A group of queer mountaineers are literally taking LGBTQ+ activism to new heights, as they plan to scale the world’s highest mountains to promote queer visibility. Dastan Kasmamytov is an LGBTQ+ activist and founder of the Pink Summits campaign. After cycling from Central Asia to Germany, he decided to conquer the seven summits.
The goal of this campaign is to conquer the highest mountains of each continent and decorate them with LGBTQ+ symbols. They aim to put a pride flag on each summit, but the initiative represents much more than that. They aim to amplify the voices of the queer community and promote visibility.
On the Pink Summits website, the team document their experiences with their own blogs. The team also fundraise for local initiatives helping queer people. They organise hiking and rock-climbing community events and provide mentorship for other LGBTQ+ mountaineers.
Dastan was born in Kyrgyzstan, which has sensational mountain scenery. This is where he came to appreciate nature and learned how to mountaineer. He is a programmer and works as a software developer for IT companies in Germany.
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He is a gay activist and was one of the first who openly came out in the media in Kyrgyzstan. The backlash from coming out in support of the LGBTQ+ community forced him to move to Europe to pursue a safer life.
In the beginning, Dastan aimed to create a team of queer mountaineers to help him reach each summit. He has since recruited fourteen other people since embarking on this mission. The team have reached 4 of the summits: Mt Elbrus, Mt Kosciusko, Mt Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc. This year the group of queer mountaineers plan to scale Aconcagua in South America. You can support this expedition by donating to their GoFundMe page.
In August of this year, the team took part in an expedition in Kyrgystan. In the last part of this expedition, the team scaled Vladimir Putin Peak, a summit lying 4,446 metres above sea level. Before 2011 the mountain was unnamed, but in February of that year, it was named after the Russian president.
In an interview with GCN, Pink Summits founder Dastan Kasmamytov expressed his disapproval of the mountain being named after Vladimir Putin, and why the team decided to scale it in the first place.
“The last part of this expedition was going to Pik Putin. This year a local mountaineer from Kyrgyzstan went up there and put up the Ukrainian flag and the next day it was taken down. We knew this wasn’t right, so we wanted to replace it [the Ukrainian flag] and also bring the rainbow flag on top of that. The rainbow flag is not only a symbol of the LGBTQ+ community but also a symbol for peace,”
Dastan detailed the difficulty of the hike due to the dangerous terrain, but also how the team managed to scale the mountain and place the two flags in a certain part of the rock where they wouldn’t be removed again.
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