A fire in a port storage facility in Beirut led to the explosion of 4 tons of ammonium nitrate on August 2020, 2750. The explosion destroyed parts of the port area and caused damage in large parts of the city of Beirut. According to government figures, 190 people were killed and more than 6 injured. The FLYP climbing hall is also affected by the explosion. The operators launched a crowdfunding campaign and asked for support for the reconstruction.

An amount from Juliane Sonntag

Diala Sammakieh, founder and operator of the climbing and fun sports hall FLYP in Beirut, wrote a circular to her team on August 4, 2020 that, contrary to the current opening times, she will not unlock the gates to the indoor walls on that day.

I just had such a strange feeling

Diala Sammakieh

Instead, she drives out to a nearby climbing area and has no idea that rock climbing will literally save her life.

Because while the managing directors are trying to get through their current project, over two thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explode in the port of the capital of Lebanon. 190 people die in this disaster and 6 people are injured. Buildings within a radius of up to 500 kilometers are damaged, including Diala's house and her company FLYP. Of the climbing hall, which was only 20 meters away from the source of the explosion, only a few steel girders and individual wall scraps remind of what used to be there.  

We would have lost 60 to 70 lives if we had opened on that day, because under no circumstances would anyone have come out alive. Especially in the climbing area where the walls have collapsed.

Diala Sammakieh

20 meter long, sharp components flew through the area, the whole hangar imploded. That day, Diala Sammakieh lost everything she worked for.

The political and economic situation is the real crux for the Lebanese people

The country was already weakened by the outbreak of the corona virus, the national financial crisis and the neighboring wars in Syria and the Gaza Strip, in which the ruling Hezbollah is involved and which, not least, also makes up a significant part of the Lebanese government. And the government should also face responsibility for the most serious, non-nuclear explosion in history, some citizens demand, and resign. 

Diala explains how she feels about the current situation: “The last year was a difficult year for Lebanon. We want to get rid of this obnoxious [government] party. And you can quote me on that, ”she laughs and immediately becomes serious again. "I've survived 15 years of civil war, I've watched politics for the past few years, and I've never seen such levels of destruction and despair and sadness."

Beirut's climbing community is now dependent on international help. She doesn't need to wait for government support. On the contrary: “Whenever international donations go to the government, the money ends up in the pockets of politicians. That is also the reason why NGOs worldwide now only donate to small, trustworthy organizations. Nobody trusts the authorities anymore, ”says the politically active Lebanese.

So start them up Crowdfunding project, which is to collect 30 US dollars with the help of international donations, with which she could relocate the climbing hall to a new location. The complete reconstruction is currently too expensive, so the FLYP team wants to recycle the few intact wall parts and reassemble them.

The tireless operator already knows where these should then be put back into operation: an exhibition center that was not used by the pandemic, only ten minutes away from the city center, is to be housed in the repaired hall for one to two years. Until business is up and running again and brings in enough money to resurrect the old FLYP. 

We want to open again quickly, we want to keep the climbing spirit going and we want to spread the message that we will survive and that we will stay here, come what may! We will climb here forever.

Diala Sammakieh

Before the onset of winter, she would like to open the “transition hall” in order to be able to offer the athletes a training facility for the cold months. 

FLYP, a meeting point for international climbers and local newcomers

FLYP was an urban resort where children, young people and adults could enjoy many different trend sports. It housed a trampoline hall, open spaces and obstacles for parcourists and freerunners, as well as bouldering, top rope and lead climbing walls. Young and old could let off steam on an area of ​​2000 square meters.

The climbing scene in Lebanon has grown continuously over the past few years. Many new rocky areas are being developed and these also attract familiar faces to the Middle East. For example David Lama, who was able to climb the Avataara (2015a) route in the Baatara Gorge for the first time in 9, or Nina Caprez, who is regularly drawn to Lebanon.

But not only the celebrities are responsible for the growth, the FLYP team is also a major reason. When it opened two years ago, the hall offered a second home for 20 climbers. Shortly before the lockdown, this community grew to around 150 members. 

I can proudly say that most of our climbers discovered the sport through us. And most customers were instantly as obsessed as I was. Then they climbed 5a and now, two years later, 7b's and 7c's. We also have 50 children who have trained here regularly and who now lack that.

Diala Sammakieh

Support the crowdfunding project of the climbing hall FLYP

Now support the Diala Sammakieh crowdfunding project and help that the hall can be set up as quickly as possible at a new location and at least in a smaller form.

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Credits: Cover picture George Emile