The Alpine Club is Caltech's premier club for anything vaguely mountain- or outdoor-related. The Club has interests in rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, skiing, mountain biking, 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 the Caltech campus and the rental shoes.
Our mission is to foster the Caltech outdoor community by encouraging mentorship, responsibility, inclusivity, and radness.
According to some meta-data the old wiki (retired in 2020), the Caltech Alpine club was founded in 1987 by Fritz Nordby, however there are references that suggest the club existed as early as circa 1950. The club boasts around 200 active members, with approximately 50% grad students, 10% undergrads, plus postdocs, faculty, staff, and JPL and community members.
Until sometime in the 2000s, the cornerstone Alpine Club event was an instructional mountaineering trip up Mount Baldy. This event was ended due to the dubious legal nature of club members instructing mountaineering courses without proper certification. Today, we seek to replicate this educational experience by offering a number of professionally-instructed, club-subsidized climbing, mountaineering, and skiing safety courses to our members. We try to offer a few regular courses every year or every other year, including Rock Rescue, Intro to Trad Climbing and Anchor Building, Avalanche Safety Level 1, Wilderness First Aid, and Intro to Mountaineering. Some of the guide services we work with for these courses include Stone Adventures, Sierra Mountain Center, and NOLS.
The Caltech Alpine Club has hosted the Banff Mountain Film Festival every year since 2001, except 2019/2020, as the institute closed due to the Coronavirus 3 days before the event. We have hosted the Reel Rock Film Festival since 2010, and the No Man's Land Film Festival since 2020. We also host talks every few weeks, which are given by our members and community members from other local outdoor organizations.
We also offer a variety of resources to our members to help reduce the cost and increase accessibility to mountaineering. The Alpine Club was originally responsible for the bouldering cave in the Caltech gym. Today, we are partly in charge of running the bouldering cave and climbing shoe rentals. We also have a modest selection of gear for members to borrow, including touring skis and a splitboard, snow shoes, crampons, and many other items. Some of these items are rented out of the Caltech Y. The club has been able to arrange a number of group and student discounts in the past.