KABUL’S FIRST SKATE PARK, Skateistan, got a little bigger recently with the addition of an indoor climbing wall, the first of its kind to be built in the Afghan capital.
A team of engineers with German climbing wall manufacturer T-Wall constructed the 30-foot tower with the help of a group of Afghan youth from the school. In an email, Max Henniger, Skateistan’s deputy director, said that students showed great interest in the wall from the early stages.
“They learned how to work with tools and wood, but most important was that they developed ownership over the wall,” he said.
A Matter of Trust
Henniger first got the idea to add a climbing tower to Skateistan while rock climbing with the German Alps Association in Weinheim, when some climbers suggested it to him.
“We thought that having a climbing wall would be a great asset for Skateistan’s mission to establish trust between Afghan kids from different backgrounds, but also between Afghans and foreigners,” Henniger said. “Furthermore, 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.”
The first person up Skateistan’s new wall was the park’s newest staff member, a 23-year-old Afghan woman named Benafsha who managed to reach the top of the route despite never having climbed before.
According to Henniger, Benafsha told staff afterward that “her legs turned to jelly, and she never thought she would make it.”
“In the end, she managed to climb the first route first try – she has achieved something she never thought she would, and nobody can take this positive experience away from her,” he said.
A documentary on Skateistan was recently featured in the Adventure Film Festival.
Read our first article about Skateistan from 2009.