American Alpine Club Announces 2019 Climbing Awards

America’s leading Climbing Awards honor Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, Tom Hornbein, Kate Rutherford, and Jeremy Jones, among others.

By Rock and Ice | December 17th, 2018

The American Alpine Club announced the recipients of its annual slate of awards this morning, and, as always, the honorees are a hugely impressive bunch. This year’s cohort includes young ambassadors for the sport like Brette Harrington, legends like Michael Kennedy and Tom Hornbein, and the Polish rescuers of Elisabeth Revol on Nanga Parbat in January 2018.

The awards will be conferred on this year’s honorees at the AAC’s annual dinner, to be held the weekend of March 8 to 10, in San Francisco. In addition to the awards presentation, Colin Haley will deliver a keynote speech about the “triumphs and tragedies of speed climbing.”

See a portion of the AAC’s press release below for more info on the 2019 Climbing Award honorees.


Left to Right) Jim Donini, Photo: Jim Donini Collection. Michael Kennedy, Photo: Michael Kennedy Collection. Tom Hornbein, Photo: Tom Hornbein Collection.

Celebrating some of the greatest mountaineers of Golden Age of American climbing, Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy will receive a prestigious Honorary Membership for their “lasting and highly significant impact on the advancement of the climbing craft,” and Tom Hornbein, famous for the 1963 first ascent of Everest’s infamous West Ridge, will receive the 2019 Heilprin Citation for his lifelong work to “maintain and strengthen the American Alpine Club.”




Brette Harrington. Photo: Francois Lebeau.

For the second year in a row, a female climber will receive the The Robert Hicks Bates Award which honors young climbers who show “outstanding promise for future accomplishment.” Brette Harrington, a 26-year-old climber, is perhaps best known for the first free solo of 2,500-ft Chiaro di Luna (5.11a) in Patagonia, but is also an accomplished trad climber with several 5.13+ routes to her name. Past Bates Award winners have included Alex Honnold, Chris Sharma, Tommy Caldwell, Steph Davis, Hayden Kennedy, Colin Haley (the 2019 Keynote speaker), Sasha DiGiulian, and Margo Hayes.




Kate Rutherford. Photo: Kate Rutherford Collection.

Kate Rutherford is set to receive the Underhill Award in recognition of a fantastic and inspiring climbing career. Rutherford was singled out by the AAC selection committee due to her impressive list of climbing accomplishments worldwide and a number of notable first all-female free ascents, including FreeRider (5.13a) on El Capitan, the Moonlight Buttress (5.12d) in Zion, and the North Pillar of Fitzroy.





Jeremy Jones. Photo: Andrew Miller.

Legendary big mountain snowboarder, Jeremy Jones, will be recognized for his conservation leadership to bring attention to climate change as it affects the mountain community. Jones has become an unrelenting champion to fight climate change and share his experiences of receding glaciers and changing mountain landscapes using his podium as an athlete. In 2013 Jones was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, and has been called a “Champion of Change” by President Obama.




Nanaga Parbat rescue team. Photo: Piotr Tomala.

The American Alpine Club is also pleased to recognize the selflessness and courage of a Polish climbing team who redirected from their first winter ascent of K2 to rescue another team caught at 26,660 ft on Pakistan’s Nanga Parbat. The team, comprised of Dennis Urubko, Adam Bielecki, Jaroslaw Botor, and Piotrek Tomala, climbed through the night in treacherous conditions to rescue a French climber, Elisabeth Revol.



Also, Kelly Cordes will receive The H. Adam Carter Literary Award on June 1 at the Excellence in Climbing event in Denver, in recognition of his contribution to climbing literature. Past recipients of this award include Rock and Ice Editor in Chief Duane Raleigh, Executive Editor Alison Osius, and former Editor Jeff Jackson.


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