As I mentioned in my earlier piece on Everest, now that the spring Himalaya season has wrapped up, its time to turn our attention to Denali, where there have already been a number of successful summits this year. But this story is about an important expedition that is actually scheduled to take place next year. One that has goals that reach far beyond the mountaineering world and could impact a number of young people.
In 2013 the National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS) is organizing a team to travel to Alaska to attempt to climb the highest peak in North America. Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley) stands 6196 meters (20,327 ft) in height and is a notoriously difficult to climb due to both its technical challenges and famously bad weather. Even at the height of summer, high winds and heavy snows can cause problems on the mountain and it is often used as a tune-up for Everest, even though it is 3000 meters lower in height.
Of course, there are dozens of expeditions that attempt the mountain each year, but what sets this one apart is that NOLS is hoping to create a team consisting of all African American climbers to give it a go. The hope is that through their efforts, these climbers will inspire young people in minority groups, especially African American youth, to get outside and become more active stewards of wilderness environments.
Dubbed Expedition Denali, the project is still in the early stages of planning and the team behind it is still looking for sponsors. Still, it is moving ahead and plans for making the climb in 2013 are well underway. I have little doubt that this will be a highly successful venture for all of those involved. To find out more about the project and how you can take part, check out the expedition’s official website here.
The number of young people in the U.S. who are actively taking part in outdoor activities is falling dramatically and that drop off is even more pronounced amongst minorities. I am a big supporter of doing anything we can to get young people outside and inspired to pursue their own adventures – great or small. Projects like this one remind us how important that is and I look forward to following this project in the weeks and months to come.
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