First All-Black Climbing Team to Reach the Summit of Mount Everest Celebrates 'Historic Moment'
The first group of all-Black summiteers to attempt to scale Mount Everest have made history!
Full Circle Everest, the team of Black climbers who set out to conquer Mount Everest, completed the treacherous adventure up the world's highest peak after more than 36 days on Thursday, they confirmed on social media.
"I am deeply honored to report that seven members of the Full Circle Everest team reached the summit on May 12," team leader Phil Henderson wrote in a statement. "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!"
The summiting team included Manoah Ainuu of Bozeman, Montana; Kenyan climber James Kagambi; 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.
They were joined by Sherpa climbers and led from base camp by Henderson, according to Jiban Ghimire, Managing Director at Shangri-La Nepal Treks, confirmed to the Himalayan Times.
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During an interview on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast back in February, Ainuu — a North Face athlete — said that the history-making endeavor was organized as an attempt to increase representation in the climbing arena.
"We had that shared experience of just standing out and being the only person that was Black, that had dark skin, doing their thing in the outdoors," Ainuu said. "It's really powerful to be with other people that have experienced that same thing doing what we love, because we're stronger together with those experiences. It's just really cool to be a part of."
According to the Full Circle Everest Team, out of the roughly 10,000 recorded successful summits that have taken place on Mount Everest since 1953, "to our knowledge, only 10 Black climbers have stood on the top of Everest." The team's completion of the climb nearly doubles that number.
"Even though I'm confident in climbing and all that, it just doesn't feel comfortable because an old white gentleman might say something or question my knowledge or experience, which happens quite often," Ainuu told PEOPLE earlier this year. "I've come to realize through those experiences that having all the newest, nicest gear... people don't even look at that, they just look straight at your skin color and then they start interrogating you."
"The Full Circle Everest Team represents a zenith in generational perseverance," the team wrote on their website.
"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 statement continued. "This historic attempt will inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers of color to continue chasing their personal summits."