First All-Black Team To Summit Everest Succeeds, Makes History

The nine mountaineers vying to be the first all-Black team to summit Mount Everest have succeeded — at least in part.

News that the American/Kenyan team reached the summit broke around 12 a.m. EDT (GMT-4).

“The Full Circle Everest team led by Philip Henderson from California has made history as the first all-Black team to stand atop the summit, the highest mountain on earth,” Jiban Ghimire, managing director of Shangri-La Nepal Treks, told The Himalayan Times.

Of the team’s nine members, Ghimire reported that at least six tagged the summit, “along with their guides.”

The team first announced that it would initiate its summit bid on May 10.

Nine Black mountaineers (seven men and two women) fill out the Full Circle climbing team: Phil Henderson, Manoah Ainuu, Fred Campbell, Abby Dione, James “KG” Kagambi, Thomas Moore, Demond “Dom” Mullins, Rosemary Saal, and Eddie Taylor.

Ghimire reported that eight Sherpas guided the team’s summit push.

Expedition photographer Evan Green and expedition technician Adina Scott complete the Full Circle roster. The two did not partake in the climb.

When the team stood on the world’s highest peak, it nearly doubled the overall number of Black Everest summiters. According to the Full Circle website, just 10 Black climbers had previously accomplished the feat.

The team’s success follows months of fundraising and years of planning and preparation. Henderson put the challenge in context in an interview with NPR.

“There is a lack of representation of Black people in mountaineering and in high-altitude mountaineering,” the veteran mountaineer said. “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.”

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.


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POD
POD
13 days ago

Congrats to the whole team. I hope this will inspire African people too, specially mine in Senegal where people automatically associate mountains to death.

Lilly E
Lilly E
13 days ago

This is awesome. Congratulations to all the climbers who managed to summit this season.

Tsering
Tsering
13 days ago

If you are naming the team but leaving the names of Sherpa people, you are perpetuating racism. Name the whole team please- each of the sherpas!!!

Le Mec
Le Mec
11 days ago
Reply to  Tsering

On every expedition, or just this one?

fred west
fred west
9 days ago
Reply to  Le Mec

On every expedition

Bluegerbil
Bluegerbil
11 days ago
Reply to  Tsering

Especially as it appears only the Sherpas reached the top and full circle are claiming that counts because they are a team. Happy to be proved wrong. You are correct Sherpas never get the praise they deserve.

JClimb
JClimb
13 days ago

Excellent accomplishment! Hope many will be inspired by their tenaciousness and perseverance. Congratulations to the team! And, thankful for the expertise and dedication of the amazing sherpas. Knowing their names would be great information—whether it’s regularly reported or not.

Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
13 days ago
Reply to  JClimb

Sometimes we get the names of the Sherpas and successful climbers immediately, in which case we publish them. Sometimes those details comes later. In this case, the summiters’ names were unavailable at the time we posted.

JClimb
JClimb
13 days ago

Thanks for explaining that. Appreciate the timely reporting.

Jmaf
Jmaf
13 days ago

They climbed with sherpas helping them every step of the way. To call this an all black team and ignore the efforts of the sherpas, without whom they wouldn’t have sniffed the top, is tone deaf and wrong.

Le Mec
13 days ago
Reply to  Jmaf

All teams climb with Sherpas today on Everest no matter what race, nationality or gender and are credited exactly the same way. Why do you specifically choose this expedition to voice your discontent?

Last edited 13 days ago by Le Mec
Jmaf
Jmaf
13 days ago
Reply to  Le Mec

You are joking right? You don’t see the issue or the irony here? To claim that their summit team consisted of all black members, with no mention at all of the Nepalese who helped them climb, and who themselves have been marginalized in mountaineering for decades, is ok? Without their sherpa teammates this group doesn’t sniff the summit and claiming they were an all black team is, IMHO, shameful and demeaning to their Nepalese teammates.

Le Mec
12 days ago
Reply to  Jmaf

We read all the time “all Japanese women’s team”, all American team, etc, etc, with no mention of the Sherpa’s who do most or all of the work. So, no, I’m not joking at all.

damiengildea
13 days ago
Reply to  Le Mec

That is simply not true.

Some climbers mention their personal Sherpas by name, some do not.
Some mention their Sherpa team as a whole, some do not.

Years ago many or all of the Sherpas went unrecognised, or at least unnamed, in expeditions reports, unless they summited with the foreigner. Thankfully that has mostly changed in recent times.

Le Mec
Le Mec
12 days ago
Reply to  damiengildea

Why then didn’t you simply title it “First All-Black/Sherpa Expedition Summits Everest?” Readers never complain when we see headlines like “Madison Mountaineering Expedition climbs Everest” or “First Blind Chinese Climber summits Everest,” not just on your site but climbing media in general. I just find it sadly unsurprising that decades of racism towards Sherpas has now crossed over to Black climbers.

Last edited 12 days ago by Le Mec
damiengildea
12 days ago
Reply to  Le Mec

It’s NOT my site and I did NOT write the article.

I agree that by calling themselves an ‘All Black Team’ they are excluding the Sherpas who make their climb possible, rendering them invisible and lesser-than, and that in doing so they are perpetuating the egotistical delusion and prejudice that discriminated against Sherpas for decades.

Le Mec
Le Mec
11 days ago
Reply to  damiengildea

Oh. I thought you were the Editor. My bad

David
David
12 days ago
Reply to  Le Mec

Because this is the only team I’ve seen to claim to only be made up of a single ethnicity (which in itself seems the opposite of progressive)

Janet S
Janet S
13 days ago

I was at the Hotel Namche when the team was there acclimatizing. So happy they made it to the Summit

Bluegerbil
Bluegerbil
11 days ago
Reply to  Janet S

Yes me too. Can’t wait to see the pictures of them at the top/

Tara
Tara
11 days ago

I just don’t get it anymore. Why is SKIN COLOUR important in climbing Everest? What comes next? First all very white or olive or whatever tan team climbed Everest?

Le Mec
Le Mec
11 days ago
Reply to  Tara

I know, right? Like “All Women’s Expedition,” as if gender should qualify as unique or extraordinary.

Tara
Tara
11 days ago
Reply to  Le Mec

Physiologically skin color doesn’t matter. Gender does! Women compete in their category in all sports, while there is no black or white or whatever color category, right?

Tredainter
Tredainter
11 days ago

I look forward to hearing from the Full Circle climbers directly to hear them give credit to their fabulous Sherpa team and others who supported them along this journey. They did not write this article so this is not their voice. I also don’t think there would be the same pushback if this was the first group of “under age 15 climbers” or “largest group of Americans” to summit on the same day. Would there be a quick outcry that these groups are disrespectful to their Sherpa teams because of an affinity they had with each other long before they… Read more »

Jmaf
Jmaf
10 days ago
Reply to  Tredainter

No one would have a problem with “under age” or “largest group” so long as they didn’t try to claim that they climbed as a homogenous group, segregated by race, and ignoring the race of the folks who got them to the top. It’s no more okay for this group to form a team and claim they climbed as an “all black team”, which they didn’t, than it would be for white, asian, or anyone else. Race is an issue when we make it an issue and racism is racism regardless of which race is benefiting.

Tredainter
Tredainter
11 days ago

I just read a beautiful update on the Full Circle Everest team’s Facebook page. Great to hear from their own voice. Full credit was given to the fabulous Sherpa team including the name of each member. There were several joyous photos with their extensive team and thanks of gratitude to all who helped support their efforts.

Deb Boone
Deb Boone
9 days ago

Congratulations to the team!!!