Black mountain climbers create a game changer!
Black mountain climbers create a game changer! Everglades’s tour Saturday will expose a new world. As of Saturday, June 8, nothing in America will ever be the same. The first-ever team of Black mountain climbers, ages 19-57, will be starting up the flank of Mount Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain on the continent of North America. Black Americans will walk a little taller. Among the climbers is my 57-year-old friend Stephen Shobe. Shobe has already climbed four of the highest mountains on the seven continents of the world, and his mission is to reach all Seven Summits. Teenagers will look at their peers with new respect. NO ONE will be able to say, “Black people don’t do that.” Team Denali from left are Scott Briscoe, Rosemary Saal, Tyrhee Moore, Adina Scott, Ryan Mitchell, Erica Wynn; Billy Long, Stephen Shobe and Stephen DeBerry. For more information contact Audrey Peterman@ Audrey@legacyontheland.com or (404) 432-2839. (Read full story on www.thewestsidegazette.com).
By Audrey Peterman
Everglades’ tour Saturday will expose a new world. As of Saturday June 8, nothing in America will ever be the same. Black Americans will walk a little taller. Teenagers will look at their peers with new respect. NO ONE will be able to say, “Black people don’t do that.”
The reason for this momentous, change?
The first-ever team of Black mountain climbers, ages 19 -57, will be starting up the flank of Mount Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain on the continent of North America.
While the Black explorer Matthew Henson, “valet” to explorer Robert Peary was the first man to “sit on top of the world,” (April 6, 1909, Camp Jesup, 89°47′, arriving 45 minutes ahead of Peary,) and the unsung veteran Charles M. Crenchaw reached the summit of Mount Denali in 1964, there has never before been a team comprised of African Americans climbing the mountain for the specific purpose of being the first team of Blacks to make it to the top.
Among the climbers is my 57-year-old friend Stephen Shobe, the person on the team closest to my age. Steve and I have never met, though as colleagues in the outdoor environmental world we’ve been in contact for years. I had the opportunity to interview him on Saturday, June 1, and I told him it was the most exciting day of my life, barring family events. (You can listen to the interview on my website at www.legacyontheland.com.)
Stephen has already climbed four of highest mountains on the seven continents of the world, and his mission is to reach all Seven Summits. He’s more than halfway to his goal having climbed the highest mountain on the continent of Africa, (Mt. Kilimanjaro); Europe, (Elbrus); South America, (Aconcagua) and Carstensz Pyramid “down under.” On June 8, he will once again begin his ascent to the sun, this time on Mt. Denali, the highest mountain on the continent of North America.
As part of Expedition Denali, he and a team of eight will embark up the mountain, an entity so huge that it makes its own weather system. Clad in a sheath of ice accumulated over millions of years, the mountain will test the climbers to the limits of their physical, mental and emotional endurance. Yet each climber embraces the opportunity in a bid to achieve their personal goals, and to inspire young people – African Americans in particular – to embrace the outdoors and make their own dreams come true. (African Americans benefit from the National Parks less than any other group, and are seldom seen among hotel guests and others enjoying the spectacular scenery.)
I asked Stephen how he felt a week away from the beginning of the expedition, and how it felt to be climbing with colleagues as young as 19.
“I’m honored to be in the company of every one of them,” he responded. “To me they embody the true spirit of adventure of our youth and all the limitless possibilities that will come as they move to mentor and plant the seeds of adventure in others their age. What better person to mentor a 19-year-old than a 19-year-old, or a 22-year-old than a 22-year old? The group actually represents all decades from 19 or early 20s to the 50s now. So we’ll be able to talk peer to peer, instead of ‘This is me – I’ve done this and I’m this old,’ you’re talking to someone right there in your age group. It allows me to experience firsthand what the younger generation is going to be going through in this experience as well.”
The expedition is the brainchild of the National Outdoor Leadership School based in Lander, Wyoming. Noting the absence of role models for African Americans, they’ve been working to develop and fund it for more than two years. Funds have been raised to create a documentary of the climb.
To support Expedition Denali while the climbers are on the mountain, events are being held at multiple places around the country. In South Florida, environmentalist Audrey Peterman is partnering with Everglades National Park to draw attention to the expedition and introduce locals to the incredible beauty and history in the Everglades.
The Everglades tour will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center at the Homestead entrance of the park, 40001 State Road 9336 Homestead, with a welcome from the Superintendent and a video featuring the expedition. At 10:30 the tour will move to the Anhinga Trail and follow the one-mile boardwalk alongside gently flowing water, bordered by sawgrass dotted with an array of large wading birds waiting patiently for their meal to swim by. Participants are encouraged to take “10,000 Steps” in support of Team Denali, which equates to approximately a 30-minute walk and the number of steps required daily to support a healthy lifestyle.
Most intriguingly, a park ranger will describe the history of the Everglades as part of the Underground Railroad, which enslaved Africans braved in their efforts to get to freedom. Many settled in the Bahamas and in Cuba.
“The most exquisite thing for me,” says organizer Audrey Peterman who recently released her guidebook to the parks from Alaska to Florida, “is to show that African Americans have history in the parks from the 1700s, and are making history from the lowest point of the continent at Everglades sea level, to the highest point of the continent on top of Mount Denali.”
For more information contact Audrey Peterman, Audrey@legacyontheland.com or 404-432-2839.