Full Circle, the First All-Black Climbing Team to Summit Mount Everest, Discusses Making History with Expedition

The Full Circle Everest team on a training trip to Nepal in 2021, ahead of their expedition to Mount Everest in 2022.

With headlamps on, stars above and ice below, they made their way up above the clouds to their goal: a mountain peak covered in flags and mementos. Then they made history. But the journey was only halfway over.

In May, the Full Circle Everest team become the first all-Black expedition to climb to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world above sea level.

The team made it safely down the mountain and back home, but the impact of that historic achievement is still taking shape.

“I don’t think it has really set in that we actually accomplished this,” says team leader Philip Henderson. “It was a three-year process of us starting this project and then completing it. I’m just proud of the team and the time and commitment and sacrifices by everybody on the team.”

Seven Full Circle Everest team members — Manoah Ainuu, Eddie Taylor, Rosemary Saal, Demond Mullins, Thomas Moore, James “KG” Kagami, and Evan Green — successfully reached Mount Everest’s summit. Along with Henderson, other members of the team include Frederick Campbell and Abby Dione.

Four members of the team — Henderson, Saal, Taylor and Ainuu — sat down with USA TODAY Sports to talk about their expedition, what happened on the mountain and what’s next.

Why Everest?

“Everest is an iconic mountain,” says Henderson. “Every year, people are paying attention to what’s happening on Everest. And when you look at it in terms of representation in high-altitude mountaineering, there had been less than a dozen Black people who had attempted to climb Mount Everest. It was an obvious next step for everybody.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Felecia Wellington Radel