My gear’s in Rio: Asa Firestone poses with some young new climbers in Brazil.
In 2003, Boulderite Asa Firestone spent a year abroad studying engineering in Brazil. As a climber, he appreciated Rio de Janeiro’s dramatic granite domes jutting up just beyond the city, and couldn’t help but notice the massive favelas, or slums, along the slopes of the peaks he loved to climb. In fact, he was warned against climbing “Two Brothers,” one of the city’s iconic peaks, due to roving bands of teens with guns. Firestone, now 30, knew then that he wanted to do something to help usurp the dark allure of drugs, violence and gangs for kids in Rio de Janeiro with a more constructive risk—rock climbing.
Part of Firestone’s inspiration came from his first significant outdoor experience—a mountaineering course with Outward Bound during high school. “I needed something raw, something rough and in-your-face to give me direction,” he says. “Climbing did that for me.”
This fall, he launched Beyond Gear to begin to bring the transformative power of climbing to the shantytown youth of Rio de Janeiro. For every $1 of profit generated by selling climbing-themed products, ranging from jewelry to chalk bags, online, Beyond Gear donates $1 toward building a climbing wall at the Rocinha Sports Complex in one of Rio’s slopeside slums. gobeyondgear.com