Margo Hayes, Alex Honnold, and Sally Jewell are among the recipients of the American Alpine Club’s annual climbing awards.
The longest-running climbing award, the American Alpine Club (AAC) Climbing Awards, have been celebrating alpinists and climbers since 1976. Popular names and old-school climbers made the list this year.
Alex Honnold, Margo Hayes, John Roskelley, Sally Jewell, and Ellen Lapham won the distinction for 2018. The recipients demonstrated prolific climbing achievements and outstanding commitment to conservation issues.
“Though climbing’s popularity has exploded recently, it was long the domain of a few bold souls,” said AAC CEO Phil Powers. “Difficult and dangerous, it is a metaphor for much in life and an inspiration to many. These awards and the people who have earned them are that inspiration.”
America’s Top Climbing Awards: AAC
Each climber received a unique distinction that pays homage to ground-breaking climbers of yesteryear. The awards were differentiated by climbing achievements, conservation, and volunteerism.
Alex Honnold: Robert and Miriam Underhill Award
The Robert and Miriam Underhill Award is given annually to the person that demonstrates the highest level of skill in mountaineering through the application of skill, courage, and perseverance. And this year’s winner certainly doesn’t have any shortage of courage, with his audacious free-solo climbs.
“The ascent of Free Rider places Alex firmly in a category by himself as the greatest free solo rock climber of all time,” said Mark Richey, Selection Committee Chair.
This award is given in honor of Robert and Miriam Underhill, two climbing pioneers from the 1930s with notable ascents in the Tetons and Sierras. Previous winners include Steve House, Lynn Hill, Royal Robbins, Conrad Anker, and many other household climbers’ names.
Ellen Lapham: Angelo Heilprin Citation
The Angelo Heilprin Citation is awarded to the person who showed exemplary service to the AAC. Among Lapham’s accomplishments: co-founding the Sustainable Summits Initiative, co-founding the American Climber Science Program, chair of the AAC’s Conservation Committee, and chair of the board of the Trust for Hidden Villa, a non-profit focused on organic farming, wilderness, and community.
As the AAC’s Conservation Committee chair, Lapham developed a five-year plan to grow the organization. She is also the oldest person to climb two classic waterfall ice routes, Telluride’s Bridal Veil Falls in 2014, and Ames Ice Hose in 2015.
Angelo Heilprin was a burgeoning Greenland explorer at the turn of the 20th century and helped found the AAC. See previous winners listed here.
Margo Hayes: Robert Hicks Bates Award
The Robert Hicks Bates Award recognizes a young climber that demonstrates exceptional skill and outstanding promise for the future of the sport.
“This has been Margo Hayes’s year,” said Selection Committee Chair Rolando Garibotti. “She climbed two of the world’s hardest and most iconic sport routes, La Rambla in Siurana, Spain, and Realization in Ceuse, France, the first and third 5.15a routes ever climbed by a woman.”
“With her ascents, Margo redefined what is possible,” Garibotti concluded.
Robert Bates pushed the limits of mountaineering in the 1930s with ascents in the Yukon and exploration of K2. Previous winners include young-guns-turned-all-stars Sasha DiGiulian, Alex Honnold, Hayden Kennedy, and Chris Sharma.
Sally Jewell: David R. Brower Conservation Award
The David R. Brower Award recognizes leadership and commitment to preserving mountain regions worldwide. Fromer Secretary of the Interior from 2013 to 2016, Jewel expanded access to national parks for kids through the Every Kid initiative, aided the designation of 18 national monuments, and also worked as REI’s CEO.
“The American Alpine Club is honored to recognize Secretary Jewell’s unparalleled leadership in landscape conservation and her strong commitment to youth outdoor education, which have both been vital in helping to preserve and protect America’s most important public lands and mountain environments,” said Selection Committee member Mark Butler.
David Brower was a prominent environmentalist who founded the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies, the League of Conservation Voters, and served as the first CEO of the Sierra Club. He also put up more than 70 first ascents. Previous winners include Kris Tompkins, Conrad Anker, and Yvon Chouinard.
John Roskelley: Honorary Membership
One of the highest awards the AAC offers, Honorary Membership, is given to individuals who have had a “lasting and highly significant impact on the advancement of the climbing craft.”
Former AAC director and president Louis Reichardt nodded to Roskelley’s impressive first ascents across North America, the Himalayas, and Krakorum.
“Of special note, John was the primary driver and climbing leader on virtually all of these ascents,” Reichardt said. “John’s mountaineering accomplishments compare favorably to those of the most outstanding of the world’s mountaineers of his generation.”
Roskelley has authored numerous mountaineering books, including Last Days, Stories off the Wall, and Nanda Devi: The Tragic Expedition. His list of first ascents is long and includes the Great Trango Tower and the first American ascent of K2.
Previous Honorary Membership recipients include Glenn Exum, Sir Edmund Hilary, and Theodore Roosevelt.