Founding Story

A letter from the founder of BEYONDgear, Asa Firestone

The Rocinha Favela below the North face of the Two Brothers Peak

BEYONDgear was founded on the simple principle that adventure can be used for good. In 2003, while living in Brazil, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro to climb on the wild granite peaks that erupt right out of the city. On the slopes of these cliffs, massive favelas (slums) have spawned from decades of Brazilian social inequalities. While visiting Rio, I was inspired to climb the wild ‘Two Brothers’ peak that soars 1,000 feet above the famous Ipanema Beach. Talking with local climbers, I was told it was too dangerous due to heavily armed drug militias that make their headquarters in the nearby favelas. I was frustrated that a peak could not be climbed because of crime. I decided to do my part to change that by sharing my positive experiences of climbing with the favela community. By providing outdoor education and enabling access to the climbing resources just above the favelas, the power of adventure can be harnessed to change lives.

The Two Brothers Peak as seen from Ipanema Beach in Rio. The Vidigal Favela is seen to the left of the peaks and the massive Rocinha Favela is just behind the peaks.

In 2011, I teamed up with Andrew Lenz, a brilliant local climbing guide, to form the CEU Urban Climbing School in the Rocinha Favela. Rocinha is one of the largest slums in Brazil and located just below the Two Brothers Peak. CEU currently has 15 local students that participate in climbing trips, skills training, and environmental stewardship. CEU believes that the skills learned through climbing can create confidence and leadership skills in youth as well as teach risk management to the youth of the favelas. To further facilitate this mission, CEU obtained permission from the Brazilian Bureau of Sports to build a professional climbing wall in the government managed Rocinha sports complex.

Climbing Sugarloaf Peak with the CEU Urban Climbing School

In order to help fund this project, BEYONDgear was created. BEYONDgear is an outdoor lifestyle brand that utilizes the power of adventure to create positive impact in at-risk communities. Every purchase of BEYONDgear jewelry and apparel gives an adventure experience to an at-risk youth. BEYONDgear aims to enable outdoor enthusiasts to share their positive experiences in the outdoors with kids who would never have that opportunity otherwise. Together, we can generate an entire movement to use #adventure4good.