The Southwest Section of the American Alpine Club covers all of the fantastic Southern California and Southern Nevada climbing.  From classic areas like Joshua Tree, Red Rocks, and Tahquitz to Idyllwild, Malibu, and Mt. Charleston—the Southwest Section hosts more climbing and great weather than most folks know what to do with. The Section is active and growing daily with various climbing-related activities occurring in the Los Angeles area and Las Vegas areas.


Los Padres

Los Angeles

San Diego

Meet Your Section Chairs:

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Tony Yeary

Section Chair

Tony Yeary, a native Southern Californian, started climbing in the early 70’s at Rubidoux. Before long, he’d graduated to Big Rock, Joshua Tree, Tahquitz and Suicide, the Needles, the Valley and beyond—pursuing bigger mountains from the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades, and the Mexican Volcanoes, to the high peaks of the Andes; including several expeditions to Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. At the end of the day, however, he’ll say he’s still a boulderer at heart!

Between exploits on the rock Tony managed to earn a BA from CSUF, in Geography, specifically Geomorphology; specializing in Pleistocene Glaciology in the San Bernardino mountains of Southern California. He raised four children and retired from a career with Ralph’s Gro. Co. When not climbing, he now works at REI as a camping/climbing specialist. Tony has been an active member of the AAC for over 25 years—he eats, breathes, and sleeps climbing—from mountaineering and alpine routes to sport climbing, trad cragging, bouldering and everything in between.

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Eric O'Rafferty

Section Co-Chair

Eric’s entrée to peaks and crags began in a space not typically associated with climbing: the writing of Colin Fletcher. When he was a young New England lad, Eric dreamed of the wide open western expanses about which Fletcher wrote so engagingly. Flash forward to young adulthood and a road trip across America that was part of a move to California. Crossing from Nevada to California, Eric hit Donner Pass in April and his mind was blown wide open by the Sierra Nevada. He vowed to return; he soon did.

Initial solo Sierra backpacking lead to the pull of off-trail adventures. In turn, this ignited a desire to be more comfortable on third class + terrain. Eric figured he could pick up some additional skills at a climbing school in a place known as Mecca (aka Yosemite Valley). This experience ignited a powerful spark and climbing shifted to become his main focus.

Eric’s journey next took him to Hong Kong where he discovered a lot of highly interesting crags and learned to lead. Tales of woe and intrigue were abundant as they are with any extended period of climbing in a particular locale. Returning to southern California, he fell in love with its abundant nearby climbing in the San Gabriels, Joshua Tree, Idyllwild, and the Sierra Eastside. Mountaineering, trad, and skiing are all in his quiver. Eric now primarily boulders and practices at gritty-in-a-good-way local bouldering gym a few times a week. Eric also maintains long term Yoga and distance running practices.

After stints in the startup technology and then outdoor retail worlds, he has found his true calling as a teacher who is deeply interested in non-mainstream education with respect to both highly challenged and highly gifted individuals. Long term, he is exploring ways to help such individuals to connect with, heal, and grow in the outdoor world.

A father of four really cool kids, Eric has discovered that his children (including his students) stand amongst his greatest teachers. Along with being a teacher/nurturer, he is also a writer of absolutely no note. He is known in the virtual world as the “dirtbag dad.”