For a lot of skiers and snowboarders the days they are able to get out and ride are not as many as they'd like to have, and are often at the usual suspects of ski vacation destinations. Colorado, Utah, British Columbia or Vermont if you're in North America. France, Switzerald, Austria if you're in Europe, and New Zealand, or Chile for those in the Southern Hemisphere. How about Afghanistan though? For those who dream of hundreds of first descents coupled with virtually all of the fresh powder you could want, the war-stricken country has more to offer than you might think.
The Afghan Province of Bamyan has been relatively sheltered from the recent war, and was once home to the world's largest statue of Buddha, until the Taliban destroyed it in 2001. The isolated province is surrounded by a bevy of large, snow-capped mountains that can be a scourge for farmers, but also offer a unique recreational opportunity not found anywhere else in Afghanistan. The Bamyan Ski Club, situated in the Province, will be holding it's 5th Afghan Ski Challenge at the beginning of 2015. Being in a relatively safe area the Afghan Ski Challenge offers a way for locals to be introduced to the sport, as well as highlighting the area to potential skiers, and snowboarders, looking for a very interesting, offbeat place to take their turns. It's back to basics skiing as there are no lifts, no groomers, and no lodges to speak of save for a lone Bamyan ski shop, the only ski shop in Afghanistan.
The Bamyan Ski Club was started by a group of Swiss and Aghan skiers set on bringing some vibrancy back to the Province, and taking advantage of the excellent terrain the area has to offer. They're not alone in this venture. A few years ago mountain guides James Willcox and Kausar Hussein started up Untamed Borders, a UK based outfit that will set you up with everything you need to make a ski trip to Afghanistan happen. For around $2500, not including airfare to Kabul, they'll take you on an in-depth guide of the country's tumultuous Capital, and the Bamyan Province. They even provide security. You can also use their services to explore other hotspots around the world including Chechnya, and Somalia.
So next time your thinking of where to go to get some pow turns in maybe consider Afghanistan. It's definitely not without it's risks, but as they say, "the greater the risk, the greater the reward." Plus, how many people can say they skied in Afghanistan?