ICH WILL DA RAUF
At The North Face, we’ve always believed walls are not obstacles that divide us; they are opportunities to bring us together. This is exactly what Ich Will Da Rauf (I Want To Get Up There) does.
Uniquely, it doesn’t just cater to physically disabled people. Its climbing groups are actually designed to bring both disabled people – physically and mentally – and non-disabled people together, as such it welcomes everyone regardless of age, race, gender or disability.
But for much of this year its fundamental mission has been virtually impossible. Germany, like almost every other country on the planet, introduced a Covid-19 lockdown. Only strictly necessary functions stayed open. Climbing gyms, being recreational facilities, weren’t on that list.
Humans are social beings. We seek out company, like-minded people and shared experiences. Evidence is emerging of the detrimental mental health effects of coronavirus lockdowns on all of us. But for people already struggling with mental health or those in high-risk groups, lockdown posed an even greater challenge.
“Many of our members are part of the high-risk group for Covid-19 complications,” explains Lena. “The crisis has affected existing anxieties, but also new anxieties have emerged. Our members have lost the climbing club as their anchor.”
Ich Will Da Rauf has been ‘an anchor’ for both disabled and non-disabled climbers since 2009. It was created to fill a hole: despite the now evident interest, there was a complete lack of accessible climbing spaces.
But it started almost by chance. In 2008, a physiotherapist took his wheelchair-bound 14-year-old patient, Linda, to a climbing wall. Rather than seeing the wall as an obstacle Linda looked up at it and said, “Ich will da rauf!”, which means “I want to get up there!”. In spite of her disability this is exactly what she did. Rather than seeing the absence of accessible climbing gyms as a problem, Linda, her family and her coach saw this as an opportunity. A year later they set up Ich Will Da Rauf.