Full Circle Everest is the first all-Black team to summit Mt. Everest
Team Full Circle Everest, pictured here on Mt. Rainier in July 2021, summitted the world's highest peak on May 12, 2022; (photo/Full Circle Everest)

REI to Produce Feature-Length Documentary of Historic ‘Full Circle’ Everest Expedition

Want to watch the world’s first all-Black Everest expedition reach the roof of the world? Grab the popcorn and get comfy.

REI and a coterie of filmmakers announced today that they would produce a feature-length film covering the Full Circle Everest expedition.

Emmy-nominated director and producer Rolake Bamgbose (“The Weekly,” “The Day Sports Stood Still”) and acclaimed writer, director, and producer Justice A. Whitaker (“Restrictions Apply,” “Vice News”) will direct and produce the project via their Shango Light Films banner.

Executive producers for REI are also on board, including Paolo Mottola, Joe Z. Crosby, and Hanna Boyd.

The documentary-style action follows the nine Full Circle Everest summiteers as they reckon with racial issues and stereotypes in mountaineering and seek to conduct a global cultural exchange as part of their expedition.

full circle everest
(Photo/Courtesy of REI)

Along with eight Nepali Sherpas, the team reached the Mount Everest summit early on May 12. When they stood on the summit, they nearly doubled the number of Black mountaineers to do so in its entire history, per the Full Circle website.

Bamgbose and Whitaker started discussing the documentary in early 2020 with Full Circle climbing team leader Phil Henderson. Henderson and the team then decided to give the husband-and-wife duo exclusive access to the expedition.

In a statement, the filmmaking team said, “The film’s true emotional anchor is embedded in the individual journeys undertaken by each of the climbers, representing the diversity of the Black experience in the outdoor community.”

The nine Full Circle climbers to summit Everest included Henderson, Manoah Aniuu, Fred Campbell, Abby Dione, James “KG” Kagambi, Thomas Moore, Demond “Dom” Mullins, Rosemary Saal, and Eddie Taylor.

Full Circle Everest is the first all-Black team to summit Mt. Everest
Mt. Everest History: First All-Black Expedition Team Summits World's Highest Peak
In the early hours of May 12, 2022, an American/Kenyan team of mountaineers became the first all-Black expedition to summit Mt. Everest. Read more…

“REI Co-op Studios is committed to producing transformative stories that challenge historically narrow depictions of what it means to be outside and who the outdoors is for,” said Mottola, REI Co-op’s director of content and media.

“We’re honored to support filmmakers Bamgbose and Whitaker in their vision, help celebrate the Full Circle team’s achievement, and contribute to a more equitable outdoor community.”

Per REI, release dates, cost to watch, and distribution plans for the film were still undefined as of this writing.

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.