Go Tell It on the Mountain

Black kids have had few heroes in the great outdoors. Until now.

Feb 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

IF 31-YEAR-OLD Elliott Boston climbs the Seven Summits, he won't be the first. (That was Dick Bass, back in 1985.) Nor will he be the youngest. (See Japanese climber Ken Noguchi, age 25.) Or the speediest. (Seven months from first ascent to last: New Zealanders Rob Hall and Gary Ball.) Or the slowest. (American Eric Simonson took 25 years.) But if he can tick off McKinley, Cartensz, Vinson, Kilimanjaro, and Everest in the next 17 months—he already topped out on Russia's Mount Elbrus last August and he hopes to summit Aconcagua in late February—he will be the first African-American to reach the milestone. By day a credit analyst from Orange County, California, Boston has been climbing for only eight years, so this isn't about challenging Ed Viesturs to a race up the Hillary Step. (On 18,510-foot Elbrus, he relied on guides.) "When you look at the history of African-Americans in the outdoors, you find Matthew Henson," he says, referring to the man who conquered the North Pole with Robert Peary in 1909. "But otherwise this area is untouched. This is all about showing minority kids that there's someone like them out there climbing." Look for Boston at Everest base camp in May 2002. And soon after, his mug on a billboard near you.

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