December 4, 2023

Food for the sole: how Climberspace is leading the Middle East's eco-friendly climbing scene

As the severe economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Lebanon, passionate climber, Jad Issa, saw the climbing community suffer from a lack of access to equipment. Inaccessible raw materials and machinery needed for shoe repair left many climbers with no other options than to throw away their climbing shoes at the slightest tear. These shoes would eventually end up rotting in hazardous landfills, and would leave fellow climbers without the equipment they need to pursue their passion.

Out of a desire to keep Lebanon’s climbing scene alive and to protect the local environment, Jad co-founded Climberspace in 2020. This pioneering startup offers a place for climbers to bring their worn out climbing shoes for repair. In Climberspace’s workshop, shoes are examined, cleaned, and repaired accordingly, with the option of entirely re-soling the shoe if necessary. After their makeover, the shoes are returned to the customers who can pursue their passion without it contributing to the accumulation of waste in Lebanon.

In Climberspace’s workshop, shoes are examined, cleaned, and repaired.© SPARK, 2023

Being the first resoling business in Lebanon, Climberspace had to navigate unknown business terrain, in a particularly difficult economic context. Climberspace participated in ‘SCALE HUB’ initiative which is part of the From Innovation to Creation programme funded by the European Union, in collaboration with SPARK and The Nawaya Network. The objective of the programme is to support pioneering entrepreneurs to lead the transition to a greener, more sustainable future. 

Through the programme, the team at Climberspace received training on a variety of topics relating to building a successful and sustainable business, such as financial management and accounting. With financial support from the programme, Climberspace was able to invest in state-of-the-art machinery and tools for the workshop, which has significantly enhanced its repair turnaround capabilities. This development has not only ensured efficient repairing of the customer’s climbing shoes but has also allowed the business to meet the growing demand for its services. 

Climberspace has been very successful in Lebanon and has now extended its activities to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, and hopes to share its resoling services with even more climbers across the region. Jad has also been active in setting up Climberspace’s ‘Space Fest’, a festival that brings together climbers from all over the world, to participate in outdoor activities of all kinds, such as  rock climbing and bouldering. As Climberspace blossoms, Jad continues to think of new ways to develop and expand his business, in line with his commitment to the environment and his love for climbing.