The following communication, a message from American Alpine Club CEO Phil Powers, was published on 30 April.


To the American Alpine Club Community,

Our world has been radically impacted by COVID-19. And, this week, it hit home for us in Golden.

Yesterday, we placed nearly a quarter of our valued employees on furlough. The senior leadership team and I were brought to this decision after thorough and thoughtful forecasting and budget cuts.

With our operations and revenues limited for an unknown period, we have chosen a path which will see the AAC through the next months to a position of continued strength. Included in this plan is the furlough of several of our full-time team members. These employees will continue to receive full medical benefits for the duration of the furlough. In addition to these steps, my senior leadership team and I have taken temporary salary reductions, and we have suspended matching contributions to 403(b) retirement plans for all staff.

I do not take these decisions lightly. Caring for our team is paramount. Climbing is a driving force in my life; I know it is for many of you. The AAC’s mission and goals are deeply fulfilling, but it is the people I work with—including those we will miss over these next weeks— who make our work so satisfying.

Over the last six weeks, we’ve navigated a fraught and changing landscape with the priority of furthering our mission, protecting our people, and supporting our community. In early March, we closed our Golden offices and asked our team to work safely from home. With the disease spreading across the nation, we pivoted our Annual Benefit Dinner to a virtual event, and our community united together for an evening of reflection and celebration. In the last month, we’ve continued to foster community within climbing through our new Give a Belay, Get a Belay initiative and Clubhouse Live series.

During this period of change, AAC staff members have also called hundreds of members, volunteers, and donors to check in and let you know that we care. Not surprisingly, you have responded in kind, rallying in support of each other and our Club, reminding us that this community is our greatest strength.

Thank you.

The hard choices we have made this week will allow the AAC to weather a difficult time while maintaining our core operations, and our ability to deliver on our promise to all members.

At its core, the American Alpine Club is strong. The mission and values that bind our 25,000 members across generations and backgrounds—and that tie us to the mountains—are as compelling and urgent as ever. The challenges we face are significant. Our efforts—and success—never more important.

I want to share a deep thank you from staff, the board, and dedicated volunteers for the support that you continue to offer to us and to each other. I know you’ll agree that in climbing and the Club we share something sustaining. In difficult times, I know I am thankful for what I’ve learned in the mountains.

Be prudent, be thoughtful, and keep yourselves on a path to feeling good in the vertical world when that time comes.

I am honored to share this Club with you.

Sincerely yours,

Phil Powers
CEO, American Alpine Club