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Members of the Full Circle expedition team have successfully summited the world’s highest mountain, becoming the first all-black team to do so. Along with ten highly-skilled Nepali Sherpa guides, American climbers Manoah Ainuu, Rosemary Saal, Demond ‘Dom’ Mullins, Abby Dione, Eddie Taylor, Thomas Moore and Kenyan climber James Kagambi proudly reached Everest‘s peak on the 12th May, with all team members and guides safely returning to Basecamp afterwards.
The expedition led by Philip Henderson is a landmark event in Everest’s 60-year history and for mountaineering itself, diversifying the face of expedition and bringing representation to the highest point on Earth. The expedition involved countless hours of dedicated training and acclimatisation over more than 36 days, and the support of guides and Basecamp technicians.
Prior to the Full Circle expedition, it is understood that out of around 6,000 recorded ascents since the first in 1953, only 10 of those were by black climbers
Former outdoor instructor and expedition leader Henderson did not attempt the summit, but guided the team to Basecamp and directed the push to the top from there. With almost 30 years experience in the outdoors, multiple expeditions including Denali, Kilimanjaro and a previous Everest attempt under his belt, Henderson assembled a strong team of climbers with high chances of a successful ascent, having been involved with the expedition since its formative stages. In a post on the Full Circle Instagram page, he said:
‘I am deeply honoured to report that seven members of the Full Circle Everest team reached the summit on May 12. While a few members, including myself, did not summit, all members of the climb and Sherpa teams have safely returned to Basecamp where we will celebrate this historic moment!’
The initially crowdfunded, grassroots project was shelved back in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic’s implications on travel and Everest being closed for climbing from both the China-controlled and Nepalese sides of the mountain. But as borders began to re-open and the team put their plans into action, the expedition quickly attracted a number of high-profile sponsors and by November 2021 the team were able to place a deposit on the expedition and in January this year, touched down in Kathmandu on a training trip, commencing preparation for the ascent.
Prior to the Full Circle expedition, it is understood that out of around 6,000 recorded ascents since the first in 1953, only 10 of those were by black climbers. The expedition represents ‘a zenith in generational perseverance’, aiming to ‘showcase the tenacity and strength of these climbers, and highlight the barriers that continue to exist for Black communities in accessing the outdoors’, according to the team’s website.
The Full Circle Everest expedition aims to highlight disparities in access to national parks and other outdoor spaces for Black communities, as well as participation levels in activities such as climbing, cycling and winter sports, and to ‘inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers of colour to continue chasing their personal summits’.
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