Caught between a rock and a hard place? Dare to climb

 
 
 

Chalk-covered hands grip neon holds. Legs stretch across ledges to keep balance. One slip and you drop the ground. But the frustration of falling only fuels Glenn Moncrieff’s motivation. There’s a peak to reach – it’s just a matter of figuring out the route. He knows all too well the obstacles that come with climbing. Moncrieff has been doing it for 10 years, and relishes the process. “The unpredictability and challenges of a climbing wall mirror life,” he says. Because of this parallel, Moncrieff is showing the ropes to vulnerable youth.

Moncrieff co-founded the NPO DreamHigher to bring climbing to children living on the street. The sport requires resources and access. By opening it up to kids in Cape Town, Moncrieff is bridging social divides. “We are able to create an inspired and inclusive climbing community,” he says. Participants train on indoor climbing walls, as well as outdoor crags for bouldering. Hanging off a wall or rock without ropes, they confront fear head on. “It’s a mental challenge because you will fail many times, but it’s a process of learning to accept that and then overcome it,” Moncrieff says. Being outdoors also helps kids connect with their environment, and gain a sense of freedom. “I understand first-hand how being in nature can make a positive impact on one’s life,” Moncrieff says.

The children experience emotions from scared to elated while climbing. They can apply these moments to everyday events, and use them to face greater struggles. “It’s not just about the sport. It’s about the life lessons that we learn through it,” Moncrieff says. Taking youth to new heights, he demonstrates the possibilities that arise when we embrace failure. By picking ourselves up, we can try anything we set our minds to.