More Than A Summit: Mountain-Queers Celebrate Their First Scramble Trip

In this piece from Mountaineer Magazine, Mountaineers leader Louise Suhr celebrates the inaugural outing of the LGBTQ+ affinity group Mountain-Queers, and looks toward the future.
Louise Suhr Louise Suhr
Mountaineers Leader
December 15, 2018

At the top of Three Way Peak, our rainbow assortment of French macarons shone in contrast to the cloudy skies. My mood mirrored our brightly colored summit treats. This was the first on-the-ground outing of Mountain-Queers, an affinity group of LGBTQ Mountaineers that I started laying the groundwork for last August. When I began, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, now I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

My inspiration for Mountain-Queers began last May when I participated in a stewardship event for LGBTQ individuals hosted by Washington Trails Association (WTA). I brought four friends, and we all remarked how fun and supportive the experience was. As a longtime Mountaineers member, I started thinking how great it would be if our club offered something similar.

Coincidentally, a week or two later, I came across a Mountaineers blog post about affinity groups. The blog explained that an affinity group is a group of people linked by a common interest, purpose, or shared experience. Existing Mountaineers affinity groups include Retired Rovers and the Singles Activity Committee.

The Mountaineers welcomes affinity groups because they give people a stronger sense of belonging within a larger community – a major step towards creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive spaces. The Mountaineers’ blog spoke to the reasons I found the WTA event so fulfilling. The stars were aligning!

After some emails back and forth with Mountaineers staff and the Scramble Committee, I got the go-ahead to post a trip. I set the date for September 8, 2018. Some participants stumbled on the website listing, while others learned about the trip through word of mouth. We ended up with an awesome party of six for our trip to Three Way Peak in the Mount Rainier area.

We began at Chinook Pass under light sprinkles of rain, but that was the last of the precipitation. We hiked in along the Pacific Crest Trail, an easy approach which allowed us to move at a social pace and get to know each other.

Somewhere between Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap, we heard a chorus of coyotes. Although we couldn’t spot them due to low clouds, their howls made quite an impression – what a haunting sound! I’ve heard them called “song dogs,” which is very appropriate. Heading into the basin north of Sourdough, we encountered more critters and paused to watch the antics of several marmots and pikas. 

Eventually, it was time to leave the established trail and begin the scramble. We found the route relatively straightforward (no pun intended!) and not as technically difficult as the rating suggested. Unfortunately, there were no views of Rainier, but we could spy Silver King. Our French macarons provided a wonderful exclamation point to the summit.

As we ate lunch, hiked out, and stopped for after-scramble treats in Enumclaw, we talked about the role of an LGBTQ affinity group within The Mountaineers. It’s not that I’ve felt personally discriminated against within the organization, it’s that I’m often slightly on guard, and it’s such a comforting experience to be able to put that on hold for at while. And, of course, it’s always great to meet like-minded outdoors lovers. The others agreed. “It was a great group on a fun scramble,” said one participant. “Here’s to hoping for more queer outings!”

As a group, we discussed ways to grow our fledging affinity group. The first step, we agreed, was to find ways to connect with other LGBTQ Mountaineers. After the trip, I worked with Mountaineers staff to post a blog and create an interest survey available at mountaineers.org/mountain-queers. I invite any LGBTQ Mountaineers who’d like to participate in Mountain-Queers activities and events to check it out and connect with us.

In the future, we’d like to offer more events and trips, cultivate new activity leaders, and build a strong sense of community. The Mountaineers is launching a new Inclusion Committee to support affinity groups like ours, and determine other ways in which we can work as an organization to make the outdoor experience more inclusive for everyone. Our hope is that September’s scramble is the first of many more outings to come. Till then!


Louise Suhr is a scramble, snowshoe, and Nordic ski trip leader, working on her Rainier 100 Peaks. If you're interested in MountainQueers, email Louise at ldsuhr@gmail.com

If you identify as LGBTQIA+ and are interested in participating in (or leading) Mountaineers trips and events with the Mountain-Queers affinity group, please fill out the interest survey here!  This will help us understand what types of trips we can host in the future, and who we should contact to participate.


This article originally appeared in our Winter 2019 issue of Mountaineer  Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, click here.


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