You may not think it was possible, but people have been skiing in Afghanistan for years - with a hike up rather than any high speed quad chairs surprisingly.

Now it's getting organised and next month the second Afghan Ski Challenge takes place in the scenically beautiful Bamiyan valley.

There's even an international sponsor for March 2012 in the form of Canadian skiwear firm Arc'teryx.
Bamiyan was once famous for its giant Buddha statues which attracted around 150,000 tourists each year, but after they were destroyed by the Taliban, there are no longer any visitors, although there has been no sign of war in the region for more than a decade.

The area does still have at least one major asset remaining though according to reports, great snow, due to its very dry climate and north facing slopes.

The Bamiyan Ski Club was established in 2011 by Swiss journalists and Afghan locals to the northern exposition and a very dry climate.

Participation in the Afghan Ski Challenge - described as "a backcountry ski touring race" involved the training of 10 local people who were taught how to ski and competed in the race free of charge along with paying Swiss competitors.
"150 years ago, the British brought skiing to Switzerland. Now the Swiss bring skiing to Afghanistan," said a statement from the race organisers.

Info from their home page

The Afghan Ski Challenge is a freeride ski race, which takes place every March in Bamiyan Province, Central Afghanistan. The event is organized by the Bamiyan Ski Club and open to all. The founding members of the Bamiyan Ski Club include skiing enthusiasts from Afghanistan and Switzerland. The aim is to promote skiing and tourism in the Bamiyan region.

- LOCATION Koh-e-Baba Mountain Range, Bamiyan Province, Central Afghanistan, approximately 180km west of the capital Kabul.

- COURSE Downhill, Overall Distance: 7 Kilometers, Overall difference in altitude: 1200 Meters. Lowest Point: 2900, Highest Point 3400.

- RULES No weapons. Everyone starts at the same time. The winner is the first person to cross the finish line having successfully registered at all the check points along the way. Skis and Snow Boards are allowed.

- ENTRY FEES The event is free to Afghan Nationals; all others need to contribute US$500. All entrants are issued with an exclusive Afghan Ski Challenge jacket. These have been produced especially for the event. The ski race is a non-profit event and all proceeds will feed back into the support and promotion of skiing and tourism in the Bamiyan region.


SAFETY AND SECURITY The mountains of Afghanistan are not the Alps nor the Rocky Mountains. There is no mountain rescue service nor avalanche warning systems in place and local medical facilities are basic. Mobile phone service is patchy at best and non existent in the mountains. Although the province of Bamiyan is known as one of the safest in Afghanistan, the current political situation across the country is far from stable. We strongly advise all participants to arrange insurance before entering the competition and consider suitable personal security measures if desired. All participants take part solely at their own risk.  

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