Climbing for a Reason is a nonprofit co-founded by Luis Birkner and Mateo Barrenengoa which strives to bring rock climbing to underprivileged communities around the world.
In August 2021, Birkner and Barrenengoa visited in Daskoor with famed Italian alpinist Tamara Lunger and Italo-Egyptian climber Wafaa Amer. Over three weeks, they developed the region’s first rock climbing area with 19 new sport routes up to 5.11c and built a public climbing wall with more than 500 holds. They also taught climbing safety practices and donated enough climbing gear to last the community for years. They also helped the locals start a climbing club, the first in the Shigar Valley.
In an early press release about the project stated, “Watching these girls climb for the first time in their lives, watching them play with each other… on their new climbing wall and on their own rocks, and seeing them feel like they were fighting a history of repressed women was priceless.” After her trip, Lunger said, “I leave Daskoor with mixed feelings. I have really grown fond of these girls and they have become almost a little part of me, on the other hand I know, that now they will have to find in themselves the will and the strength to continue and grow what we started.”
In Amer’s Instagram post below, she talks about not having access to climbing. Some of her words below are translated to: “As a child I had a hard time practicing this sport, climbing. I have done it secretly for years because due to my culture I was not allowed to go where I want, when I want, because I’m a woman. I was able to do it only thanks to many people who helped me… Now I too have managed to give to the children of Shigar.”
Climbing for a Reason is an international non-profit project that seeks to teach low-income communities to climb on their local rocks while also jumpstarting climbing-specific tourism and empowering local kids. Bircher said they want “to try to turn local communities into climbers of their own rocks and give them the tools so that in some way they can later develop tourism.”