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2013 AAC Annual Benefit Dinner: 50th Anniversary Everest

Posted on: March 5th, 2013 by The AAC

Click the image to see more photos in the gallery.
Jim Aikman

Late afternoon sun rays cut through walls of windows, setting prayer flags ablaze. Below, the best-dressed climbers you’ve ever seen filtered into the Craneway Pavilion for a celebration that can only happen every 50 years.

Perched waterside, across the bay from San Francisco, the Craneway Pavilion was the venue for the American Alpine Club‘s 2013 Annual Benefit Dinner, celebrating 50 years since the historic 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition. Not only did that expedition put an American, Jim Whittaker, on top of Everest for the first time, it also established the famous West Ridge route, summited by Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld. The stories that came out of that expedition have inspired generations of climbers since.

So it is no surprise that 700 guests congregated in the atrium, clinking glasses of wine and beer, meeting new friends, as they kept one eye open for the four guests of honor: David Dingman, Norman Dyhrenfurth, Tom Hornbein, and Jim Whittaker. Together their combined age totaled 336 years, but you would never guess from Hornbein’s broad smile or Dyhrenfurth’s animated voice.

It wasn’t long before the sun dipped below the bay and the guests filtered into the main event—a time to meet fellow climbers, support the AAC, watch Eddie Bauer‘s 1963 Everest film, and of course hear from the legends themselves, reflecting on 50 years.

Thanks to all our members, new and old, who joined us for this special celebration. You witnessed a multi-generational reunion rarely seen in climbing history. You helped us sell out the Annual Dinner early for the first time in recent memory—with more guests than ever before. And you helped us raise more money for the American Alpine Club than any event in our 111-year history. Thank you, and see you next year!

Keep reading for the inside scoop on next year’s Annual Benefit Dinner location.

Highlights from the 2012 AAC Annual Benefit Dinner Weekend

  • The Annual Benefit Dinner raised more money than any other AAC event ever to support conservation at the AAC, which includes Cornerstone Conservation Grants, Research Grants, and dozens of events and initiatives as part of the Conservation & Advocacy Department and its volunteers.
  • Thank you to title sponsor Eddie Bauer for helping us host the expedition members and their families. We were honored to have so many of you in the room! Dave Dingman - Second medical officer of Expedition – Joined by: Barbara Dingman (wife), Dagny Dingman (daughter); Norman Dyhrenfurth - Expedition organizer, leader, cinematographer and film producer – Joined by: his partner Moidi Sernetz; Tom Hornbein - Responsible for Expedition oxygen equipment and planning – Joined by: Kathy Hornbein (wife), Cari Hornbein (daughter); Jim Whittaker - Responsible for Expedition equipment planning – Joined by: Dianne Roberts (wife), Leif Whittaker (son), Joss Whittaker (son); Allen Auten – Responsible for Expedition radio communications; Barry Bishop – Expedition still photographer for National Geographic Society – Represented by: Brent Bishop (son); John Breitenbach – Committed to the uncertainty of a new route – Represented by: Mary Lou Breitenbach (widow); James Barry Corbet – Committed to the uncertainty of a new route – Represented by: Muffy Moore (widow) and Jennifer Corbet (daughter); Dan Doody – Cinematographer for Expedition – Represented by: Agnes Doody (sister); Richard Emerson – Expedition logistical planner, and head of sociological study on relationship between uncertainty and motivation; Luther Jerstad – South Col route powerhouse – Represented by: Kari Olson and Janna Cox (daughters); James Lester – Studied psychological aspects of stress and group interactions during expedition – Represented by: Val Lester (widow); Maynard Miller – Research in glaciology and geomorphology of the Everest region; Richard Pownall – Expedition food planner; Barry Prather – Assistant to Maynard Miller in geological research – Represented by: Liesl Andrico (daughter); Gilbert Roberts – Responsible for medical planning and chief doc for the Expedition – Represented by: Erica Stone (widow); James Roberts – British. Responsible for Expedition transport and porter and Sherpa planning; James Ullman – Official chronicler of Expedition as author of Americans on Everest; William Siri – Deputy leader of Expedition in charge of scientific program and conduction of physiological research on altitude acclimatization; Willi Unsoeld – Climbing leader – Represented by: Jolene Unsoeld (widow), Krag Unsoeld (son), Janine Unsoeld (daughter in-law), Lee Kaplan-Unsoeld, Maya Campbell-Unsoeld, Ryan Silsbee.
  • Thank you to Mountain Hardwear for hosting the Get Inspired party on Friday night! More than 200 people enjoyed Mike Libecki‘s hilarious slideshow on his many adventures around the world (only a little bit of nudity was involved).
  • The AAC auctioned off an original Dee Molenaar painting that was produced especially for and signed to Tom Hornbein for his 1963 West Ridge climb.
  • Also auctioned was unique equipment and clothing from the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition that raised $23,000 for the AAC.
  • Journalists from the Associated Press, Outside Magazine, National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, Backpacker Magazine, Climbing Magazine, and the AAC‘s very own Story Project hosted private interviews and portrait/video sessions with the 1963 Everest Team members. The AP put together an incredible media package that went national on the day of the dinner. Read their story on the New York Times.
  • More than 100 members attended our Annual Meeting and voted in a new slate of board members: Deanne Buck, Phil Duff, and Chuck Fleischman. Welcome to the team!
  • There were so many Everest stories to tell that we couldn’t fit all of them into a full weekend, let alone our evening program! To bring Everest alive all day, we hosted an Everest Festival at the Mountain Hardwear Headquarters. Thank you to all the presenters for making this an extra special day: William Thompson, Wade Davis, Broughton Coburn, Allison Otto, John Harlin and David Bolling.
  • Everest Panel: George Lowe III, David Morton, Melissa Arnot, Mark Richey, Nick Clinch, & David Breashears and moderated by Conrad Anker
  • John Harlin III was honored at the Everest Panel for his decade of extraordinary work on the American Alpine Journal. He was given the rare 1907 Alpina Americana, the AAC’s very first publication.
  • Book Signing: Mike Hamill, Wade Davis, Brot Coburn
  • Dozens of Everest summiters were in the audience on Saturday night. Thanks for coming!
  • Awards: The David A. Sowles Award, For Unselfish Devotion to Imperiled Climbers: Peter Hacket; The Angelo Heilprin Citation, For Exemplary Service to the AAC: William A. Fetterhoff; Rowell Award, For Excellence in the Art of Adventure: Aaron Huey; The David R. Brower Conservation Award, For Outstanding Service in Mountain Conservation: Ellen Lapham; The H. Adams Carter Literary Award, For Excellence in Alpine Literature: Duane Raleigh; The Robert and Mirriam Underhill Award, For Outstanding Climbing Achievement: Tom Frost; The Robert Hicks Bates Award, For Outstanding Accomplishment by a Young Climber: Scott Bennett
  • Thanks to our Base Camp and in-kind sponsors: Clif Winery, Sierra Nevada BrewingNite Ize, Alpine Earth, Kyriba, Purple Orange PR

 The 2014 Annual Benefit Dinner will be hosted in Colorado’s Front Range. We look forward to seeing you there!






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