Growing up most of my life in New York City, I never gave much thought to “extreme” sports such as rock climbing. However, one of the things I’m most grateful for hear at Sustainable Roots is that my boss Toni is an avid climber. We just took ten Cosanga kids from curso to climb the Wednesday before New Years. They were all very excited and a few seemed to be natural climbers. Toni set up three routes and everyone who wanted got to try each one.

It should be no surprise that rock climbing comes with a hefty price tag. The ropes, harnesses, and other equipment total hundreds or thousands of dollars. No wonder then that the first experience climbing for nearly all the Cosanga kids was through Sustainable Roots with Toni. In rural Ecuador, monthly incomes per household are usually a few hundred dollars. The Kevlar ropes used for climbing come in at about two hundred dollars each, generally out of reach except for a few wealthy quiteños. Many of the children and adults who live in Cuyuja, with its hundred or so routes up an impressive cliff face, stare blankly at us when we tell them we’re coming to climb (escalar). A sport that happens practically in their backyards remains alien and inaccessible to them. Hopefully we will have a chance to take some of them as well.

I had a great time rock climbing with the students from Cosanga. First there was shear exhilaration of the sport. But the trip also made me think about all the incredible resources in Ecuador that are often only accessible to small parts of the population. Why is it that most of the excellent cacao and coffee grown here is never seen in the local stores and restaurants? Why do some children suffer from malnutrition in this fruit-and-vegetable paradise? Such questions carry economic and political implications on a national and global level. Something as seemingly neutral and apolitical as rock climbing should therefore also enter into discussions about the distribution of resources and the opportunity to access them.  

N.N. Sustainable Roots Volunteer

Posted by ryanlynch