The staff of Skateistan puts up Kabul’s first rock wall and give locals around Istalef their first peek at climbing.

For over a year, we’ve covered the development of Skateistan, a non-profit school and skate park that aims to use skateboarding to bring together Afghani kids from different social classes. When the park opened in 2009, it was the first of its kind in Afghanistan.

Last year, Skateistan added climbing to its program, bringing in German engineers and carpenters to construct Kabul’s first rock wall. The idea came from Max Henninger, Skateistan’s deputy director, who told me in an email that climbing naturally fit with the group’s mission.

“Climbing is a sport that encourages trust, partnership, and self-confidence,” Henninger said. “For example, children and youngsters of different social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds learn to rely on each other when climbing and belaying.”

Thanks to Skateistan for these photos of staff members climbing indoors and outdoors around Afghanistan. To see more on Skateistan, check out our preview of last year’s Adventure Film Festival, which included a documentary on the organization.

All images ©Skateistan. All rights reserved.


1. Skateistan skate instructor Fazila drills during construction of the climbing wall in November 2010.


2. Student support officer Mumtaz and skate instructor Merza learn some new woodworking skills.


3. An overview of the construction site.


4. Skateistan instructor and veteran climber, Jake Simkin (right), with German carpenter Martin Walch.


5. Skateistan's education coordinator Benafsha Tasmim, from Kabul, climbs for the very first time.


6. Skateistan skate instructor Wahila begins her first climb.


7. Skateistan co-founder Shams Razi tests out the climbing wall.


8. The new Skateistan climbing wall is summited for the very first time by Skateistan staff member Benafsha Tasmim.


9. Simon Letellier at Peanut Gallery. This was the first time anyone had seen climbing there.


10. Simon Letellier climbs as Jake Simkin belays in Istalef, Afghanistan.


11. Max Henninger makes his way toward the castle ruins near Bamyan.


12. Max Henninger climbs at the Peanut Gallery spot in Istalef, Afganistan.


13. Max Henninger descending after doing the first climb at the Peanut Gallery, Istalef.


14. Jake Simkin and Max Henninger set up the ropes at a spot outside of Bamyan, Afghanistan.


15. Erika Kinast has her first go at climbing in Afghanistan as Jake Simkin belays.