Only 5,000 people have ever reached the peak of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on the planet at 29,028 feet above sea level — the greatest challenge in existence for outdoorsmen and mountaineers alike. But now, a team of nine Black men and women are finalizing their plans to summit the mountain in early 2022. If successful, they will not only double the number of Black climbers to ever stand on Mount Everest (only eight individuals have attempted the climb in the past) but also be the first all-Black team to reach the mountain’s peak.
Thrillist’s Janae Price reported that the group of climbers, better known as Full Circle Expedition, comprises nine experienced climbers and is led by mountaineer Phil Henderson, who helps train guides and organizers for expeditions to the top of the world’s highest peaks.
Henderson has a long background in climbing, leading previous expeditions in both Nepal and South America, and teaching at the National Outdoor Leadership School — where he led an all-Black team of climbers to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He’s also a regular and consistent promoter of diversity in the outdoor industry, helping to bring the pastime to overlooked communities that don’t think of outdoor recreation as a place for them.
In an interview with Outside Business Journal, Henderson said that he hopes his upcoming trip “brings forward a greater conversation about Black and brown people in the outdoors and what that means: past, present and future. Being that our entire team is made up of Black people, it is an important display of leadership, commitment and teamwork to our community as well as the greater climbing world.”
Henderson’s Full Circle Expedition team includes six other men and two women, all of whom are passionate climbers and a diverse mix of people from different backgrounds.
According to Price, those members include James Kagambi, a successful mountaineer in Africa and Europe; Eddie Taylor, a chemistry teacher and high school track coach; Misha Charles, a staff member at the American Alpine Club; Demond Mullins, an Iraqi war combat veteran; and Manoah Ainuu and Frederick Campbell, both of whom are North Face-sponsored athletes.
“Rounding out the team is entrepreneur Thomas Moore and Rosemary Saal, who led the first all-Black American team to the summit of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro in 2018,” Price reported.
In a promotional video, the group, Full Circle Expedition, said that in addition to making history with their upcoming climb, their goal as a group is to “highlight the barriers that continue to exist for Black communities in accessing the outdoors.”
“This historic attempt [at Mount Everest] will inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers of color to continue chasing their personal summits,” the group said.