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Rock climbing to assist the economic development of rural communities in Lebanon


Rock climbing to assist the economic development of rural communities in Lebanon

The mountainous cliffs around Tannourine sheltered early Christian monks from religious persecution and offered solitude to hermits for centuries. Now the orange escarpments are alive with cries of “Yalla!” as rock climbers test their courage on the steep routes.

Transforming the crags of Mount Lebanon into a sports haven for climbing enthusiasts is the latest project of the Rock climbing Association for Development (RAD). In the first 4 months of a 5 year project, 30 pitches have been built to an international standard.

The limestone walls around Tannourine El Tahta village are an hour and a half from the heat of Beirut. Climbing in cooler climes can help rural tourism and improve economic developement.

Taking care to preserve historic sites, route building is not carried out in areas of archaeological interest. As well as raising the bar for local climbers, it’s hoped that the impeccable quality of rock will be a pull for climbing tourists from all over the world.

Bert Harb runs a store in town and says, “I need tourists for my shop. Now I see many climbers. They come into my shop... it’s very good for my store.” Tannourine’s Mayor is highly supportive of the venture: “I want Tannourine to be the national centre for rock climbing,” says Mounir Torbey. 

RAD teamed up with Lebanese climbers Jad Khoury and George Emil to established bolted rock climbs of all grades and difficulties.

The mountains have acted as a natural barrier between communities for centuries. It’s hoped that by focusing on sports, the new generation of Lebanese will see the benefit.


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Kate Anderson


Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 23:00