In 1953, Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay became the first people to scale Mount Everest. The summit is still seeing historic firsts nearly 70 years later. The latest trailblazers belong to the Full Circle Everest expedition, the first all-Black group of climbers to stand atop the highest peak on Earth.
Full Circle Everest reached the mountain's summit on Thursday, May 12, Outside reports. The group comprised six climbers from the U.S.—Manoah Ainuu of Bozeman, Montana; Rosemary Saal of Seattle; Desmond “Dom” Mullins of New York City; Abby Dione of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Eddie Taylor of Boulder, Colorado; and Thomas Moore of Denver—and one Kenyan climber, James Kagambi.
Team leader Philip Henderson—who lives in Cortez, Colorado—directed the party from the base camp. A ninth member, Fred Campbell, from Seattle, Washington, pulled out of the expedition before making it to the summit. The group was accompanied by eight Nepali guides.
Thousands of people have successfully climbed Mount Everest since 1953, but prior to this recent achievement, only 10 of them were Black. This statistic inspired Full Circle Everest to organize their history-making mission.
"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," the group's website reads. "This historic attempt will inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers of color to continue chasing their personal summits. "
Racial disparities can be seen across outdoor activities—even those that are less rigorous than climbing the world's tallest mountain. In 2020, the group BlackAFInSTEM launched Black Birders Week to foster a sense of empowerment and belonging for Black naturalists of all experience levels.