UIAA Friendship and Peace Youth Meet: Ekecheiria is the Greek name – literally meaning ‘holding of hands’- given to the period of truce announced before, during and after each of the Olympic festivals to allow visitors to travel safely to Olympia.
The Hellenic and Italian Alpine Clubs collaborated to arrange a youth expedition to Mt Olympus to coincide with the day that the Olympic flame in Beijing was doused – why douse it; why not let it continue? – and so the 205 Torches initiative was conceived. Youth groups set out to light torches on an equal number of peaks.
We turned it into an international event! The South African initiative on 24 August 2008 turned into a big outreach one. In Cape Town, 25 students from local schools climbed Lion’s Head. In Somerset West, Ulli Deutschländer and members of the Hottentots Holland Section’s search and rescue team accompanied 25 youths from the Scouts and Voortrekker movements up Helderberg West Peak. A second group ascended Stellenbosch Berg.
The Johannesburg and Magaliesberg Sections joined forces. A group of 105 children and 20 adults travelled to the Magaliesberg to climb to the highest point in the North West Proince. These children came from church and youth groups in Soweto, Eldorado Park and Ennerdale, and from the Maria Klopper children’s homes. Not to be left out, Petro Grobler (Magaliesberg Section) arranged a toddlers’ meet – participants were 18 months to six years old and on a glorious Highveld day, ascended Glastonbury Ridge of the Bronberg!