The AAC awards more grant money to climbers than any other organization, and the odds of getting a grant are actually pretty good. The fiscal 2008 cycle had 87 applicant and 32 of them received a grant (37%!). Awards ranged from $400 to $4,500.
The grants available in 2009, most of which have an application DEADLINE OF MARCH 1st, 2009, are:
Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Awards
McNeill/Nott Award sponsored by Mountain Hardwear
Mountain Fellowship Grants
Zack Martin Breaking Barriers Grant
Scott Fischer Memorial Conservation Grant
Lara-Karena Bitenieks Kellogg Memorial Conservation Grant
The AAC Nikwax Alpine Bellwether Grant
More info and application instructions can be found at: americanalpineclub.org/grants
A Sampling of 2008's successes:Through a 2008 AAC Mountain Fellowship grant, Clint Helander completed a first ascent in a remote Alaskan mountain range full of massive, unclimbed granite spires. Although it was indeed a new route, he was following in the footsteps of one of climbing's greatest modern icons. In 1987, Conrad Anker—also through an AAC Mountain Fellowship grant—did a first ascent in a remote Alaskan mountain range full of massive, unclimbed granite spires: Kichatna Spires, making a five-day first ascent of the southeast face of Gurney Peak. This achievement, which put Anker into an elite circle of American mountaineers capable of pulling off cutting-edge climbs in bad-weather ranges, speaks to the impact of AAC grants through the years.
Then there's Chad Kellogg. He received an inaugural AAC McNeill/Nott award in 2007 to attempt a first ascent in China. While there, his wife was killed while climbing Mt. Wake in Alaska. Ironically, the McNeill/Nott award Chad received was named in honor of two female climbers who lost their lives on another Alaskan peak, Mt. Foraker. Devastated, Chad returned to the U.S. shortly after establishing base camp and started the Lara-Karena Bitenieks Kellogg Memorial Conservation Grant in her honor. In light of Chad's commitment, the AAC has awarded him with another grant in 2008, this time the Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award, to return to China to finish the climb he started the prior year. As a result, he and Dylan Johnson recently completed the first ascent of the massive southwest ridge of Siguniang (6250m).
And let's not forget Colin Haley, who with Rolando Garibotti made the first ascent of the legendary Torre Traverse in January 2008. Colin had received an AAC Mountain Fellowship grant to do the climb.
While these are some big names, plenty of AAC grants are available to young amateur climbers who may have never previously ventured beyond their home crag. So dream big, and apply quickly: http://americanalpineclub.org/grants