FIRST ALL-DEAF TEAM
On June 13, 2021 Scott Lehmann, Shayna Unger and
Chad Unger became the first all-deaf team to reach the
summit of North America’s tallest mountain, Denali.
After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua, Scott and Shayna set their eyes on Denali in Alaska. This was further motivated by Scott’s 50 High Points goal; the only remaining state was Denali in Alaska. As the couple began preparing for the climb, they learned that there had only been two other deaf people who did summit Denali (Kenneth Litherland, 1985 and Heidi Zimmer, 1991). Scott and Shayna decided to create a team that was fully led by deaf climbers. This would enable them to climb without communication barriers. Shayna’s brother, Chad Unger, joined them to film and document the journey. Then the pandemic hit the world in 2020, so they couldn’t climb until the mountain was open again. As both worked from home during the pandemic, they began training even though they live in an area that doesn't have any mountains. On June 13, 2021, after a 13-day expedition, they became the first deaf-led team to summit Denali. The climb also made Scott the 342nd person in the world and the very first deaf individual to summit all of the 50 states’ high points.
Teaming Up with CorpsTHAT
Scott, Shayna, and Chad also teamed up with the nonprofit CorpsTHAT to fund raises. CorpsTHAT was founded by a group of deaf individuals who wanted to bring deaf and hard of hearing youth to the outdoors through conservation corps. The group raised over $3,500, which went to CorpsTHAT programs: a one-week backpacking trip and a camping gear and equipment locker that deaf and hard of hearing youth could rent.
Leading up to the Denali expedition, Shayna and Scott harnessed the power of social media by giving deaf and hard of hearing kids everywhere the opportunity to submit videos in ASL to ask about mountain climbing. It was thrilling to see deaf and hard of hearing kids’ eyes light up with understanding as the duo responded to the kids’ questions in ASL.