Two smiling men

First In-Person Encounters at Queer Ascent

Dispatch No. 1
June 17, 2023 | 12:01 P.M. PT

Meeting Jordan in person was like being reunited with an old friend. It feels like we’ve known each other forever.” — Expedition Leader Lance Garland

On May 31, expedition leader Lance Garland flew down to Truckee, California, to attend expedition climbing expert Jordan Cannon’s event, Queer Ascent, a place for LGBTQ+ climbers of all skill levels to learn from world-class athletes within their community. At the event, the two Hidden Compass Pathfinders met in person for the first time.

A group of smiling people.

Queer climbers of all skill levels gathered in Truckee for Pathfinder Prize-winner Jordan Cannon’s event, Queer Ascent. Photo:

Lance and Jordan have been working together on Beyond the False Summit for almost a year. And recently, they published a piece together in Climbing. But meeting in person at Queer Ascent was special.

Jordan Cannon

Hosting Arc’teryx Queer Ascent in Truckee was perhaps the proudest moment of my climbing year to date. Partially for creating an event that I would actually be excited to go to myself, but mainly for the incredible turnout from the queer community (climbing and non-climbing!) and the impact it had on their lives. 

All in all, the weekend was a huge success and a great way to kick off Pride Month. Not to mention, I finally got to meet Lance in person for the first time and had a great time hanging out with him … We’re all really looking forward to carrying the momentum from Queer Ascent into the summer!

Two men, winners of the Hidden Compass 2024 Pathfinder Prize, standing side by side.

After collaborating virtually for months, Hidden Compass Pathfinder Prize winners Lance and Jordan met in person for the first time in Truckee, California. Photo courtesy of Lance Garland.

Lance Garland

Meeting Jordan in person was like being reunited with an old friend. It feels like we’ve known each other forever. Then I got to take an aid-climbing clinic from an openly gay man of color, which was incredible. 

Being a part of a group of queer climbers was something I’ve never experienced before. When I met the outdoor drag icon, Pattie Gonia, she told me, “We’re mustache sisters?” It was so refreshing to be seen and connected to my culture.

Drag queen and man in velvet jacket posing for photo.

Pattie Gonia and Lance — “mustache sisters” — pose for the camera. Photo courtesy of Lance Garland.

I’m often the only gay person while I’m out climbing, so to be around a whole community made me feel connected in a way I’ve never experienced. At that class, I met Sydney. We were instantly friendly and had a wonderful day climbing. 

I asked her, “Did you have queer role models when you started climbing? Do you know about any queer climbers in history?”

She responded, “I did not! No queer climbers at all. And no queer climbers in history. I feel like before this weekend I knew of almost none!”

She let me read her upcoming essay in an anthology called FLOW, a book of counternarratives from women in extreme sports. Sydney talks a bit more about her experience as a first-generation Vietnamese woman from a refugee immigrant family.

“As a queer woman of color, I rarely run into people like me in alpine rock climbing. There are many things I attribute this to such as a lack of mentorship, cost, and general inaccessibility.”

A woman smiling while rock climbing.

Sydney, one of the climbers at Queer Ascent, shared some of her story with Lance as they climbed. Photo courtesy of Lance Garland.

For the team of Beyond the False Summit, Sydney’s story is exactly why we find value in searching for the queer pioneers of alpinism on our Matterhorn expedition. Everyone deserves their own story. We can’t wait to find ours and to share it with you.

A smiling man in a red helmet takes a selfie while mountain climbing, a forested landscape stretches behind him.

Lance snaps a climbing selfie. Photo: Lance Garland.