History has been made as the first all-Black climbing team successfully summited Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain above sea level. The team, Full Circle Everest, announced that seven climbers and eight Napali guides from their group had reached the summit on May 12, their 39th day in the Himalayas.
“After countless hours of training, preparing, and dedication, the team is getting ready to make a push for the summit,” Full Circle Everest announced on their 36th day. “This historic feat is a community effort that would not have been possible without all of you.”
The summiting team included Manoah Ainuu of Montana, James “KG” Kagambi of Kenya, Rosemary Saal of Seattle, Desmond “Dom” Mullins of New York City, Abby Dione of Florida, and Eddie Taylor and Thomas Moore of Colorado. The Full Circle Everest’s leader, Phil Henderson of Colorado, did not summit but played a key role in the success of this mission.
“Being the leader of an Everest expedition is working hard and having fun,” Henderson wrote in a social media post.“It doesn’t mean being out front or being the strongest member of the team. Support for the team may mean sitting quietly one day and talking about managing risk of injury or death the next. It means building a team where there is no separation from climbers to cooks to climbing Sherpa support. Supporting everyone and welcoming others into our camp is just as important as reaching the summit.”
Highlighting the impact of this historic achievement, Full Circle Everest noted in a statement that the first non-Black Americans reached the summit of Everest in 1963, which happens to be the same year Dr. Martin Luther King jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. It wasn’t until 40 years later that the first Black climber, Sibusiso Vilano, summited Mount Everest in 2003. There have only been 10 Black climbers to summit the mountain since then, and now this expedition nearly doubled that number.
“The Full Circle Everest Team represents a zenith in generational perseverance,” the team wrote on their website. “This expedition will showcase the tenacity and strength of these climbers, and highlight the barriers that continue to exist for Black communities in accessing the outdoors.”
A few days after the summit, the team announced that they had been working with REI Co-Op Studios and Westbrook to produce a documentary film on the historic journey.
“We are so excited to showcase this story through a film that will inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers of color to continue chasing their personal summits.” the team wrote in a statement. “This was at heart a community project! We really appreciate your support and your help getting the first all-Black team to Everest and ultimately to the summit.”
Cover Photo from Full Circle Everest Facebook post. Camera crew:Pemba Sherpa & Nawang Tenji Sherpa