There is already a small minority of people who have climbed Mount Everest, 4,000 people to be exact. But, of those 4,000 people, only eight of them have been Black, according to CNN.
That’s 0.002 percent. They will double that number with the number of people going on this expedition alone.
Full Circle is the first team of Black climbers to attempt a summit of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, according to their website.
According to UW News, the success rate of summiting Mount Everest has doubled in the last 30 years, even though the amount of climbers has increased. The current death rate has been at 1 percent since 1990.
Good sign for our climbers.
Rosemary Saal, a member of Full Circle says, according to CNN, “It is an expedition that is certainly about climbing. It is about spending time in the mountains, but it is also about building community, global community. And it’s about changing the narrative for the Black community, particularly in the United States and how we interact with outdoor spaces.”
One critical element of Full Circle’s work is being respectful to the local Nepalis and to the Sherpas who accompany climbing groups on their ascents.
Full Circle has vowed to pay the Sherpas more money than they usually make, knowing that these men are often supporting entire families or communities based solely on their mountaineering income, yet they are often relegated to the role of extras when it comes to handing out accolades.
Take the most famous Everest climb, for example — it was Sir Edmund Hillary who got the lion’s share of attention in 1953, with his Sherpa guide and colleague Tenzing Norgay’s name not added to the record books for decades.
In addition, Hillary was referred to as the first person to climb to the top of Everest, even though there were many accounts of Sherpas reaching the highest peak before foreigners had ever set foot in the country.
Dione notes that Full Circle aims to “decolonize” Everest climbs. It isn’t just about increasing the visibility of mountaineers of color but about using inclusive language.
The founder of Full Circle, Phil Henderson, has been a pioneer and leader for Black people interested in the outdoors. He has led an all-Black climbing team to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano in Tanzania and is also an instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming, whose goal is to teach wilderness and leadership skills to its students, according to CNN.
Initially interested in football, in 2000 Henderson also led an all-Black climbing team to the top of Mount Kenya. He is also the only current member of the team to summit Mount Everest previously. In 2012, he was the only Black member of a climbing expedition who summited the world’s highest peak.
More from CNN on the group of all-Black climbers:
The group of nine climbers arrived in Nepal in January 2022 to begin the altitude acclimation process.
Should all of Full Circle’s members complete their climb, the number of Black people to have reached the top of Mount Everest will double immediately.
The costs that come with climbing the world’s highest peak can be prohibitive.
Full Circle Everest now has a group of corporate sponsors including North Face, Summit Coffee, Smartwool and Mountain Safety Research (MSR).
Black people around the world will be rooting for this group as they make history!