Saray Khumalo becomes first black African Woman to summit Mt Everest.

Summits with a Purpose Information Release – During Descent

Saray Khumalo becomes first black African Woman to summit Mt Everest.

Saray Khumalo becomes first black African Woman to summit Mt Everest sasportspress

Mountaineers are accustomed to suffering. The climbs are big and conditions rugged. But there is a passion and an appreciation that is deeply evident in all who aspire to climb big mountains. There are 14 8000 meter mountains in the world – the most famous being the highest: Mount Everest, first climbed in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. These 8000 meter mountains extend into the Jetstream where airplanes traverse the globe, each mountain enters the death zone requiring supplemental oxygen, and involves the strenuous navigation of glaciated terrain. It is therefore a strong bunch that support and encourage each other to achieve these goals. Saray Kumalo’s Summits with a Purpose initiative has evolved since 2013 when the platform was founded by Saray Khumalo and supported by Sarieta Schultz from 2014 with the aim of taking Ubuntu to the top of the world through her Seven Summits challenge. In 2018 Saray decided to make the campaign scalable and go beyond simply the seven summits. Through this broadening of the scope Saray and a fellow mountaineer initiated a collaboration with a view to make hiking, climbing and adventure a generally accessible activity for ordinary South Africans.

The first South African to Summit Everest was Cathy O’Dowd in 1996, the first South African men to summit Everest were Sibusiso Vilane and Sean Wisedale both in 2003. Over the past 23 years 78 attempts have resulted in 36 South African’s standing on the highest point in the planet. Only four woman have succeeded: Cathy O’Dowd, Mandy Ramsden, Lee den Hond and Wilmien van der Merwe.

But Thursday 16 May 2019 was not just another summit - instead history was written – because around 8:45 am local time in Nepal Saray Khumalo became the first Black African to summit Mt Everest (the first Black woman to summit Everest was the American Sophia Danenberg in 2006).  With her birth in Zambia, Rwandan bloodline and now a South African, this sister of Africa has become a national icon. In 2012 Saray summitted Kilimanjaro and in the process raised funds for the Lunchbox Fund. The mountaineering passion took hold and she embarked on a journey to climb the highest peak on each continent, not for herself but the education of African children. She summitted Mt Elbrus in 2014 and Mt Aconcagua in 2015. She became a Nelson Mandela Libraries ambassador and raised nearly R1m for school libraries. After being on Everest during both the serac fall (2014) and the earthquake (2015), she reached the south summit in 2017. Through pure perseverance, grit; prayer and courage she decided to return to Mt Everest in 2019. During the 2019 expedition, she supports the Dr Thandi Ndlovu Foundation.

Saray arrived at Base Camp on 20 April after completed the remote trek up the Khumbu Valley, Nepal. She then left on 26 April for her acclimatisation rotation (to support the body adapting to the reduced air pressures) that took her sequentially to Camp 1, Camp 2 and just below Camp 3. After this she rested for a few days while some bad weather passed, and the rope fixing was completed. She then set off on her summit push on 12 May 2019 arriving at the summit on the morning of 16 May 2019.

Mountaineers and friends have followed along the journey through daily updates provided by Summit with a Purpose’s fellow mountaineer Jeannette McGill (a respected mountain & business leader and the first South African woman to summit another of the 14x 8000 m mountains: Manaslu) conveying updates from Saray’s satellite messenger and her knowledge of the route allowing followers a unique and informative perspective of the journey. Saray’s wish was for readers to learn about the world of hiking and mountaineering along the way, allowing more people to be inspired and consider their own adventures. Saray’s hiking group and close friends remained awake most of the night using a chat group to share stories and nostalgic photos, watch her satellite tracker feed, and finally celebrate Saray’s success in real time.

Mountaineers all appreciate that the summit is actually only half way, with the majority of accidents or deaths occurring on the way town due to fatigue. The press have reported that Seamus Lawless (Ireland) is missing after unfortunately falling from the Balcony on Thursday and that Ravi Thakar (India) passed away Thursday night. Having taken five days to climb Mount Everest Saray is still progressively making her way back down the mountain safely and slowly. All press is currently being handled through Summits with a Purpose where requests can be made via direct Message on the Facebook Page.

END.

Further information will be released in the near future on request

FACT SHEET VERSION

  • 14 8000 meter mountains in the world
  • Highest Mount Everest: 8848m
  • First climbed in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa
  • The first South African to Summit Everest was Cathy O’Dowd in 1996
  • The first South African men to summit Everest were Sibusiso Vilane and Sean Wisedale both in 2003.
  • 23 years 78 attempts have resulted in 36 South African’s standing on the highest point in the planet.
  • Only four woman have succeeded: Cathy O’Dowd, Mandy Ramsden, Lee den Hond and Wilmien van der Merwe.
  • The first Black woman to summit Everest was the American Sophia Danenberg in 2006
  • 8:45 am local time in Nepal Saray Khumalo became the first Black African to summit Mt Everest
  • Kilimanjaro in 2012
  • Mt Elbrus in 2014
  • Mt Aconcagua in 2015
  • After being on Everest during both the serac fall (2014) and the earthquake (2015), she reached the south summit in 2017.
  • Saray arrived at Base Camp on 20 April
  • Left Base Camp on 26 April for her acclimatisation rotation (sequentially to Camp 1, Camp 2 and just below Camp 3)
  • Summit push on 12 May 2019 arriving at the summit on the morning of 16 May 2019.
  • Mountaineers and friends have followed along the journey through daily updates provided by Summit with a Purpose a platform created to make hiking, climbing and adventure a generally accessible activity for ordinary South Africans.
  • 2 of her teammates have succumbed to either altitude or fatigue on the descent

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