Skip to content


At the beginning of March, the AAC released a free, searchable online database containing every American Alpine Journal article, from 1966 to 2005, in its entirety. The Journal is considered one of the finest and most comprehensive sources of climbing information in the world. [Photo]

On the first day of March the American Alpine Club released an on-line version of the celebrated American Alpine Journal. Currently available are all volumes from 1966 to 2005, but in the future every journal will be obtainable, right back to the first publication in 1929. After some discussion it has been decided to make this a free service to mountaineers worldwide: simply go to the page, from where it is possible to make a search. No payment or registration is required. Simply type your keywords into the Search box and click. This then brings up a list of entries, each with their own link. Clicking one of these links will download the journal in question; for those with a poor bandwidth, this could actually take a while. It is also possible to download the complete index to the journals (in two parts), which will help identify correct spellings of foreign peaks etc.

This single gesture on the part of the AAC has suddenly allowed climbers of any nationality complete access to what is arguably the finest and most comprehensive source of climbing information in the world. In recent years perhaps as much as two-thirds of the ca. 500-page journal has been devoted to Climbs and Expeditions, personal accounts of long new routes (generally defined as US commitment Grade IV–a full day climb–or longer) on rock walls and in the mountains. There can’t be too many climbers planning to visit a remote area in the hope of putting up a new route or two, who haven’t first tired to consult the AAJ. In the past this will have generally necessitated a (lengthy) journey to a specialist library: now it is at one’s fingertips.

Then there are the features: it is now possible for anyone to read the seminal article on Cerro Torre and the Maestri enigma by Rolando Garibotti (2004), Damien Gildea’s survey of Mountaineering in Antarctica (1999) or a photo guide to Foraker by Donald Goodman (1987), to name just three more recent pieces of great interest to researchers.

Executive director Phil Powers notes that “this is part of a larger effort by the Club to make our substantial information resources more available….the Journal is extremely useful as a climbers’ research tool but only if you are one of the few who have a complete set. This [new initiative] makes decades of new route information available to anyone with access to the internet”.