• Ashburn, VA
  • Monday, June 24, 2024


To The Mountaintop! All-Black Mountain Climbing Team Taking Sharp Aim At Mount Everest In 2022


There are 29,032 reasons that a group of nine Black people want to climb the tallest mountain in the world. They refer to their venture as not an “end,” but a “beginning” to showcase the Black outdoorsman.

That number is the height of Mount Everest (in feet) and if successful, the group Full Circle Everest will be the first all-Black group to achieve that feat. They will also nearly double the number of Black people who have successfully make it to the pinnacle of the globe. Only 10 Black people have made it to the top of Everest. Sophia Danenberg became the first African American and Black woman to climb the mountain in 2006.

Outside of displaying their own attributes of tenacity, strength and fitness, Full Circle Everest Team looks to inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers of color to continue chasing their personal summits.

"I'm nervous, but it's not really nerves. It's just a daunting task," Philip Henderson, a leader of the group, told NPR in an interview. "I tell people all the time, climbing Everest is a slow process, but the process doesn't start when you get to the mountain. We're in the process now ... the preparation you have, the training, the team building."

For this group, Everest was "a good next step," Henderson said. If not an intimidating one.

The “To the Mountaintop Nine” consist of: Henderson, Colorado; Abby Dione, Fort Lauderdale, FL; James “KG” Kagambi, Kenya: Manoah Ainuu, Bozeman, MT; Fred Campbell, Seattle, WA; Demond “Dom Mullins, New York; Rosemary Saal, Seattle WA; Eddie Taylor, Boulder CO; Thomas Moore, Denver, CO; Adina Scott, Seattle, WA. The group ranges in ages of 25 to 60 years old.

Henderson, 58, has been a mountaineer and outdoorsman for over 30 years. A former traditional-sport athlete, an injury detoured him into the outdoors lifestyle.

The Full Circle Everest team is hoping to make history next year, but it's not just about the climb itself. After the group came up with the goal of reaching the top of Mount Everest, another secondary aspiration began to take shape, one that each of them could relate to: inspiring other Black people to explore the outdoors. The Black outdoorsman and adventurer has been badly under-counted by media and under-recognized by the mainstream public.

"We're all Black people ... there is a lack of representation of Black people in mountaineering and in high-altitude mountaineering," Henderson said. The Full Circle Everest team are no spring chickens when it comes to climbing mountains. Individually, they have all scaled at or around 20,000-feet peaks. On their list of successful ascensions include Mount Denali/Mount McKinley (20,310 ft.) in Alaska (tallest mountain in the United States), Aconcagua (22,838) in Argentina and Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341) in Tanzania, East Africa. But aside such enormous accomplishments, Full Circle Everest wants to inspire more African Americans to be involved in basic outdoors activities like birdwatching, hiking and fishing.

The group plans to head to Everest in 2022, during the main climbing season in April and May, expecting a grueling 60-day expedition. They’re training now, mostly individually, but collectively are up to this grand challenge.

For more information, visit www.fullcircleeverest.com. The group are also accepting donations to help fund their trip and invite supporters to their GoFundMe page.

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NOIRE is a new online magazine that scopes the Black and multicultural community from a cutting-edge perspective. Our mantra is “Our Lives, Our Stories, Our Voices.” Our vision is to become the leading source of true, high-quality narratives of people of color.




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