An all-Black American climbing team is set to be the first group of its kind to summit the highest mountain in the world — Mount Everest. Only about 5,000 people have made it to the top of Everest, according to Insider. Of those lucky climbers, only eight Black people have made the journey.

Phil Henderson, a former instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School and a veteran Himalayan mountaineer, will lead a cohort of nine people on the Full Circle Expedition. If successful, the number of Black mountaineers who have made it to the top will double.

“I believe this project is important to the development of our team members in their growth in the mountaineering space,” Henderson said.

“It is bringing forward a greater conversation about Black and brown people in the outdoors and what that means: past, present, and future. Being that our entire team is made up of Black people, it is an important display of leadership, commitment, and teamwork to our community as well as the greater climbing world,” Henderson told the Outside Business Journal.

The team of seven men and two women who will embark on the journey are all well-prepared climbers with a passion for making a more inclusive outdoor space for Black people. Previously, Henderson has led an all-African American team to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Other team members include Eddie Taylor, a chemistry teacher and head track coach at Lafayette’s Centaurus High School and Misha Charles who has worked hard to get more people into the space through Outdoor Afro and the American Alpine Club. There are also two North Face-sponsored athletes Manoah Ainuu and Frederick Campbell. The remainder of the team includes Demond “Dom” Mullins, an Iraqi war combat veteran; James “KG” Kagambi a successful mountanier in Africa and Europe; entrepreneur Thomas Moore; and finally, Rosemary Saal, who led the first all-Black American team to the summit of Africa’s Kilimanjaro in 2018.

The Full Circle Expedition is expected to embark in 2022. At time of writing, the all-Black American climbing team
has raised $15,000 of their $50,000 goal on GoFundMe, due October 1, 2021.