Last year I met with Patagonia about our First Climbing School in Iraq and they were stoked and wanted to help, recently sending us their new Black Hole bags (check them out below!). As a company known for supporting positive outdoor initiatives, our project is exactly what they encourage. Presently there is no boy/girl scout program or any other national outdoor education program in Iraq, more-so in 2014 there were only about 100 climbers total – a number that exploded to over 2,000 people per month visiting their mountains in 2018; it’s easy to see why a school is so critical. Patagonia’s donation follows a successful international effort to equip the school with all of the gear they need to teach climbing and mountaineering. Click here to see all of the gear that has been donated so far, and please consider making a donation as we fund raise for our 9 m / 30 ft climbing wall to be constructed in 2020.
About School, Why Bags
Our school is based in a successful community center in Sulaymaniyah, known as the “Paris of Iraq,” and services over 1,500 members with diverse classes like ballet, martial arts, math & reading and writing in multiple languages, fashion and design, and has over 5,000 sq. ft. of space outdoors where we are constructing a climbing wall and a bouldering wall. Check out the 360/VR Tour of the school and placement of the wall. Our teachers are some of the most knowledgeable mountaineers and climbers in Iraq, and one of our goals is to get all of the instructors certified to international standards by 2020. Classes will be taught inside the center, with technical instruction on the climbing walls, and practical skills taught on trips to the nearby mountains. For this reason, a set of bags that can withstand practically any environment is a key donation to carry the gear on these excursions – and such bright colors are sure to catch the attention of those who can catch the climbing bug!
Patagonia’s Recycled Black Hole® Bags
Patagonia’s new Black Hole® line of bags recreates the design that made these so famous among adventurers, but this time with a new environmentally friendly production. The bags are made with 10 million plastic bottles to create the 100% recycled body fabric and webbing. The best part is that this does not affect durability or performance, in fact only providing more reasons to make this your next bag, and they continue to be backed by Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee.
The bags we received are the 100L Black Hole Wheeled Duffel in orange and the 70L Black Hole Duffel in green. Both bags feature the recognizable burly polyester ripstop fabric with highly weather-resistant TPU-film laminate and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish, and sturdy, reinforced daisy chains for lashing and attaching other accessories.
The 100L Black Hole Wheeled Duffel has a telescoping handle attached to a rigid base with a solid set of wheels that can take a pounding off the pavement and protective rails along the bottom to prevent wear and tare. For heavy loads, the bag features reinforced haul handles and for smaller loads the inside of the bag includes compression straps. For small item storage, there is one outside pocket with the same sturdy zippers as the main compartment, and two mesh pockets on the inside lid.
The 70L Black Hole Duffel is a soft bag that turns into a backpack and actually packs into one of its own pockets for storage and transportation. This pocket can hold smaller gear or toiletries as it is accessible from both the outside and the inside and, as with the wheeled duffel, the inside lid includes two mesh pockets. The pack also comes with two padded shoulder straps that quickly snap onto the bag for the convenience of a backpack and a padded bottom that protects any rigid or fragile contents of the bag.
All of the mountaineers and climbers of Iraq wish to thank Patagonia for sending these incredible bags that will surely be tested in the unclimbed and unexplored regions of the country. To set the standard for climbing in the country, we definitely have the best start with gear. Right now we are fund raising for the 30 ft / 9 m climbing wall at the center – please consider making a donation and sign up to receive updates.