Climbing without borders
Once a year, the ClimbAID family organizes a bouldering weekend in the Swiss Alps. “It’s fun to meet so many new people,” says one participant named Johannes. Climbing partner Nahjib is also thrilled: “It’s cool to be out in the mountains. I get to climb and see new places,” he says. This was his first encounter with climbing. “At first it was hard, but then it starts to get exciting.” Enjoying a carefree weekend, making new friends and having fun – things neither of the two young men take for granted, which is true for most of the other participants as well.
The mission of the humanitarian organization ClimbAID is to plan climbing activities that promote the development of young people affected by war,
poverty and displacement. ClimbAID hopes to help them move past these traumatic
experiences by supporting their development and boosting their self-confidence.
ClimbAID was founded in Switzerland in 2016. There are currently four projects
underway. The MaXI Family network helps integrate asylum seekers in Switzerland
into the climbing community. ClimbAID is in charge of the bouldering area in
Zurich’s Stadionbrache city park. More than 400 children and young people from
Lebanon have participated in the climbing project called “A Rolling Rock” since
2017. Thanks to a program based in the Greek capital of Athens, unaccompanied minors currently housed at a refugee camp there regularly go climbing with ClimbAID mentors.
A shared affinity for climbing: Mammut has been a sponsor of the ClimbAID project since August 2020. Both the company and the non-profit believe that outdoor sports provide a safe space that promotes respectful forms of social interaction. Experiencing one’s own physical and mental strength, developing an appreciation for nature and learning to trust others are the primary objectives of the ClimbAID climbing excursions. “For us, it’s completely irrelevant where you’re from, what kind of background you have, or what your religion and residence status are,” says Beat Baggenstos, who founded ClimbAID. Here, everyone is simply a climber and a member of the climbing community. One participant named Merih certainly agrees: “ClimbAID is like a family for me.”