|About UIAA||Members||Standards||Olympic Movement||Sponsors & Partners|
UIAA youth mark Olympic peace
25 Aug 2008
As the flame in Beijing was extinguished on August 24, hundreds of young climbers from around the world lit torches on mountaintops to keep Olympic values alive.
“The emotions and feeling that we were gathering with our friends on different peaks in the world on the same day, same hour, it was really special,” says Zdenka Mihelic from the UIAA Youth Commission.
In South Africa, Italy, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Greece young climbers celebrated "Ekecheiria", the ancient Greeks' name for the peaceful period which reigned during the Olympic Games.
"I am very happy to see so many young climbers and mountaineers being inspired by the Olympic Games and its spirit of peace and co-operation and in their own way going faster, higher and stronger," says UIAA Youth Commission President Anne Arran.
In Greece local youth joined by climbers from South Korea, Spain, Italy and China ascended Mount Olympus (2,917 m) and lit a torch. The participants were favoured with sunny and warm weather and made contact with youth in other countries by mobile phone. This event was organised by the Hellenic Mountaineering and Climbing Federation and the Italian Alpine Club (CAI).
Fresh snow prevented Slovenian youth from ascending Triglav (2,864 m), the highest peak of Slovenia, as planned. Instead they decided to light torches on several mountaintops.“We are sending to all mountaineers, to all people and the whole world the message of peace, friends and friendship, love, respect, unity, joy and happiness,” says Zdenka Mihelic, who herself ascended Mala Mojstrovka. "In the mountains there is peace, happiness and true friendships, in mountains all people are friends to all. Let’s spread that friendship and peace from the mountains to the valleys and to all people.”
The Alpine club Mercator ascended Mahavscek=Veliki Bogatin (2,008 m): "We were 25 young and a little bit less young, but we all felt young in our hearts," says leader Martin Slemensek.
In Ukraine a group of young climbers lit a symbolic torch on Mt.Goverla, 2058 m. "Our youth has responded to the call from UIAA Youth Commission and CAI of peace and friendship for the people of the whole world," says Alexander Zaidler from the Ukrainian Mountaineering Federation.
The Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) took the opportunity to turn "Ekecheiria" into an outreach initiative. They invited young participants who are normally not involved with climbing and mountaineering. These included young people from the Johannesburg Children's Home, other homes for disadvantaged children, a church youth group, a Soweto youth group, the Voortrekkers youth organisation and the Scouts.
"Everyone in South Africa seems to have had a ball! We had some 185 participants," says Jenny Paterson from the MCSA. Young people ascended Lion's Head and mountain tops in Magaliesberg and Helderberg. There was a special event for those under 8 years old, a climb to the top of the Bronberg.
Here are some of their messages: "Goeiedag/ Good Day to all in the world who are climbing mountains today to promote Olympic ideals of Friends & Peace! Greetings from the Glastonbury Ridge of the Bronberg ('Source Mountains') in South Africa from Lize (6), Zak (1,5) & parents." "Hi we are from Cape Town, we made it to Lions Head, yay finally! Remember friendship and peace." "Hi from Stellenboschberg in South Africa. Cloudy, cold and rain but kids are happy to be out!" "At our summit highest point in North West province. 100 youths plus and 20 adults. Well done to all."
The purpose of all these events, which are part of the UIAA Global Youth Summit, was to keep the Olympic values and ideals alive, sending a message of peace and friendship around the world.