2016 Awards

Each December, the Mountaineering Committee hosts its annual holiday party. Aside from  the good food, drinks and raffle prizes, it's also the time when awards are handed out to celebrate different accomplishments throughout the year. While a few of the awards are more serious in nature, many of the others highlight some of the more humorous, painful, awkward, and entertaining moments inherent to the sport of climbing. For those who could not attend the 2016 holiday event, the awards and their descriptions are listed below. 

Scott Sandberg Volunteer of the Year Award — John Gassel

Craigen Bowen Scholarship Recipient — Catherine Hubbard

Bill Clack Scholarship Recipient — Emily Pitts


The rest of these awards were given to climbers who were nominated, usually by a friend or climbing partner, to highlight a funny adventure or other accolade from the year. 


Artist Emeritus Award — Susan Clark

This recipient has artistically and humorously illustrated all of the Holiday Party awards for over 20 years. She retired last year so the first award of this year goes to Susan Clark.   


Here in Spirit Award — Katie Cisto

This recipient is best known for her invention of Climber's Against Humanity, high production-quality climbing videos using legos, and sick climbing rap beats. She's also a long-time volunteer of the Rock Program and tireless advocate for pink tricam use. All who know her, have been taught by her, or climbed with her, consider her a friend. Though she moved to the climber's promise- land (yes, Boulder, CO) this year, her attitude of friendship and fun keeps her here in spirit. This year's Here in Spirit Award goes to Katie Cisto!


Bag of Sand Award — Sarah Keyes

On a Fall trip to one of the sandbagger's strongholds--The Adironadacks--this recipient hopped on the four-pitch route, A Touch of Class. However, all class went out the door when she encountered the unusually difficult final 5.8 pitch. "[Bleep] these mother [bleeping] sandbaggers and their [bleeping] 5.8s!" she shouted. Turns out, she'd been betrayed by one of her own...her belayer had directed her to the 5.10 finish. After sending the pitch, she sheepishly called to her belayer: "I'm sorry I called you a mother [bleeping] sandbagger." After her successful dispatch of the route, we have reason to believe that this recipient will partake in the time-honored tradition of sandbaggery for years to come. Congrats to Sarah Keyes...her partners ought to watch out!


Best Bushwacker of the Year Award — Ron Birk

Ron is (in)famous for his epic bushwacking adventures, sometimes spending more time getting to the routes than actually climbing them! Ron introduced me to his love of bushwacking this summer. He suggested we climb at Mt Webster, and mentioned that it would be a "little hike" to the slab. As a new second, I didn't know what I was getting into. The "little hike" ended up being an hour (plus) long bushwacking excursion. Ron said that he had climbed on Mt Webster before, but then admitted that last time he had gotten lost finding the routes. But this time, he said proudly, he had programmed the GPS coordinates into his phone so there was no way we would get lost. We parked at the base of Mt Webster, Ron turned on his GPS, and....the GPS said that we were 6000 kilometers away from our destination. Apparently the GPS coordinates were wrong! But despite the comedy of errors at the start, Ron led the way bushwacking, found the routes, and we spent an amazing day climbing over 1000 feet of beautiful slab. It is still one of my favorite climbing memories from the summer and it's given me a new appreciation for the Carriage Road at the Gunks!


Newest Power Climbing Couple Award — Joshua and Emily Pitts

This newlywed couple took the Rock Program this past spring. By their own admission they were not big outdoors people before this but as a result of the Rock Program they came to be totally hooked on climbing and the outdoors - single handedly keeping REI and some NH campgrounds in business. They have rapidly advanced with their skills - leading a lot and taking their first "out west" trip. They have also become members of the Mountaineering Committee.  

Newest power climbing couple (or trio?)

Newest power climbing couple (or trio?)


Nice Rack Award —  Steve Nichols 

It's not anything new that guys are traditionally attracted to nice racks. Another common guy characteristic is dwelling on the technical details of various things. But few have combined these passions to the extent of this recent graduate of the program. Meticulously analyzing the attributes of each composite piece (lightest and best), he has managed to assemble one of the most awesome racks ever seen.  

Steve NIchols showing off his "Nice Rack" award

Steve NIchols showing off his "Nice Rack" award


The Girl Who Can't Say No Award — Catherine Hubbard

This incredibly enthusiastic newcomer has totally immersed herself in everything climbing.  She has never ever been known to turn down an opportunity. Enticing people out in all sorts of conditions, donning a head lamp for "one more route", willing to try anything....  She is also starting to become active with the Mountaineering Committee and the 21st century Crux will be one of her creations.  


Frenemy Award — Alexa Rosenbloom and Chris Woodall

The Frenemy Award goes to two climbers whose partnership some might describe as 'unhealthy.' One weekend out climbing, these two frenemies decided to share a rope, and the belayer quickly sustained a black eye at the hand of the leader. She feigned forgiveness but plotted payback for the next weekend. Sporting a fresh shiner, she took the sharp end and exacted her revenge by placing gear in a wasp's nest. The original aggressor ended up with multiple stings and two swollen mitts. Now that their injuries are healed, we'd like to award Alexa Rosenbloom and Chris Woodall the Frenemy Award...and humbly suggest they re-consider their partnership in the future.


Bruised Ribs Award — Richard Doucette

This past spring we went to the Gunks and as a warm up we were doing easier climbs. After two routes we thought we'd do Belly Roll as it had been ages since either of us had done it.  Richard took the first pitch. He got to the off-width and that is when things started to go wrong.  He didn't want to get into the off-width but after some struggling felt that was the best place to be. He wedged himself in and announced he was stuck. After more struggling he managed to get un-stuck and continued on his way breathing heavily and not looking particularly stylish on the climb. I arrived at the belay and found him winded and disheveled.   He announced he thought he hurt something as it was hard to breathe. At first I thought he was kidding but then came to realize he was serious.  I finished the climb and he seconded slowly. It was nearing 3 and Richard wanted to stop to rest because his ribs hurt.

We went to the new AAC campground to set up the tent and he realized he forgot his sleeping pad. I gave him mine and being burlier than him I slept on the ground. Big mistake. The new tent platform was hard as a rock with pea stones.

The following morning Richard said he wasn't sure he could climb, he thought he bruised a rib and it hurt to breathe. We did Northern Pillar which I had to lead and then opted to go home as it hurt him too much to continue.

Diagnosis - bruised ribs - from Belly Roll!


Aside from the formal awards, many folks won some great prizes by PARTICIPATING in the annual raffle. Victor, pictured here, sold tickets and very carefully kept track of the cash.

Aside from the formal awards, many folks won some great prizes by PARTICIPATING in the annual raffle. Victor, pictured here, sold tickets and very carefully kept track of the cash.