GO Aconcagua Expedition Sparks Debate In Mountaineering Community

By Mike Boisvert.

The mainstream mountaineering community had this to say about the upcoming GO Aconcagua Expedition. "While it might be interesting to read about those who are handicapped climbing up challenging mountains, one's sexual orientation is of no significance of interest with regard to mountaineering. By singling out gays on this context, they are implying that their mountaineering exploits are somehow special and noteworthy, simply because of their sexual proclivities."

Another comment was, "Does anyone really believe that no gay person has ever climbed higher than Island Peak? Thousands of people have climbed higher than 20,000 feet, and surely one of those gay folks must have snuck up one of those higher peaks when the macho types weren't looking!"

My response is that there is generally a lot of interest about personal traits involving mountaineering.

For example, certain folks are interested in "doctors" having climbed Aconcagua. People like to know how many of "X" profession or "X" state climbed Aconcagua. This applies to many climbing feats.

People eat up that stuff. Newspapers and magazines LOVE to cover their homestate heroes. What does being from Ohio have to do with Aconcagua? Plenty if you're a native Buckeye. Same thing with gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Personal traits and personal association is a valid connection, whether your hobby is mountaineering or macrame.

Unlike handicapped mountaineers, this expedition has nothing to do with one's ability to climb. It's about being "openly gay," it's about "not sneaking up the mountain while the macho types aren't looking," it's about being a source of pride for the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.

Gay Outdoors (GO) is inviting gays and lesbians to break the gay mountaineering altitude record! It was last set in May 2002 in Nepal’s Island Peak at 20,360 feet. (Editor's note: This is not about breaking a gay individual record...but a self-led, all gay expedition record...with the team standing together on the summit waiving the rainbow flag...I know gay folks who have previously climbed higher individually...and they were too embarassed to flash the rainbow flag among the 'straight' climbers...so much for gay pride...) Plans are underway to climb Mt. Aconcagua in January 2005. Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Americas, and the highest mountain in the world outside of Asia.

If you are considering becoming a member of this expedition and want input into the planning you can be on their e-mail list. Contact Mike at mailto:gocenter@adelphia.net.

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