Mountain Clubs or Country Clubs?


Unlike bigger mountains out west, the craggy granite outcroppings of New Hampshire’s White Mountains and Vermont’s Green Mountains are within a day’s drive of about 75 million people. Each summer, mountain clubs and other non-profits get to work educating hikers about Leave No Trace and the responsibility of land stewardship.

But not all mountain clubs are created equal. The old and now-behemoth Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is coming under frequent fire these days from hikers who claim that the AMC has abandoned its commitment to the mountains and the ordinary folks who trek through them. Instead, the AMC is building quasi-resorts such as Crawford Notch’s new Highland Center to attract wealthy visitors and corporate groups. Other smaller and less controversial groups inlcude Vermont’s Green Mountain Club (GMC), the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), and the Guy Waterman Alpine Stewardship Fund.

The Guy Waterman Fund, which offers grants for land stewardship and education, was established in memory of a long-time dedicated White Mountain advocate who, along with his wife, Laura, was instrumental in raising environmental awareness in the northeast mountains. Their fabulously well-written and suprisingly funny books include Backwoods Ethics, Wilderness Ethics, and Forest and Crag.

Laura Waterman, by the way, also recently wrote a memoir, Losing the Garden, about her life with Guy at their Vermont homestead, where for twenty-seven years they lived without heat, running water, or electricity while penning over ten books and countless articles from the kitchen table of their two-room cabin.