With Sights On Afghanistan’s Highest Peak, Ridgway Mountaineer Continues Teaching Afghan Women Climbing Skills

Listen Now
Photo: Danika Gilbert, ASCEND: Leadership Through Athletics_Bamiyan, Afghanistan
ASCEND team members confer with local shepherds on the final approach to basecamp in the Koh-e-Baba Mountains, Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

Thirteen Afghan women made history two years ago. They were the first to summit a then-unnamed peak that's nearly 17,000 foot tall in the Panjshir Valley. Danika Gilbert of Ridgway, led the group. She has continued to go back to Afghanistan to work with young women on their mountaineering and leadership skills through a nonprofit called ASCEND: Leadership Through Athletics.

Photo: Danika Gilbert, ASCEND: Leadership Through Athletics
Ascend team members and expedition leader Danika Gilbert approach basecamp after a long day walking.

The team's first big climb is the subject of a new documentary, "Ascending Afghanistan: Rising Women." It's produced by VICE Impact, VICE Media's advocacy publication, and screens Monday at 7 p.m. at Denver's new Alamo Drafthouse in the Sloan's Lake neighborhood.

Gilbert tells Colorado Matters that climbing Mount Noshaq, Afghanistan's highest peak with an elevation of 24,580 feet, continues to be a big goal for the group. They abandoned plans to climb the mountain two years ago when threats from the Taliban raised security concerns.