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Seeing Beyond Seven Summits

On May 22, 2023, Shayna Unger became the first Deaf woman in the world, and Scott Lehmann became the first Deaf American to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest. Just 26 hours later, on May 23, 2023, they became the first deaf individuals to complete a double ascent of 8000m peaks back-to-back, reaching the summit of Lhoste, the 4th highest mountain in the world.

Scott & Shayna Everest

After climbing three of the seven summits, Scott and Shayna were set to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain next, inspired by the fact that only one deaf person had achieved this before. They dedicated a whole year to training, preparation, and seeking sponsorships. During the two-month expedition in the Himalayas, they not only climbed, but also taught sign language and developed a communication system with their Sherpas, Mignmar Dorchi Sherpa and Mignmar Tenje Sherpa. On May 22, 2023, at 6:00 am, Shayna became the first deaf woman in the world and Scott the first deaf American to summit the world's highest peak, Mount Everest. Just 26 hours later, on May 23, 2023, at 8:00 am, they reached the summit of Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world.


Scott and Shayna's drive to climb the world's highest mountain stemmed from the fact that 466 million people worldwide have hearing loss, with 1 in 8 individuals in the United States being deaf or hard of hearing. Yet, before the 2023 season, only one known deaf person had successfully summited Everest, and there were no records of any deaf females or deaf Americans ever making it to the summit. In Spring 2023, they were determined to change these numbers and increase representation for the deaf and disabled in the outdoors, and they did.


In preparation for their Everest expedition, Scott and Shayna committed to increasing accessibility to information and education, and to bring the Mount Everest experience closer to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. They took the community along for the journey by hosting a weekly vodcast, "Climbing with Scott & Shayna in Sign Language," in which they discussed Everest-related topics, covering the expedition, logistics, team, training, and preparations—all in American Sign Language. Not only that, Scott and Shayna also once again brought back the Q&A sessions with deaf and hard-of-hearing kids across the country, giving them a chance to submit videos in American Sign Language (ASL) to ask questions about climbing Mount Everest. This time, Scott and Shayna answered the questions directly from the Everest base camp!