From strife to sticky rubber: A look at Five Ten’s Middle East Climbing Team

In the midst of so much dark news from the Middle East, Five Ten hopes to build something that brings people together — climbing.
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In the midst of so much dark news from the Middle East, Five Ten hopes to build something that brings people together — climbing.

The California-based brand created the world’s first Middle East Climbing Team, hoping to bring positive attention to athletes and outdoor lovers in a region known better for rocket launchers. The team is led by Hakim Tamimi, a Jordanian climber and owner of Tropical Desert, an adventure outfitter that offers rock climbing, canyoneering and hiking trips across Jordan, as well as a rock climbing school for training the young climbers in the region.

FiveTenMiddleEastClimbingTeam

“Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, we just continue to do our thing here, setting up routes, and trying to build a healthy, friendly community,” Tamimi said. “We are grateful to Five Ten for the recognition and appreciation for what we are doing, in a region otherwise known for war, sorrow and sadness.”

Iraqi team member Bassam Kubba has been a refugee from his home country in Syria and Jordan, where he worked to develop the local climbing crags and community. Five Ten’s Nancy Pritchard-Bouchard recently documented that scene in the Wadi Rum in Climbing magazine and Jordanian tourism has been busy promoting the country, which has remained peaceful in a sea of turmoil. In 2014, Kubba, who is also a yogi, became a refugee in the United States and has been climbing in Colorado and New York.

Other members of the team include George Emil from Lebanon, who has been establishing new routes in Tannourine in his home country.

“In order to bolt routes, we go up to the mountains with a diesel drill and bury it when we are finished. Each time we return, we bring petrol and sometimes a small engine to recharge the drills,” he said.

Other climbers on the team include Marwan Maayta, who has been invited on the Petzl Rock Trip 2014; Hamad Sawajani, who has put up routes in the United Arab Emirates and Oman; slackliner Aboud Hijazi, who set up the first high line in Jordan; and Safa Muhi, a Iraqi woman who sees the sport as a way to break past the pain of the ongoing war there and to empower Middle Eastern women.

“All of my negative energy now gets channeled into and freely absorbed by the rock as I try to send a route,” Muhi said.

--Doug Schnitzspahn

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