Log In

Reset Password

Local climber to talk in Dolores about historic Mount Everest attempt

Phil Henderson, a professional mountain climber from Cortez, will give a talk at the Dolores Public Library about his climbing adventures and plan to lead the first all-Black expedition to the summit of Mount Everest next year. (Courtesy Full Circle Expedition)
Henderson will lead the first all-Black team to attempt the summit of the world’s highest peak

Professional mountaineer Phil Henderson, of Cortez, will share his climbing adventures and plans to lead the first all-Black team to Mount Everest.

“Summiting Expectations: Everest 2022 and Other Adventures with Phil Henderson” is scheduled for Dec. 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Dolores Public Library.

Henderson has worked for the outdoor industry for almost three decades, including 22 years as an educator for youths with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

He has traveled and climbed around the world and has taught mountaineering skills to guides, rangers and porters in Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania and Chile.

Next spring, Henderson will be lead the first all-Black team to attempt to reach summit of Everest as part of the Full Circle Expedition.

According to the Full Circle website, the expedition will showcase the strength of the climbing team and highlight barriers that exist for Black communities to access the outdoors.

“There is representation of Black people in mountaineering, climbing and the overall outdoor industry, but our stories are not being told,” Henderson stated on the expedition’s Facebook page.

Team members include Henderson; Abby Dione, of Fort Lauderdale; James “KG” Kagambi of Kenya; Manoah Ainuu, of Bozeman, Fred Campbell of Seattle; Demond “Dom” Mullins, of New York; Rosemary Saal, of Seattle; Eddie Taylor, of Boulder; Thomas Moore, of Denver; and Adina Scott, of Seattle.

The Full Circle expedition draws inspiration from the first American expedition to reach the summit of Everest in 1963, which was the same year Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The Full Circle Expedition will be the first all-Black team to attempt to summit Mount Everest. (Courtesy Full Circle)

It took 40 more years for the first Black climber to summit Everest. Still there has never been an all-Black team to summit the tallest mountain on Earth, which tops out at 29,032 feet.

According to the Full Circle, there have been more than 10,000 summits of Mount Everest as of 2020.

“To our knowledge, only eight Black climbers have stood on the top of Everest. This expedition will permanently change the future of mountaineering on a global scale,” the Facebook page states.

The Everest climbing mission will highlight the stories of each climber. The team is undergoing intense training and planning sessions for their Everest summit attempt in spring.

“Our mission is to tell the whole story and highlight the value in the process. Each member of this team has a story. Together, we speak to many histories, traditions and ancestries,” the Facebook page states.

Henderson has a long career in professional mountaineering and outdoor education. In 2012, he was a team leader of the North Face/National Geographic Everest Education Expedition. In 2013, he became one of the few African-Americans to summit Denali, and in 2018, he lead an all African-American ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Henderson is the recipient of the Outdoor Afro 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.

With a home base in Cortez, Henderson trains and recreates in and around the San Juan Mountains and Southwest.

“Phil’s mission is to encourage, inspire and mentor people on the power of nature and the importance of getting outside,” according to his website.

Fundraising is ongoing for the expedition and donations can be made to a GoFundMe page. For information about Full Circle, visit fullcircleeverest.com and the Full Circle Facebook page.