American Alpine Club (AAC) - The Cutting Edge Grant



Location (s):

  • United States of America
  • Worldwide


The American Alpine Club has inspired and supported cutting-edge climbing achievements for over 100 years.


From funding the first ascent of Mt. Logan in 1925 and the exploration of the Karakoram in 1938, to the 2006 first ascent of Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face, and the countless expeditions in between, the AAC has stood to encourage climbers to push their physical and mental limits, supported their pursuits, and celebrated their accomplishments.

The Cutting Edge Grant continues this tradition, aiming to fund advanced climbing athletes in pursuit of world-class climbing and mountaineering objectives. 

The Cutting Edge Grant is supported in part by Global Rescue, the world’s leading provider of integrated travel risk and evacuation memberships. CEG recipients are additionally awarded a one-year, full Global Rescue Membership—an upgrade to the standard AAC rescue coverage. Upgraded benefits include: $500,000 of rescue evacuation; repatriation back to the US; deployed Global Rescue Personnel; and more—a service intended to help AAC members climb hard and return home safely.


  • ANNE GILBERT CHASE - ($8,000) to attempt the first ascent of the Southwest face of Mt. Nilkantha (6596m), a major peak of the Garhwal division of the Himalayas, in the Uttarakhand region of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The route contains 1,500m of technical climbing from base to summit and features steep rock and ice mixed climbing with numerous objective hazards. Mt. Nilkantha has been climbed only a few times via the North and West Ridges while the more impressive Southwest face is yet to be completed. 
  • JEROME SULLIVAN - ($6,000) to attempt the first ascent of the East face of Monte San Lorenzo (3706m) on the border between Argentina and Chile in Patagonia. Various parties have attempted the face yet no one has succeeded -- cornices and seracs top the 4km wall, leaving little safe lines. The primary objective is a steep and technical buttress on the East face of the Cumbre Central. 
  • CLINT HELANDER - ($6,000) to attempt the first ascent of the South Pillar of Panbari (6905m) located in the Peri Himal region just north of Manaslu in Nepal. Panbari, though close to the popular and accessible Manaslu trekking circuit, has seen little attention from climbers. The South Pillar begins with a web of couloirs that weave upward for 1000m with the technical pillar beginning at about 5300m with steep snow, ice and mixed climbing expected, with the rock being fractured granite.


Expectations of grant recipients include:

1. Content Deliverable Plan. The highest standard of deliverables, including trip reports, articles, media, and outreach are expected from Cutting Edge Grant recipients. The AAC Grants Manager and American Alpine Journal editorial staff will work directly with recipients to develop a plan for appropriately documenting the expedition, developing timelines for submission, and creating appropriate engagement expectations. This plan will be developed and agreed upon by both parties prior to the expedition date.

Examples of recipient deliverables may include:

  • Trip Report: In general, trip reports should incorporate a written component, ideally 500-1,500 words, giving a general summary of the trip, including planning, approach, camps, climbs attempted, climbs completed, and any logistical information helpful to future parties. Appropriate imagery that aids to illustrate these components should also be included. [Due within 60-90 days of trip completion]
  • Photography/Videography: High-quality photography and/or videography illustrating the visual aspects and experiences of the expedition, including imagery that exemplifies the AAC brand and incorporates the AAC logo, will be expected.
  • American Alpine Journal: It is expected that recipients, if asked, submit a unique, fresh story for publication in the AAJ or AAJ Online, with previously unpublished photos, if possible. [Due within 60-90 days of trip completion]
  • Presentations/Slideshows: Recipients may be called upon to give a presentation of the expedition at a national or local AAC event or other public engagement. It is expected that recipients mention the support of the AAC and include the AAC logo when speaking about the expedition.
  • Marketing: Recipients may be asked to participate in AAC-driven marketing campaigns promoting the Cutting Edge Grant or other AAC programs. Campaigns could include social media posts, Instagram takeovers, print collateral, or email promotions.
  • Volunteerism: Recipients may be asked to participate in AAC-led volunteer commitments such as sitting on a grant selection committee or involvement in conservation, stewardship, or advocacy initiatives.

2. Trip Commitment. Recipients should demonstrate a commitment to their objective by expressing a detailed understanding of the proposed expedition’s objective, timeline, budget, and logistics, including what permits and/or visas may be required.

3. Club Representation. Recipients will act as American Alpine Club ambassadors to the international climbing community and are expected to champion the mission, values, and support of the Club both domestically and abroad. Recipients should do their best to practice environmentally low impact and leave no trace ethics, acting as strong mountain stewards. Recipients are expected to obey the rules and regulations of the host country in which they are climbing.

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:


Proposals will be evaluated upon:

  • Goal. The Cutting Edge Grant seeks to fund individuals planning expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world-class pursuits. Objectives featuring a low-impact style and leave-no-trace mentality will be looked upon with favor.
  • Experience. Applicants should possess a strong resume of past climbing achievements and/or experiences that illustrate their ability to have a reasonable potential for success. He or she must demonstrate that they are an advanced and capable climber. Experience must be in keeping with the difficulty of the stated objective.
  • Eligibility. Individuals who are U.S. citizens and members of the American Alpine Club are eligible to apply. The Cutting Edge Grant is open to all climbing athletes, including those receiving financial support or in-kind support from corporate sponsors, however the level of sponsorship must be disclosed. Other team members need not be U.S. citizens. 

The AAC encourages all capable athletes seeking worthy objectives to apply. If you have a question or a doubt regarding your project goal, experience level, or eligibility, please reach out to the AAC Climbing Grants Manager.


  • Proposals are accepted for expeditions occurring within one calendar year of the award date.
  • Funding shall not be released to recipients until necessary permits and/or visas have been obtained.
  • If for any reason the project is canceled or significantly altered, recipients must contact the AAC Grants Manager. If requested, all awarded funds must be returned to the AAC in full.


  • The application period for the Cutting Edge Grant is open from October 1st through November 30th, each year.
  • Applications must be submitted via the online portal no later than 11:59pm MST on November 30th.
  • Recipients are notified in the month of January.


The Selection Committee for the American Alpine Club's Cutting Edge Grant is Chaired by Jack Tackle and includes members Jared Ogden, Kate Rutherford, Kevin Mahoney, and Nancy Feagin.


Deadline: The application period is open for one or more cycles a year

Cost/funding for participants:


Cutting Edge Grant awards are intended to more significantly contribute towards total expedition costs. Awards will typically fall in the $5,000 to $15,000 range, however award amounts will vary based on project and budget.

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