Climbers share thrill of reaching mountaintop


Staff photo by Brett A. Clark Tyrhee Moore talks about his experience with the outdoor survival group NOLS and hiking the Denali to area schoolchildren at ECSU, Saturday, October 12, 2013.


Cindy Beamon

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A climber on the first all-African-American team to summit North America’s tallest peak told local students Saturday he’s hoping more blacks can have the same experience.

Twenty-year-old Tyrhee Moore said mountain climbing was a lonely sport at first because he was usually the only African American in his group.

Now after reaching the summit of Mt. Denali in Alaska, Moore wants to spread the word to other African Americans about what they are missing.

“I felt like I was on top of the world. I really pushed myself, and it was really fun,” Moore said.

He spoke to high school students returning for a Saturday session of the IDEA Summer Science Institute at Elizabeth City State University.

The program by ECSU and the Institute of Environment at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is designed to attract more minorities to math and science fields where African-Americans are underrepresented. Students searched for fossils in the Chowan River and eyed specimens under a microscope at ECSU labs as part of the summer program.

On Saturday, Moore a city boy from Washington, D.C., said he was not the likely candidate for an outdoor adventure.

Too many African Americans miss out because they think “there’s not enough people doing it, and it’s not cool enough.”

Moore is hoping that perception will change with the Denali Expedition. The team of nine African Americans, sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School, was formed to inspire more youths to get outdoors.

Two Northeastern High School students said Saturday’s event had them thinking more about climbing a mountain.

Sophomore Khaliyah Whidbee said she was not aware of all the difficulties that were involved. The climbers spent a year and a half preparing for their ascent. Moore said hunger, cold, danger, and headaches from being at high elevations were all part of the 19-day climb.

“The hardest part would be being so far up and knowing you can’t turn around anytime you want to and go back,” said Whidbee.

Freshman Maria Blount said she’s still thinking about possibly giving mountain climbing a try.

“After seeing this, it did encourage me to keep trying to find a way to do it seeing that somebody else has done it,” said Blount.

Moore said he’s hoping his experience will encourage more youths to consider the possibility.

“I really developed a passion to get people out there and try,” said Moore, now a junior at West Virginia University.

Moore said his outdoor experiences have taught him things about life and people about whom he would not otherwise have learned.

When climbers are on the edge of the world, with sharp drop-offs on each side, they bond in a way not possible in everyday life, he said.

He also learned he could live without a cell phone and other everyday distractions.

“You cherish the moment. There’s so many things going on these days, it’s hard to do that,” he said.

Moore said he also learned to push past his problems.

“There’s so much about yourself you can overcome,” he said.

Moore said he was “physically pushed to the max” as he plodded up the mountain with 85 pounds in his backpack. At 14,000 feet, his head was throbbing from lack on oxygen and his movements were sluggish, but step by step he made it to the top, he recalled.

Knowing that, it makes it easier to face everyday problems, he said.

Not all of his climbing experiences were so profound.

His first thought at the end of his flight home: “I really need a burger,” he said.