Volunteer Spotlight: Alex Wildman

Alex Wildman is the AAC Philly Chapter Co-Chair, and one of the two subjects in the film Hold Fast. The film follows American rock climber and mountaineer Conrad Anker, and Alex as his mentee and a cancer survivor, as they attempt to scale El Capitan in Yosemite, California. Their story is an inspiring one that focuses on teaming up to support each other on a climb, and putting their traumatic brushes with mortality behind them. Read on to hear more from Alex on his experience, his journey, and what it means to “Hold Fast”.

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Battle of the Blocks Captain Spotlight: Rebecca Levenberg

Rebecca is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the Center City Chinchillas! Rebecca discovered climbing in 2011, after a traumatic accident changed her body and life. Now an above-knee amputee -- and bionic woman -- she climbs at Go Vertical, has medaled in two Adaptive National Championships, and competed on Team USA in the 2018 Paraclimbing World Championships in Austria! When she’s not climbing, Rebecca works as a peer mentor coordinator at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital and volunteers with hospital patients and adaptive climbers.

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Battle of the Blocks Captain Spotlight: Jacob Werderits

Jacob is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the West Philly Wallabies! He is originally from the Central Coast of California, but now finds his home in West Philadelphia. During the day, Jacob spends his time working with startups to build their data infrastructure to leverage the information their business collects. Outside of work, he loves cooking, camping, biking, and climbing.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Emily Dinan

Emily grew up in Bucks County, PA and went on to spend many years learning to move and build grit as a modern dancer in NYC. Since then, she has discovered her passion for all things outdoors and resolved to spend as much time as possible sleeping under the stars. An epic road trip to 24 national parks in 2017 was Emily's first time learning the ropes on rock outside. She's been all in ever since - learning to trad climb at the Gunks and more recently trying to swing an ice climbing axe. Emily's in it to learn and experience as much of the climbing world as possible with a zest for life and love of laughing at herself.

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Meet a presenter: Megan Getz

Megan grew up in Northeast Philly and currently lives in Fishtown. With a marathon and a century ride under her belt, she keeps things moving and spends her weekends biking, running, hiking and climbing. At this year’s story swap, Megan and her girlfriend Amelia will be talking about their bike tour in the Westfjords of Iceland: “I loved biking in an isolated area of a beautiful country. We would bike for hours looking at beautiful nature without any cars passing us.”  

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Meet a presenter: Kathleen Kerrigan

Kathleen is a caver turned climber currently living the good life in West Philly. While most of her focus these days is on developing on her trad skills, she enjoys project caving as well. When she's not on or under rocks, you can find her backpacking, paddling, biking, playing nerdy card games, or caring for the container garden/minor jungle at her apartment. Kathleen’s story is about her team’s expedition last winter to discover, survey, and map undocumented caves in Cambodia.  

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Meet a presenter: Matt Gowie

Matt is a Philly native who got into climbing when he moved back to Philadelphia after college. When he moved to Seattle a few months later, his climbing hobby turned into a full on obsession and he would regularly drive the 6 hours each way to get outside at Oregon’s Smith Rock on the weekends. After traveling the world for a little over a year, Matt has returned to Philly and will be telling us about his epic on Rib of Goat in Mazama, Washington.

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Meet a presenter: Rebecca Levenberg

Rebecca is a teacher and writer who discovered climbing after a traumatic accident changed her body and life. In November 2010, she was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle to work. Now an above-knee amputee – and bionic woman -- she climbs at Go Vertical, has medaled in two Adaptive National Championships, and is currently competing on Team USA in the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships (#innsbruck2018)! When she’s not at the climbing gym, Rebecca volunteers as a peer mentor for new amputees, and has created a hospital healing garden to bring comfort to patients and families. In her story, Straight Up with a Twist, Rebecca will describe her journey as an adaptive athlete and how climbing helped her find equal footing in two worlds.

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Meet a presenter: Andrew Piotrowski

Andrew is a Chester County resident who is passionate about all things outside—including trail running, backpacking, Kayaking, and Snowboarding, and even started a climbing apparel brand, Ausabl, with his wife Faith. While he prefers to go fast—like completing the Presidential Traverse in sub 9 hours—things don’t always go as planned. At this year’s swap, Andrew will be talking about his epic on the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney.

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Meet a presenter: Amelia Wisniewski-Barker

Amelia is a jack of all trades—bike touring, backpacking, hiking, unicycling, performing as a singer-songwriter, studying sign language interpreting and singing in a hippy church choir are just a few of her many hobbies. Amelia will be presenting with her girlfriend Megan about their bikepacking trip to Iceland, where they fjorded rivers, rode their road bikes on mountain bike terrain, and dealt with an insane swarm of bugs.

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Meet a presenter: Garrett Gibbons

Originally from Michigan, Garrett grew up playing in the woods and building snowboarding ramps in the yard. When he moved to Philly for his Postdoc at University of Pennsylvania, a friend introduced him to gym climbing and he was hooked. Garrett’s story, From Gumby to Butt Face, is about his one-year journey that started with seeing The Chief out of a car window, and his determination to return with the skills he needed to climb it.

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