Benafscha completes the first climb to the top of the brand new wall. This was her first time ever climbing.

A three-faced climbing wall has just become the newest addition to the Skateistan facility, and the first to climb to the top was Benafsha, a young Afghan woman who is also Skateistan’s newest staff member. She impressed the onlooking staff and students with her skills, considering it was her first time ever climbing! The 6×9 meter cilmbing wall was built over the past two weeks with the support of the German climbing utility manufacturer T-Wall. Skateistan hopes there will be the same enthusiasm among Kabul’s youth for rock climbing as there is for skateboarding.

“Rock climbing is one of the few sports in which students of different skill levels can join in together”, T-Wall-CEO Stefan Rybarczyk said. “The students learn about communication, trust, safety and control. They also experience fears, success or community as a team.”

The climbing wall is a welcome addition to the popular skateboarding and educational programming in the facility, and will be incorporated into Skateistan’s weekly schedule in coming weeks. Like skateboarding, rock climbing is a sport that encourages trust and tolerance. For example, children and youngsters of different social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds will learn to rely on each other when climbing and belaying.

“We want to give youngsters the opportunity to make their own experiences when solving (climbing) problems”, Rybarczyk said.

Training on the wall will be led by two Afghan rock climbers. The boys will be trained by Nadjib Sirat, who plans to be the first Afghan to climb Mount Everest in 2011. The girls will learn from a female Afghan freeclimber. There will also be assistance from international volunteers who have many years of climbing experience.

Construction of the wall was led by German carpenters Elias Hitthaler and Martin Walch. Afghan staff and volunteers at Skateistan assisted the project and learned some new woodworking skills along the way. Most of the materials were purchased on the local market, except for climbing equipment and 1000 grips that were collected by T-Wall and Skateistan in France and Germany.

Skateistan’s German division, Skateistan e.V., financed the project through a portion of the donations received through its fundraising activities. The future potential for the sport to grow in Afghanistan is exciting, as the country’s landscape boasts many natural wonders to challenge rock climbers of all abilities.

Assistant skate instructor, Fazila and student support officer, Mumtaz working on the climbing wall. German carpenters led the construction project and supervised the local team.

Benafscha trying out the new climbing wall as staff, volunteers and students look on.

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