Left to right: Eddie Taylor, Thomas Moore, Rosemary Saal, James “KG” Kagami, Phil Henderson, Fred Campbell and Manoah Ainuu. Photo: The North Face/Full Circle Everest
Can you guess how many people have successfully climbed Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak? About 4,000 people. That’s it.
Now, can you guess how many of those people were black? Eight.
Well, that was until a month ago when the seven members of the full circle Everest team successfully climbed Mount Everest on May 12, always the first all-black climbing team to climb the highest peak in the world.
With their success, they almost double the number of black climbers who have successfully scaled the mountain in world history.
The members of the team include Manoah Ainu, EddieTaylor, Rosemary Hall, Demon “Dom” Mullins, Thomas Moore, James “KG” Kagamiand Eve Green.
But her main intention was not just to make history.
“For this expedition, that wasn’t the main goal, it was a bonus,” Saal said. “The main goal was to be here as a team of black climbers and to increase their presence in mountaineering as there is a huge disparity in the people who participate in outdoor activities.”
There is a stigma in the climbing community that black people don’t know how to climb. So one might imagine that this large circle of blacks might have come as a shock to other climbers who have been to the Nepal-Tibet border.
“Since we’re there and all the other customers and climbers see us, they know we’re pretty darn strong,” Ainuu said.
Photo: The North Face/Full Circle Everest
Full Circle seeks to represent a zenith in generational tenacity, demonstrating the tenacity and strength of these climbers and highlighting the barriers that remain for black communities to access the great outdoors website.
Although the expedition to Mount Everest may just have ended for this particular group of climbers, they hope their journey will inspire future generations of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, guides, and climbers of color to continue chasing their “personal peaks.” .
Your journey can be proof that any “peak” can be hunted, no matter how difficult it may be.
But it took preparation. Phil Henderson, the founder of Full Circle, didn’t wake up one day and just decide he wanted to make history. Everyone on the team prepared for this journey every time they explored an outdoor activity, be it mountain biking, skiing or mountaineering.
For someone like you and me who can’t understand a 29,000 foot mountain, there were challenges these climbers had to face despite their experience. Just being at that height can cause people to lose up to 20 pounds. Some might assume that you have to finish a mountain this high as quickly as possible, but these climbers had to set their own pace. It can take up to two months for the expedition to complete.
Photo: The North Face/Full Circle Everest
But while that trip was a physical experience they may never forget, the trip to Nepal alone was a cultural experience that will stay with them forever.
“It was a good next step for all team members to try to climb Mount Everest,” said Henderson. “But it was an even better move to bring them to Nepal and have them learn about the culture and the environment and bring them back here and let other people know that this is within your reach.”
For many members, the most fulfilling part of their journey has been the relationships they have formed with local people.
“That was one of the most magical things about the whole experience,” he said Adina Scott, one of the members of Full Circle. “You will not find better people and hospitality in this region of Nepal. If you show up and you’re real and you talk to people, you’re going to make friends, get invited over people’s homes, and keep in touch with people.”
A journey as monumental and historic as this is sure to have a profound impact on the black community and black climbers in the future.
But in the words of Phil Henderson, “The impact we want is already happening. It happened before we went on this expedition, and it’s been happening ever since. We have school kids who know the names of all the team members and draw pictures of us wanting to be climbers. So the effect is already there.”
As Black climbers in the public eye, Full Circle will continue to have an impact and you will see many more Black climbers summiting Mount Everest in the years to come.