By Scott Gaffaney, and Co Author David Gaffaney
Everest... To scale this monstrous mountain is one of the most difficult tasks humans have ever attempted. A team must prepare not only physically, but mentally, as the extreme cold and thin air make the trek always one of the most dangerous and unpredictable. There is only a short window of less than 30 days of sometimes favorable weather on the mountain to complete the climb. Those familiar with the challenge of scaling the Earth’s highest peak know its requirements – the training required, the logistics planning, the time needed to acclimate to high altitude, even with supplemental oxygen.
Among the stories that stand out in 2022 that deserve recognition and praise, is the historic all-Black Full Circle Everest team’s summit. Its seven members made it to the top of Mount Everest on May 12th, nearly doubling the number of Black climbers to have ever summited Everest.
The Full Circle Everest team’s success caught national and international attention, not only for its success but for its symbolism. The team’s legacy is now a clear example for other Black climbers, knowing that the summit of Mt. Everest can be achieved. Their 2022 summit has inspired others to go out and find their own summit.
The Full Circle Everest team knows that the history they made is a symbol of the struggle for equality for all that is still not complete today. While barriers continue to exist for Black communities accessing the outdoors, the Full Circle Everest team’s goal is now to "Inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers of color to continue chasing their personal summits." For courses and information check out “What We Do” on their website fullcircle-expeditions.com.
The Full Circle Everest team’s historic Everest accomplishment and their message are why mountainclimb.com has awarded each member with one of our Everest medallions.
Let's meet the faces behind the expedition...
James Kagambi (KG), began his guiding career in Kenya as a NOLS field instructor. Not only is KG a seasoned mountain guide he is also a grade school teacher, sports coach, and teacher of traditional Africa music.
The toughest part about Everest for him was feeling helpless because someone else was in charge. On other mountains where he leads, he is ready and knows what to do in case of a challenge. He also has the right gear for rescue.
What inspired KG to keep summiting mountains was snow. The first time he walked on snow on Mount Kenya he was hooked. Loves it and still does to this day. "Snow brings life, fun and excitement to me.” Besides Mount Everest his favorite mountain is Mount Kenya for its simplicity and vast sceneries. However he really enjoyed climbing Denali the first time, Aconcagua and the Eiger.
Here is some inspirational words from KG, "There is no summit too high. Your goals can be achieved if you focus and work towards them".
Eddie Taylor is fellow Midwesterner residing now in Boulder Colorado. He's a high school chemistry teacher and head track and field coach. His passions for the outdoors include snowboarding, skiing, and climbing rock or ice When he isn't out climbing, his passion extends to helping kids find success both in the classroom and on the field.
The toughest part for him summiting Everest was being away from home and family for many days.
The calling and inspiration to start climbing, can start at a young age. With Eddie it starts with his mom. She took him to national parks, camping, and hiking when he was young. Besides Everest his favorite climb, is The Naked Edge, Colorado.
Here are some words of advice from Eddie, "Pursue opportunities to see the world and travel when you get the chance."
Adina Scott. She’s an adventurer and artist out of Seattle Washington with a Ph D. in electrical engineering. Currently, she is working for the U.S. Antarctic program providing electronics and computer support for scientists working along the Antarctic Peninsula.
The hardest part about the Everest climb for her was being involved in a very public endeavor. "It’s scary putting yourself out in the world and not knowing how you come across or how your messages will resonate.”
She got her start young. She was raised by outdoorsy parents in Washington state, rambling around the Cascades. Being outside has always been a part of her life. Besides Everest, her favorite climbs are anything away from crowds with good friends and snacks.
Her words of inspiration, "Full Circle Everest is a grassroots project. Find your vision, find your people, and make things happen that make life better.”
Evan Green, is a freelance photographer and filmmaker specializing in the outdoor industry. He is an all-arounder. He’s an avid climber, cyclist, snowboarder, and backpacker based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The toughest part about Everest for Evan, was climbing through the Khumbu icefall. It was physically demanding with threatening crevasses, and mentally stressful due to dangers of the environment.
How did Evan get started climbing? Climbing Colorado 14ers got him started on mountaineering. After his first summit he got obsessed with climbing the numerous peaks around the state. Besides Everest, his favorite climb is Wheeler Peak (13,167), high point in his home state of New Mexico.
Here's a little reminder from Evan about bench marks. "With a background as a geologist I always love to find the bench mark on peaks set by the U.S. Geological Survey. The bench mark medallion is the perfect reminder of reaching the highest point of them all, Mount Everest.”
Demond Mullins (Dom). Not only is he is an enthusiastic outdoorsman, he's a sociologist and Iraq veteran from Brooklyn, New York. Since his service Dom became a national spokesman for Iraq Veterans Against the War and worked as a United States Senate staffer on veterans’ health and education issues. He also conducts social research on the benefits of outdoor recreation, particularly mountaineering.
The toughest part for Dom in climbing Everest was not having adequate time to recover from movement. Recovery was limited due to schedules changing as a result of weather predictions.
Dom learned to climb as a result of his service in the military. A friend who had also served in the military, took him climbing for the first time. When he climbs he likes how it reminds him of the parts of his military experience that he enjoyed. His favorite climb aside from Everest has been Kilimanjaro. It’s so rare to see ice in Africa, and it amazed me to see Africa for the first time. "I wish I could get out climbing a lot more. My climbing is, sadly, episodic. During ice season I take more pains to find ice climbing."
Here's a little tip and some words of inspiration from Dom, "For beginning climbers I would say find ways to learn and improve your skills, especially for safety, but most of all have fun. If it’s not fun at all, you’re doing it wrong."
"Make everyone feel at home in the great outdoors. It’s where we all belong."
Thomas Moore, born and raised in the small town of Cartersville, Georgia, became a world traveler. Thomas developed a passion for travel as a young man, touring through scores of countries, he simply relishes experiencing new cultures.
The toughest part of summiting Everest was his first rotation to Camp 3. The move from Camp 2 to 3 pushed him.
Thomas started climbing in 2017 by chance. He didn’t know much about the discipline of mountaineering before then. After summiting Kilimanjaro, he made up his mind to pursue the Seven Summits. He only has 2 left having climbed 5 of 7 so far.
Word of thanks from Thomas, "I am so thankful to be a part of the Full Circle Everest Team and thankful for the positive connection between being outside in nature and mental health."
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