Mount Everest will soon see an all-Black expedition for the first time in history.
Phil Henderson, a Cortez mountaineer, is preparing to lead the team in a bid to boost diversity in the outdoor industry, adding to it and widening its scope across the world.
An American expedition first managed to reach the peak of Everest in 1963. The nine-strong all-Black team plan to touch the top of the world next year.
Speaking to NBC News about ‘priming that engine’ for better diversity, Henderson said, ‘We just need more propulsion. We need more power… this is our boost.’
Henderson, who’s been on a number of expeditions in Nepal and South America, as well as teaching at the National Outdoor Leadership School and leading an all-Black team to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, said the prospect of climbing Everest is ‘kind of emotional for me as well’.
‘I’m realising and living these things I’ve always said were so important and how it’s so vital for all of us to be connected to the natural environment… from gardening to bird watching to climbing Everest, the sky is really the limit when it comes to people just getting outside and really understanding the benefits of spending time in nature,’ he said.
While eight Black people have reached the top of Everest, Eddie Taylor, a climber and mountaineer, said a Black American has never pulled off the feat. ‘Those are not traditionally things that families of colour do,’ he said with regards to outdoor activities.
However, Taylor was invited by friends when he was younger, but said ‘there are only so many people of colour who can invite other people of colour to get outside’.
The expedition has garnered interest from authors and filmmakers. If nothing else, Taylor hopes their adventure will ‘give visibility and normalise this experience for Black folks… we definitely hope this will have a lasting impact on our community. Maybe this expedition can help change that.’
Henderson said that pressure is nothing new. ‘We are used to that weight. It’s like we always have something to prove,’ he said.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]