Expedition Denali, exploring why diversity matters


For the first time a team of African-American climbers is assembling to make a bid for the summit of the tallest peak in North America, Denali. Led by the National Outdoor Leadership School in 2013, this expedition aims to encourage minority youth to enjoy outdoor recreation as part of an active lifestyle as well as create a cadre of role models for careers in environmental protection.

Also known as Mount McKinley, at 20,320 feet Denali is the highest physical point anyone can reach in the United States. And as a metaphor, this mountain can also represent exactly what a person in this country can achieve, as a literal height of ambition. Unfortunately far too few people of color in our nation are likely to attain it. But this group of adventurers aims to inspire a new generation to ascend beyond their life circumstances, by ascending Denali themselves.

“For many of our NOLS grads the experience has been so meaningful to them that they went on to do great things,” said Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, expedition member and diversity and inclusion manager at NOLS. “There are studies that show that being outside really changes your view on education and achievement.”

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