In four months, Rosemary Saal will embark on Expedition Denali with a team of leaders in the African-American outdoor community. But their mission goes far beyond climbing the highest peak in North America. With a true zeal for encouraging diversity in the outdoors, this group of trailblazers brought together by National Outdoor Leadership School hope to inspire minority youth to take part in nature and the activities it has to offer.
Sierra magazine spoke with Saal, one of the youngest team members, about her fear of mountain lions, the thrill of climbing and why she carries around a headlamp in her purse.
What made you want to start hiking and climbing in the first place?
I just love the way climbing feels. Pulling yourself higher and higher until you reach the top. It is like you are always reaching for the next step.
I feel like a champion after climbing the flight of stairs to my third-floor apartment. What does it feel like when you reach the top of the huge mountains that you’ve climbed?
I just feel really fortunate and grateful to be able to do it. I remember when I hiked the North Cascades. It was amazing because I had been looking at those mountains from my hometown in Seattle all of my life. Now I was climbing them!
I have gotten so attached to my headlamp I started to just carry it around in my purse. You never know when you might need it. But a less technical item would be my journal. It is super important to have when you’re out there.
What convinced you to climb Denali now, with this group of people?
It just seemed like such an amazing opportunity. I didn’t even think about it. I was just like, “Heck yeah, I want to be a part of that.” It is a sponsored trip to climb the highest peak in North America while encouraging youth to get involved in the outdoors. You can’t pass up an opportunity like that.