This June, a team of nine mountaineers will attempt to become the first all black American expedition to climb Alaska's 20,320-foot Denali (a.k.a. Mount McKinley). Dubbed Expedition Denali, it's not only aimed at summiting North America's highest peak, but also hopes to motivate people of all colors to get outside, get active in the outdoors and embrace our nation's wild places.
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)-led expedition has awesome potential—with a team comprised of highly experienced mountaineers (who've climbed the likes of Aconcagua and Elbrus) and young, ambitious outdoorspeople—but it will only be successful to the extent that people are aware of it.
Through a Kickstarter campaign launched yesterday, Expedition Denali is raising funds to create a powerful, far-reaching documentary on the team’s journey to the top of North America’s loftiest, most iconic summit. From putting a camera team on the mountain with the expedition to producing, promoting and distributing the resulting feature-length film, this project will increase awareness of the importance of exploring natural environments and make clear that it’s high time to invite all races, all ethnicities—all people—to inspirational outdoor playgrounds.
“This expedition is a game-changer," says Bruce Palmer, NOLS Director of Admissions and Marketing. "Not because of the summit, but because of the platform that it presents for this exceptionally talented group of individuals to inspire young people to be active and pursue their dreams.” After the climb, the team plans to visit classrooms around the country to spread their message, and the film, which is being produced by Distill Productions, will certainly help those efforts.
"The story of these positive outdoor role models must be told,” says Palmer, and he's right. In the end, Expedition Denali's success hinges not on whether they make the summit, but on whether it can can inspire a new generation of non-whites to love, and become stewards of, the outdoors. Check out the video here about the expedition, then click through to the Kickstarter page to see how you can help.