First black African woman summits Mount Everest

Staff Writer | May 28, 2019
The first black woman to reach the peak of Mount Everest has arrived home in South Africa.

Business executive Saray Khumalo made history when she reached the summit on Thursday, 16 May. This was Khumalo’s fourth attempt to reach the top of Mount Everest.

It was not an easy trip for Khumalo having to see some of the climbers die on this journey. Irish professor Seamus Lawless, 39, part of the eight-member party that summited with Khumalo , slipped on the way down at an altitude of 8 300 metres. The search for his body has since been called off. 

On her previous attempt in May 2017, Khumalo had to be rescued from Everest by helicopter after she was injured.

This climbing season took 10 lives. The most dangerous part of the climb is the descent from the summit, partly because the goal of getting to the top has been achieved and exhaustion, both mental and physical, take their toll.

The majority of climbers who died, died on the way down: they either ran out of oxygen or succumbed to altitude sickness.

Khumalo and her climbing team leader, Noel Hanna, held a media briefing to share details of their journey on their arrival at O R Tambo Airport yesterday.

Khumalo said: ‘In a small way, I took every African who might have been told that they couldn’t consider their pursuit, with me to the top of the world. I therefore wish that this summit will inspire every child, black or white, to reach their own individual Everest.’


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