Prestigious honor for Palo Alto man

Nick Clinch to receive American Alpine Club Gold Medal

Palo Alto resident Nick Clinch on Saturday will receive the American Alpine Club Gold Medal at the 2006 American Alpine Club annual meeting at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel in Bartlett, N.H.

The AAC Gold Medal is a lifetime achievement award for contributions to the American Alpine Club and mountaineering in general. The actions of the individuals who receive this award are so extraordinary that it has only been awarded once before.

Clinch is regarded as one of America's most successful expedition leaders. He led the first ascent of Gasherbrum I-also known as Hidden Peak (26,250 feet)-in 1958 and Masherbrum (25,660 feet)in 1960, the two highest peaks first climbed by Americans.

Hidden Peak is the only 8,000-meter peak first climbed by Americans, and his account of the expedition was published as the book "A Walk in the Sky." He also led the 1966-67 expedition to Antarctica that resulted in the first ascent of Mount Vinson, the continent's highest peak, and several subsidiary peaks in the region.

His explorations have included numerous ascents in the United States, the British Columbia Coast Range, Peru and China. Clinch was made a Fellow of the prestigious Explorers Club in 1969.

Beyond Clinch's important role in the history of American mountaineering, his devotion to the AAC has helped the club thrive for the 52 years of his membership. Nick served as club president from 1968 to 1970. He has been instrumental in the growth of the library and the American Mountaineering Museum, which will break ground this summer.

"Few have contributed as much to American mountaineering," said Phil Powers, executive director of the American Alpine Club. "And none have done as much for our club."

Palo Alto Weekly staff

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