2023 MPA Nominee –
8vos a los 30s: Ep # 1 Fernanda Lechón
Rock climbing trips empowering indigenous women to catalyse planned development
8vos a los 30s was born from the spirit of sharing the growth of Ecuador’s female rock climbers. The web series carries out rock climbing trips (rocktrips) for 10 years throughout the world with women from rural indigenous communities of Ecuador who without the support would never be able to live this experience, and who use the journey to build their own community projects in their own territories.
View of UIAA MPA Assessor
The project uses climbing as the main entry point to better include women, youth and indigenous communities and develop the sport through a teaching. 8vos a los 30s is very strong in terms of its people with a focus on empowering women, developing a business beneficial for the communities and targeting indigenous people in Ecuador. The mountain protection aspect focuses on the camping area, dry toilets, and teaching the leave no trace concept.
Vision, goals and aim of the project:
More details on the project + project status as per May 2023
A project started by Andrea Carolina Castillo Piedra in 2021 and expected to last until 2032, 8vos a los 30s (“Octavos a los Treintas”) is an initiative that organizes annual rock trips over 10 years with indigenous Ecuadorian women who implement mountain projects in their community. Each year, each trip results in a documentary-style video sharing her climbing journey and her indigenous community. This episode and the resulting diffusion of media is used to raise awareness about the project with her people in the mountains.
Support for the completion of the social-environmental side of the project is still needed, namely to build a new camping-cafe named Amarumi (a word in kichwa language, meaning “strong woman”) that is central to the growth of the indigenous community of Cayambe hand-in-hand with the growth of sustainable climbing tourism, as rising numbers of climbers are impacting their local mountains in a multitude of ways. Among the environmental tasks laid out to be undertaken from 2023-2024, are:
- Access trail development to the climbing site, camping site, and dry toilets
- Design, planning, and construction of a dry toilet
- Planning and execution of waste management in the climbing area, environmental education on Leave No Trace principles.
- Annual or semi-annual monitoring to assess the status of wildlife and flora populations and their connection with the rural-urban community
- Proposal and management model for the climbing area
- Declaration of heritage trees: Pumamaqui (Oreopanax ecuadorensis)
- Signage as infographic series regarding wildlife, specifying the species that can be found and basic behaviors that should be maintained to safeguard their survival
Episode #1 of the series was documented in Chilean Patagonia, and is the story of Fernanda Lechón: the first young indigenous woman from Pesillo (belonging to the Kichwa Kayambi people’s territory). The small group climbs in northern Patagonia, takes a WFR (Wilderness First Responder) course, and provides menstrual education workshops. Episode #1 shows her process of training and her effort to join 8vos at 30s; the reality of being an indigenous woman in a developing country like Ecuador; the limitations that women live with respect to access to menstrual education and natural contraception; access to healthy food in Ecuador; and the contamination of the climbing sectors, inspiring the Amarumi family camping-cafeteria enterprise.
The name of the project originates from Andrea’s motivation to one day climb 8th grade routes in her 30s, but it is also an analogy to the process involved in climbing routes of this level, in relation to how complex it can be to organize an international climbing trip for people from rural communities in a country with high rates of migration, poverty, hunger and crime.
Produced and scripted by professional climber and rock instructor Andrea Castillo and directed by Bernarda Cornejo, this project is inspired by Andrea’s pilot projects “Latitud Cero Climbing RockTrip Ecuador” (whose impact was recognized by the UN) and “Escalando desde lo local”.
The vision of the project is to empower women and indigenous communities to catalyze planned development that will sustainably benefit indigenous territories near climbing areas in Ecuador. Then, to showcase the project to the world to inspire other women and indigenous communities around the world.
Federación Ecuatoriana de Andinismo y Escalada
Please note that the content published in this article is courtesy of the Award nominee. The UIAA has made minor revisions to the original submission. To discover more about the UIAA Mountain Protection Award please click here.