On June 26, a team of nine mountaineers made the wise decision and set an important example for future adventurers the world over: the summit is secondary to safety.

At 19,600 feet with the summit in sight, an incoming lightning storm caused the mountaineers of Expedition Denali to turn back. With the safe return of every member of the team, the expedition has successfully completed their mission. The peak was a goal, but it was never the priority for these role models, and their efforts to inspire youth of color to get outside, get active and chase Denali-sized dreams have already had a profound impact.

The expedition designed, developed and led by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) will inspire a generation of youth to reach their own great heights in the outdoors.

“From the heights the team reached, they were able to look over a country where all people, regardless of background or color, have gained an increased appreciation for the value and power of experiences in the outdoors,” said NOLS Executive Director John Gans. “This is a great day for the team members, a wonderful day for wilderness, a proud day for NOLS and a turning point for all of us who are involved in the outdoors.”

Outdoor participation rates among African Americans, and especially kids in that demographic, remain the lowest in the nation. The health and well being of America’s increasingly diverse population—and especially our African American population—depend on their remaining active and engaging in nature. Expedition Denali intends to inspire that trend by setting an example for youth of color.

“We’re all in good sprits. We’re tired, but we’re proud of how far we made it,” said team member Erica Wynn in a report from high camp. “We’re back down safely, and that’s what’s most important.”

Wynn and her teammates returned to base camp and flew to NOLS Alaska in Palmer Sunday. Their accomplishment is one to be celebrated and inspired by, and the team will immediately launch a nationwide tour to speak directly to youth about their adventures. The first event will be held at Angel Island State Park on July 12 for a group of San Francisco fourth- and fifth-grade students. Team members Rosemary Saal and Scott Briscoe will talk about their experiences on Denali and hike with the young, aspiring outdoorspeople.

Inspiration will also reach a broad audience through film. The entire expedition was filmed by Distill Productions, which will produce a full-length documentary upon their safe return. Other partners include REI, The North Face and Denali National Park and Preserve.


About NOLS

Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS is the leader in wilderness education, providing awe-inspiring, transformative experiences to 17,000 students each year. These students, ages 14 to over 80, learn in the wildest and most remote classrooms worldwide—from the Amazon rain forest, to rugged peaks in the Himalaya, to Alaskan glaciers and Arctic tundra. Graduates are active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. NOLS also offers customized courses through NOLS Professional Training, and the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute is the leading teacher of wilderness medicine worldwide. For more information, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu


About Distill

Distill is the sister company to MercuryCSC in Bozeman, Mont. The film production company focuses on documentary projects exposing and celebrating science, conservation and natural history. Distill Productions relies on documentary-style filmmaking, masterful cinematography, and intelligent distribution to create videos that mobilize messages.