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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Incoming - Afghan Ski Challenge!

Second running of ski-touring race in war-torn Afghanistan supported by Canadian outdoors brand, Arc'teryx

by Jon

We doubt many of you are about to down tools and fly out to Afghanistan for the second Afghan Ski Challenge next weekend, but it's kind of uplifting to learn that the war-torn country is hosting a ski touring race in the Bamiyan region.

Bamiyan was once known worldwide for its giant statues of Buddha, but since they were destroyed and despite the war not affecting the region otherwise since 2001, the area has lost its tourist income and become desperately poor with visitor numbers shrinking from 150,000 per year to virtually nil.

It does, however, have perfect ski conditions and last year a small team formed from employees at Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper and local ski enthusiasts from Afghanistan decided to found the Bamiyan Ski Club and launch the first Afghan Ski Challenge – a backcountry ski touring race.

Last year ten locals learned to ski and competed in the first Afghan Ski Challenge, but this year, the event is open to international competitors for the first time with an entry fee of $500 which will be donated to local sports and educational projects in Afghanistan. You do get a limited edition event jacket though.

There's no mobile phone coverage or mountain rescue and local facilities are best decribed as basic, with 'rustic accommodation' and poor medical back-up and it's a long way to go for a 5km ski race, but it should be something you'll never forget.

The Afghan Ski Challenge takes place on 2 March, 2012 and you can find full details at www.afghanskichallenge.com.


Outdoor Magic

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