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The North Face's New Collection Reminds Us That the Outdoors Are for Everyone
The graphics celebrate Black climbers Sophia Danenberg and Phil Henderson, who surmounted Everest in 2006 and plan to this year, respectively.
The outdoors are for everyone. It's a fact, but yet those people out on trails, climbing rocks and camping under the stars are still predominantly white. With a new collection of T-shirts spotlighting Black mountain climbers both past and present, Sophia Danenberg and Phil Henderson, respectively, The North Face wants to help change that. While there is no plan — at least publicly — to support either spotlighted climber (or the organizations they own and operate) financially, the spotlight alone is enough to inspire future generations of BIPOC explorers, Danenburg and Henderson hope.
Of the more than 10,000 people that have surmounted Mount Everest, only six were Black, Henderson points out in a short video celebrating Black History Month, and The North Face collection, "New heights with Black joy." His own journey to climbing was roundabout, too, he says, but he'll be leading the first-ever all-Black expedition team (the Full Circle Everest Team) to Everest's peak later this year.
"I can honestly say that I don't think or knew the words Mount Everest before I was 30 years old. Rock climbing, I didn't really know what that was even though I was living right next to it. It wasn't in my community. I wanted to learn more about these outdoor things," he says in the video. A friend pointed him toward two resources, Outward Bound and NOLS. The NOLS Catalog, a wilderness education outreach organization, "opened my eyes to these other activities that you can do in life," he says.
For Danenberg, there were 15 intense, recorded climbs before she conquered Everest in 2006, becoming both the first Black American and Black woman to do so. She proved it was possible and now the Full Circle Everest Team is after a first of their own, laying the groundwork for generations of Black outdoor explorers to come. You can support Full Circle Everest Team expedition by donating to their ongoing fundraiser, which has a goal of $200,000 dollars but remains $31,000 short at the time of publish.