karakoram american alpine club
The Karakoram highway and range, Pakistan; (photo/Pawika Tongtavee via Shutterstock)

American Alpine Club Dishes Out Cash for First Ascents

On May 11, the American Alpine Club announced its 2022 Cutting Edge Grant winners. In total, the four expeditions will clear $37,000.

The American Alpine Club (AAC) will fund four expeditions seeking high-standard alpine objectives this year. The Cutting Edge Grant funds “expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world-class pursuits.” According to the AAC, it favors fast, minimalist climbing on significant objectives, performed with leave-no-trace tactics.

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Each of the 2022 grant recipients’ objectives aligns with these criteria. In all, the club will distribute $37,000 to the four teams. Here’s what to look for from each expedition.

Chantel Astorga: Lunag Ri, Nepal

American alpinist Chantel Astorga netted $10,000 to support a new route on Lunag Ri (22,621 feet) in Nepal. The three-person American team comprises Astorga, Anne Gilbert Chase, and Jason Thompson.

Astorga previously made headlines for her 15-hour solo ascent of Alaska’s Cassin Ridge in 2021. The legendary Jack Tackle called her climb, the ridge’s first successful female solo, “one of the most impressive things done in the Alaska Range.”

 

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Priti Wright: K7, Pakistan

Priti Wright earned $7,000 from the AAC to attempt K7 Central, an unclimbed 22,500-foot peak in Pakistan’s Karakoram.

 

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The American and her husband, Jeff Wright, combine to make a seasoned alpine team — in January 2022, they enchained three out of four peaks of Patagonia’s Torre group on a 3-day expedition. Previously in the Karakoram, they snagged the first ascent of K6 Central (23,474 feet) in 2020.

Alan Rousseau: Jannu, Nepal

The North Face of Jannu is a massive climbing objective. Soaring 10,500 vertical feet from the snowfield below, it leads to the peak’s 25,295-foot summit. Its aspect and sheer scale mean most climbing attempts amount to sieges.

jannu north face
The North Face of Jannu; (photo/Carsten.nebel via Wiki Commons)

British climber Alan Rousseau will attempt it alpine style — moving fast and light, sacrificing safety margin to push success. Jackson Marvell of Utah will join Rousseau on the wall, bolstered with $10,000 in AAC grant funding. The two teamed up in 2019 for a 5,250-foot first ascent in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge, but Jannu promises to challenge the alpinists on a new scale.

Jerome Sullivan: Pumari Chhish East, Pakistan

The Karakoram is well-explored but far from climbed out. A French expedition, including Jerome Sullivan and three teammates, will get $10,000 to travel to Pakistan and attempt the first ascent of Pumari Chhish East (22,474 feet).

Three distinct granite turrets and a 6,560-foot face define the peak, which alpinists consider one of the significant unclimbed challenges that remain in the range. Jeremy Stagnetto, Martin Elias, and Victor Saucède join Sullivan on the climb. The climbers previously teamed up to climb K13 West (21,653 feet) by a new route, “Harvest Moon.”

 

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The American Alpine Club’s Cutting Edge Grant is open to club members with U.S. citizenship. The program began in 1925 when it funded the first ascent of Mt. Logan, Canada’s highest peak (19,551 feet). It arguably came ahead of its time — the objective took the team over 2 months to complete.

Sam Anderson
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Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.