AAC Grantees Promise an Exciting Summer of Elite Alpinism

Recipients of the American Alpine Club’s annual Cutting Edge grants will be heading to Lunag Ri and the North Face of Jannu, and Pakistan’s K7 Central and Pumari Chhish East.

The grants, offered jointly by the AAC and Black Diamond, seek 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.”

For nearly a century, these grants have helped cutting-edge teams push the limits of alpinism. Past sponsored expeditions include the first ascent of Canada’s Mount Logan in 1925 (led by Howard Lambart) and Steve House and Vince Anderson’s first alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face in 2005.

This year’s projects feature familiar faces and familiar mountains, set in the wild corners of the Greater Ranges.

Expedition roundup

Chantel Astorga. Photo: Lowa Boots


Denali speedster Chantel Astorga will attempt a new line up Lunag Ri, a peak that brings back memories of the sorely missed David Lama. Astorga will team up with Anne Gilbert Chase and Jason Thompson for a pure alpine-style ascent via a new route. It is not yet known if she will take her skis to Nepal. Astorga climbed Denali’s Cassin Ridge in 14h 23min, then skied down the West Rib, all on her own.

Alan Rousseau and Jackson Miller will return for a second go at the huge (and scary!) North Face of Jannu (7,710m). Last year, storms turned them back. The pair are shooting for the first alpine-style ascent of the 3,250m face.

Alan Rousseau at Mt. Foraker in summer this year. Photo: Alan Rousseau


Jerome Sullivan, Victor Saucede, and Christophe Ogier are taking their turn on the “impossible” Pumari Chhish East after Mathieu Maynadier and Tom Livingstone stopped barely 100m short of the summit during their remarkable try last year. Sullivan and company come with solid chops to pull off this first ascent. Last year, they climbed K13 West via a new route that they called Harvest Moon. The team has just arrived in Islamabad today, the Alpimon blog reports.

The Pumari Chhish expedition. Photo: Ishaq Jan/High Mountains Treks & Tours


Finally, the Wrights are back to the Pakistan “Ks”. Priti and Jeff Wright bagged the first ascent of K6 Central two years ago. They now want to repeat the feat on the still-unclimbed central point of K7 (6,858m). As usual with this pair, they are targeting a completely new route in pure alpine style.

Priti and Jeff wright on K6 Central’s summit, 2020. Photo: Jeff Wright

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.