Tourists support Afghanistan’s only ski race & help to form a new club

As tourists have started to return to Afghanistan over the past 18 months, some have helped to arrange the country’s only ski race.

Now a new ski club has launched in Bamyan Province, with a helping hand from international visitors, and there is a plea for more support from the international community.

Bamyan is one of the least developed provinces in Afghanistan, which is one of the least developed countries in Asia.

The aim of the Bamyan Alpine Ski Club is to support the local community by training Afghan children in sports, arranging competitions in the region and managing the equipment that has been donated over the years by tourists, including from Untamed Borders’ guests.

A former local club stopped operating when the Taliban retook control of the country, but the new organisation has risen from the ashes.

International skiers will return to the region’s Koh e Baba Mountain Range in February with Untamed Borders, where guests will meet the team from the Bamyan Alpine Ski Club and support it personally. Guests will take part in the nation’s only ski competition – the Afghan Peaks Ski Race – which brings together international tourists and the fledgling Afghan ski community.

However, for those who can’t join the trip, the club has launched an international membership scheme, so people can support the organisation from afar.

Untamed Borders were the first company to organise ski tourism to the country back in 2011 and it’s organised annual group trips ever since.

During that time the company has ensured guests understand the difficulties faced by Afghan skiers and the benefits there are for its mountain communities by there being a well organised sporting club in the region.

Photo credit – Afghan Peaks Charitable Trust

Many Afghan skiers currently use homemade wooden skis to be able to take part in the sport, which provides a vital outlet from the hardships in the region and an opportunity to mix with people from other nations.

On the trips guests often donate equipment and funds to support local grassroots skiing, which is a valuable source of tourism and income for people who live in Bamyan Province.

Visitors have also played an important role on ski trips to Afghanistan by offering ski training advice for locals and helping to improve the local infrastructure.

Although international visitor numbers are on the rise again, many of Bamyan Province’s potential ski slopes remain undiscovered and it’s this unique opportunity to ski virgin slopes, which is an exciting prospect for adventurous ski tourists.

Photo credit – Neil Silverton

Continued visits to the region and support from foreign tourists has the potential to make lasting change in the area, as Untamed Borders’ Founder, James Willcox, explains…

 “We only consider a trip to be true success if there are benefits for the communities we visit, along with our international guests.

The ski trips have always fitted the bill because our guests not only get an extraordinary insight into rural Afghanistan in winter, but they also support the Afghans living in the area by providing equipment, ski training and take part in other schemes.

Now we also support the new local ski club, which is a long-term initiative to provide lasting change for the youth in the region and the wider community.”

It’s part of a growing trend of ski tourists visiting more adventurous destinations and locations – Untamed Borders reported last year that there is a growing number of people seeking skiing tours in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, among many other unconventional ski destinations.

To become an international member of the Bamyan Alpine Ski Club please visit the Afghan Peaks website, or even better, join Untamed Borders on the February Afghan Ski trip, which is bookable now on our website.