California Institute of Technology

About the Caltech Alpine Club


The Caltech Alpine Club is student organization--welcoming all members of the Caltech community--dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of the outdoors. Caltech does not have a separate "rock-climbing" club, so the Alpine Club serves the role of a general climbing club, and the club has interests in rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, skiing and first aid. We sponsor a variety of events, most notably the Banff Film Festival, and are partly in charge of the small bouldering gym on campus and the rental shoes.

The club has sponsored expeditions to the Himalayas and Patagonia in the past, and also sponsors more frequent trips to Southern California destinations. All trips are open to the entire Caltech community, and this includes friends and families of students/researchers/workers. Additionally, the club has some gear which it currently lends out free of charge to members, and it may purchase more gear for the same purpose (and lend it free of charge or at a nominal rate). The club also serves as a community organization and supports environmental causes in Southern California. The club runs a mailing list; click here to join.

Makeup of club

According to the December 2005 survey...

  • 21% are undergrads, 42% are grad students, < 1% are staff, 13% are postdocs, 8% are faculty or JPL and 13% are otherwise affiliated (spouses, family, alumni/alumnae).
  • Most members rate themselves as "casual" or "moderate" in seriousness; 23% are "serious" and 5% are "hardcore".
  • The club has a lot of experience at indoor and outdoor sport climbing and non-technical mountain climbing, a bit less experience at trad climbing and technical mountain climbing, and we have the least experience on glacier routes and at ice climbing.

Brief History of the club

The Caltech Alpine club was founded in 1987 by Fritz Nordby. Previous presidents have been, in order, Fritz Nordby, Andy Wells, Peter Green, Ben Arthur, Kirk Hansen, Eric Wintenberger, Paul Wiggins, Brett Maune and Daniel Lieberman. In December of 2005, Stephen Becker and Sean Tulin took over the club leadership. In past years, the club has sponsored a few expeditions to other states and countries, and hopefully this practice will continue.

UPDATE: the club has been around much longer than 1987! However, we do not have many records of previous activity. We do have the following wonderful documents: the long-lost Climber's Guide To The California Institute of Technology (3.8 MB PDF), and this old article profiling Caltech's climbers (1.5 MB PDF).