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Afghanistan – the new skiing destination?
In a classroom in Afghanistan just a few hundred metres from the towering niche that once housed a giant Buddha statue, someone has pinned up a poster detailing the attributes of a good ski guide: optimistic, articulate, patient, reliable, active, cheerful, punctual and extroverted.
Sitting around a table in the middle of the room, the 10 young men who hope to become Afghanistan's first ski guides are being taught how to avoid avalanches, and the importance of taking enough food and water on trips up the snow-capped mountains that loom over the town of Bamiyan..
They have all the poster's key attributes in spades. Indeed, it's hard to think of a more agreeable bunch of enthusiastic young men, who chatter in excellent English. The only problem is the one characteristic they all lack: the ability to ski!
These are the deeply humble beginnings out of which Bamiyan, an impoverished but heart-stoppingly beautiful province, hopes to develop a robust ski industry. There is serious weight behind the plan to encourage winter ‘ecotourism’ here, as well as the new phenomenon of ‘outback skiing’.
Paying just $30 a night for a hotel room, you can ski for seven days in Bamiyan. Despite some hairy moments involving avalanches, experts reckon Bamiyan is the place for anyone who wants ‘some pretty challenging skiing’.