in the major ranges. This will hopefully just be the first such route in our alpine careers.
I climbed in the area two years ago, which is when I saw the line.
I’ve climbed to 18,000 feet in Peru, lead grade 6 ice and have put up M6 mixed lines. Michael has soloed grade 5 ice routes and climbed in Alaska and Patagonia. We both have extensive winter climbing experience around the Northeast.
I’m currently in Yosemite climbing routes from 18 to 30 pitches long to develop the overall fitness I’ll need for Peru. I’ll spend the next few weeks trail running and hiking before work and climbing after work to get ready. We only have three weeks to go until we leave, so I don’t have much time.
Everything else is training, the mountains are where the real climbing happens. A climb at a crag ends at the top, but in the mountains a climb ends on the SUMMIT. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not worth trying to explain to people who don’t get it.
The AAC supports climbers, so it just makes sense to be a member. Insurance, grants, AAJ, ANAM — everything the AAC does is part of the climbing lifestyle. They are one of only a handful of groups that truly represent climbers, and represent them well.
I wouldn’t want to going on trips like this without insurance. The AAC covers me there. They also support me and other climbers I know with awesome grants that help us piece together the expeditions that keep up sane. Lastly, Accidents in North American Mountaineering was such a valuable resources when I was learning to climb. Through it I learned from the mistakes of others instead of making them myself. I’m not sure where I would be had I been without it.
Two friends (Paul Clifford and Brian Threlkeld) also got LYD grants. They are less experienced climbers looking to get their feet wet. It is great to see the AAC support this level climber, not just those of us hoping to climb new lines in far off places. It’s nice to know the club is here to support everyone, not just elite climbers.
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