An All-Black Team Is Set to Climb Mount Everest for the First Time Ever

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At 11:30 am on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Since then thousands of people have reached Everest's peak, but only 8 Black men have accomplished the feat.

That number will double next year, as an all-Black team has set its sights on summiting Everest, for the first time ever.

Led by Phil Henderson, an experienced mountaineer, the nine-strong team's attempt has already garnered interest from authors and filmmakers, but Henderson said that pressure is nothing new. "We are used to that weight. It’s like we always have something to prove."

Like it or not, there's more riding on this attempt than any previous expedition. Henderson himself has said that the group hopes their efforts will help the outdoor industry reach previously overlooked communities.

“It’s kind of emotional for me as well,” Henderson said to NBC News . “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 added.

Also on next year's expedition will be Eddie Taylor, who by day is a chemistry teacher and track coach and by night is an accomplished climber and mountaineer. He began exploring the outdoors as a young boy, going camping and skiing with his family, but he acknowledges his experience is pretty unique.

“Those are not traditionally things that families of colour do,” Taylor said.

Taylor began climbing when a friend invited him along one day, and he’s been doing it ever since. Having found a passion for the sport he's spent years shepherding friends and kids into the outdoors. Those invitations are “really important,” Taylor said, “but there are only so many people of colour who can invite other people of colour to get outside.”

Taylor hopes next year's attempt 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."

You can follow the group's attempt at summiting Everest at the Full Circle Everest Expedition website and Instagram page.

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