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Shown: Stephen Shobe. Photo Credit to AARP.
As a child, Shobe explored an open storm drain system that was being constructed near his residence. By 16, Shobe fought fires for the USDA Forest Service and was certified as a scuba diver by multiple agencies. After learning how to fly helicopters, Shobe got into climbing in his mid-30s inspired by the thousands of climbers who frequented Joshua Tree National Park.
Stephen has climbed mountains in Southern California, Nevada, France, Germany, Slovakia, Corsica, and Italy, in addition to Mount Aconcagua, Mount Elbrus, Mount Kosciusko, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Denali.
Shobe was part of Expedition Denali, a group of African American climbers who became the first group of Black climbers to summit Denali. Their accomplishment is the subject of a documentary called An American Ascent available on Amazon. Shobe is one of the founders of Pioneer Climbing Expedition (PCE).
Pioneer Climbing Expedition
With Elliott Boston III and Philip Henderson, Shobe co-founded Pioneer Climbing Expedition (PCE) - a team of climbers determined to be the first group of African Americans to climb the highest summits on all seven continents:
Thus far, they have climbed Mount Aconcagua (February, 2002), Mount Elbrus (August, 2003), Mount Kosciusko (March, 2008), Denali, and Mount Kilimanjaro (February, 2008).
PCE holds clinics at local schools, trying to expose children to the great outdoors. A goal of PCE is to “awaken minorities to the many types of nontraditional outdoor sports.” PCE seeks to turn disenfranchised urban youth on to rock-climbing, mountaineering, hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and canoeing.
Despite his efforts to diversify outdoor recreation, Shobe is a realist about what matters on the mountain. "I've been trying to encourage diversity in the outdoors [for over a decade] . . . But at the end of the day, the mountain, the outdoors—it doesn't really care if you're black, white, blue, or green."
"I've been trying to encourage diversity in the outdoors [for over a decade] . . . But at the end of the day, the mountain, the outdoors—it doesn't really care if you're black, white, blue, or green."