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first black african woman to summit everest

May 22, 2019
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Business executive Saray Khumalo just became the first Black African woman to summit the world’s tallest peak on her fourth attempt, reports News24. Khumalo and a team of fellow climbers reached the summit on Thursday, May 16th. The South African started her climbing journey back in 2012 when she climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for the Lunch Box fund. The mountaineering bug took hold, resulting in her embarking on a journey to climb the highest peaks on every continent in order to raise funds to educate African children.

Khumalo’s first Everest attempt was in 2014 but an avalanche halted the attempt. She tried again in 2015 but there was an earthquake that stopped her and the team from submitting. Her attempt in 2017 wasn’t hindered by natural disaster but she only made it to South summit before she had to be rescued by helicopter after sustaining an injury in unforgiving weather. Thankfully, this was Khumalo’s year (because climbing Everest ain’t cheap) but unfortunately, the achievement was bittersweet because of Khumalo’s fellow climbers, Indian national Ravi Thakar, was found dead in his tent on Friday after returning from the summit, according to Eye Witness News. Irish Professor Seamus Lawless is also missing from the expedition — the search for him was called off on Friday.

Khumalo is a Nelson Mandela Libraries ambassador and has raised over R1 million (just under $70,000) towards building libraries for South African school children. It’s so beautiful watching Black transform passions into vehicles for change — it’s like witnessing alchemy. Khumalo’s perseverance is three attempts past admirable, doing the additional work of making Black African women more visible in spaces people wouldn’t immediately associate us with. The culture of “First Black Woman To…” can be irksome but the bright side is that the door is open and we out here with no plan to ever stop.