They made it to the top of the world — while also making history.
The Full Circle Everest team, which began its journey into the Himalayas after months of training and trekking, has become the first all-Black American expedition to make it to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world above sea level.
“I am deeply honored to report that seven members of the Full Circle Everest team reached the summit today (May 12),” team leader Phil Henderson said in a post on Full Circle Everest’s Instagram. “While a few members, including myself, did not summit, all members of the climb and sherpa teams have safely returned to Base Camp where we will celebrate this historic moment!”
Seven Full Circle Everest team members — Manoah Ainuu (a professional climber for The North Face), Eddie Taylor, Rosemary Saal, Demond Mullins, Thomas Moore, James “KG” Kagami, and Evan Green — successfully made it to the summit of Mount Everest on Thursday. In addition to Henderson, other team members include Frederick Campbell and Abby Dione, and the team was supported by The North Face and the VF Foundation, among other sponsors.
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“We’re all Black people … there is a lack of representation of Black people in mountaineering and in high-altitude mountaineering,” Henderson told NPR in a 2021 interview. “There’s so few of us at this level that it’s our duty, in a sense, to bring this to our communities, to our young people and talk about the benefits of being outdoors and connecting with nature and having a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.”
The team was supported in their climb to the summit Sherpa guides, including Pasang Nima Sherpa, Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa, Phurtemba Sherpa, Dawa Chhiri Sherpa, Sonam Gaylje Sherpa, Nima Nuru Sherpa, Chopal Sherpa, Chawang Lhendup Sherpa, Tasha Gyalje Sherpa, Amrit Ale, Pemba Sherpa (camera crew) and Nawang Tenji Sherpa (camera crew), according to a release from The North Face.
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The first recorded expeditions to Mount Everest were in 1921, and in 1953, Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa climber, and Edmund Hillary of New Zealand made the first official successful ascent of Mount Everest. South African Sibusiso Vilane in 2003 became the first Black man to reach the peak, and Sophia Danenberg was the first African American and Black woman to summit in 2006.