This past June, a group of young black adventurers known as the Expedition Denali Team, became the first all black expedition team to summit the Denali Mountain. Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, is the highest peak in North America. At 20,320 feet above sea level, the black expedition team attempted the 5-mile climb up to the top.
The Expedition Denali team is comprised of ten climbers: Scott Briscoe, Stephen DeBerry, James Kagambi, Billy Long, Ryan Mitchell, Tyrhee Moore, Robby ReChord, Rosemary Saal, Adina Scott, Stephen Shobe and Erica Wynn. They were accompanied by a host of support and media who documented their experience every step of the way.
The explorers came from all walks of life. One explorer, Erica Wynn, hails from Queens, NY. She was exposed to outdoor activities through a private boarding school and the Girltrek’s Trailblazer Fellowship program for black women. Another, Stephen DeBerry, is a national champion hurdler, an Oxford and UCLA grad and manages an investment firm in San Francisco. Climber Stephen Shobe is a member of the Pioneer Climbing Expedition, a group with the goal of becoming the first African American team to climb the Seven Summits: Aconcagua (Argentina), Elbrus (Russia), Everest (Nepal), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Denali (Alaska), and the Vinson Massif (Antarctica). Shobe has reached three of the summits on his list.
The team chose June 2013 because it is the 100th anniversary of the first climb attempt up Denali. After a year of training and days of climbing, the Denali team reached 19,600 feet up the mountain, but were forced to turn back because of a lightning storm. Despite their setback, they climbed back down and are using their experience to encourage other black and inner city kids to get involved in outdoor adventures through media tours all over the country.
(Photo: Courtesy of expeditiondenali.nols.edu.