As a traveller and lover of the outdoors, be it hiking, camping, (attempting badly) to surf, running, wakeboarding etc, I love being outside. Along the way, I have noticed that the media’s depiction of the great outdoors is often.. somewhat limited. There is a trend right now (with Instagram being a serial offender) of slim, caucasian women with long flowing hair, often wearing little, being shown as a complete representation of the entire outdoors scene.
An American Ascent is attempting to shake things up and change the face of the outdoors. In a world first,  An American Ascent follows an African American group of nine mountaineers, as they come together to ascend Mount McKinley, aka Denali.

‘Think about the story that mountaineering has been,’ says Erica Wynn, one of the three female mountaineers of the group, ‘Its been mainly white male, and if a little black girl were to look into mountaineering and hear that single story, she would probably say, I don’t have much of a place there.’


‘Many people of color have the mentality that we do not “belong” in the outdoors’ agrees Rosemary Saal. ‘When the sport was first being developed and explored, the traditional participant was a white male. For some reason, this image has stuck in the minds of many and in actuality has not changed significantly.’

The nine climbers embarked on the journey representing Expedition Denali, a group to inspire diverse inner city kids to explore the outdoors.8555819380_f5d86e76f6_z

While the group climbed the mountain back in 2013, the documentary following their journey is currently being screened and toured across America, winning multiple awards throughout the film festival circuit. With a recent screening at the White House playing to a completely sold out audience, the film and the climbers have been extremely well received, as Bani Amor explains.

‘Growing up working class and Latina in the city meant my first glimpse of mountains were caught from the glow of the TV or even from the glossy pages of travel mags, but rarely would those graphics reflect anyone who looked remotely like me’.

10710528256_99a89d1830_bWhile its incredibly refreshing to see a different kind of face on the mountain, the documentary is also interesting purely for the grit, determination and achievements of the climbers. The weather conditions are treacherous, all does not goes to plan and its unsure whether or not the climbers will remain uninjured. Eventually, the climbers were forced to descend before summiting, an unexpected turn in the story.

‘As we went forward to the end of Denali pass, the weather started acting up.’ Wynn told The Joy Project, ‘We decided to push through. At 19,600 ft we could see the summit, and all of a sudden, clouds roll in and we have thunder and lightening threats; the instructors made the call to turn around. But, we’re proud of how far we made it, we’re safe and thats what matters.’

Check out An American Ascent as it makes its way through the internet and the States, hopefully changing attitudes and inspiring the unlikely to get a little outdoors of their own.

An American Ascent – Film Trailer from Distill Productions on Vimeo.