The white silk road - skiing in Afghanistan
The Bamiyan Valley is one of the most beautiful places Afghanistan has to offer, but unfortunately this area is best known for the destruction of the ancient Buddha statues by the Taliban in 2001. Before skiing arrived to Bamiyan, winter was a desolate time of unemployment. Now, skiing has attracted visitors and is one sign of repose and hope.
For most Afghans, skiing is still a very alien concept though and there is a severe lack of gear and equipment for all new ski enthusiasts in the Bamiyan area. Many villagers make their own poles and skis out of wood with metal sheeting shaped and nailed to the skis. It takes them about two days to finish one pair of "self-made" skis, and most young villagers feel extremely excited about this new sport in their area.
The Bamiyan ski club and the Aga Khan Foundation are determined to attract more people and spectators to the sport and enable more and more locals to enroll in this new unlikely activity. To promote skiing and tourism in the region, the Bamiyan Ski Club organizes the Afghan Ski Challenge every year in March. The event gathers skiing enthusiasts from Afghanistan and Switzerland and some selected skiers are currently in Europe to train for the next Winter Olympic Games.