One year after Jim Whittaker and his team became the first Americans to summit Mount Everest another historic climb was achieved in Alaska. In 1964 along with 14 other climbers Charles Crenchaw became the first African-American to reach the top of Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. Achieving a height of 20,328 feet above sea level Crenchaw had climbed higher than any black man in American history. And though we celebrate Whittaker today for his great accomplishment 50 years ago Crenchaw remains all but forgotten.
Despite this powerful role model in the mountaineering community it would be another 43 years before an African-American climber stood on the summit of Everest. And when Sophia Danenberg ascended to the top of the world in 2006 that event too went mostly unreported. With no one to celebrate and tell the story of these firsts in African-American climbing how will future generations become inspired and aim to follow their shining examples?
In 2013 the first team of African-American climbers will attempt to reach the summit of Denali. Following the example of Crenchaw almost 50 years later these black men and women aspire not only to reach the highest peak in North America but to demonstrate for minority youth the adventure and opportunities available to them in mountaineering and outdoor recreation at large.
Expedition Denali is meant to raise awareness for the importance of all people to become involved in an active lifestyle that includes spending time in nature. And with the creation of a documentary film and a non-fiction book to tell the story the organizers of this historic event hope that it too will not fade into obscurity and go forgotten for another 50 years.
You can help. Support Expedition Denali on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676871108/expedition-denali-documentary-film
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