Expedition Denali: Inspiring diversity in the outdoors

The Expedition Denali team will attempt to summit Denali in 2013.

National Outdoor Leadership School

How many steps does it take to inspire youth to get outdoors? Exactly 10,000.

At least, that’s what the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is hoping to achieve with their recently launched “10,000 Steps to Denali” campaign, geared towards motivating youth of color to get involved in outdoor activities.

10,000 steps equates to roughly five miles—the distance from Denali’s High Camp to its peak. NOLS has rallied a team of 11 seasoned mountaineers to summit Denali, which will mark the first time an all-black team has ever attempted to reach the mountain’s pinnacle.

Denali (also known as Mount McKinley), located in the Alaska Range, is the highest peak in North America and looms 20,320 feet above sea level. The first crew to ever summit its slopes was Hudson Stuck’s expedition team in 1913.

Role models in the African American outdoor and wilderness community, the NOLS Expedition Denali team will demonstrate and promote “valuable leadership skills, including expedition behavior, communication, and tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, to work together toward achieving a common goal.”

Video: Distill Productions, LLC, Vimeo

Team Denali members include: “diversity champions, change leaders in the youth and outdoors movement, educational reformers, writers, photographers, business leaders, and mountaineers who have made historical ascents.”

During the team’s ascent, organizations and groups nationwide will follow in their 10,000 footsteps and encourage young people and families to hike their own wilderness spaces in commemoration of this historic event.

Photo: Expedition Denali team member Tyrhee Moore, National Outdoor Leadership School

The Expedition Denali team hopes to support this endeavor by fundraising, blogging, writing and spreading the word through their own networks. After their descent from the summit, the team will tour schools, nonprofit institutions, outdoor outreach organizations and church groups nationwide on speaking engagements. 

NOLS advocates that leadership skills nurtured in the wilderness setting are transferrable any aspect of youth’s lives. By taking students on extended wilderness expeditions, NOLS inspires their pupils to form connections with nature, and empowers them to give back to their own communities and to wild places.

Join us in supporting NOLS and Team Denali’s “10,000 Steps to Denali” campaign to inspire youth to protect wild places for future generations.