Here’s Neil Silverwood’s latest report from Afghanistan
I was laying on my side in agony cursing my first world immune system. The pain came in surges and the toilet, just 5 metres away seemed like a very long way away. I cursed the food or water that gave me food poisoning. Every desire to eat and drink had gone. The only food I desired right now was the Absolute Wilderness meals we had brought to Afghanistan from New Zealand. They were a god send.
The trip had begun 2 weeks before. Heidi Godfrey and I flew into Kabul, Afghanistan’s besieged Capital. From here we’d driven along a dangerous mountain road and crossed into Afghanistan’s safest province – Bamiyan. Heidi was employed as a ski guide and taught young Afghanies how to ski. 15 young men and 10 woman are selected each year from a pool of over 100 applicants. Each is given a pair of skis, poles and skins and learns to ski on the powder infested slopes above Bamyan town. This is the most accessible ski touring area in Afghanistan and with glaciated mountains up to 4500 it has potential to become a world mecca for ski touring. However the security situation in Kabul and the rest of the country is stifling the areas chance of becoming a popular destination.
In my month in Bamyan I explored much of the area around Bamyan. It’s a stunning place with a rich history. Ancient Castles and fortresses sit on top of the surrounding hills. These are testament to the areas rich and bloody history. I checked out caves and photographed people going about life in a city that had changed little in hundreds of years. Heidi worked on the ski programme and prepared the young skiers for the Afghan Annual ski race. Just before leaving I competed in the event. I came in 13th out of some 40 competitors. The competition was stiff and the race course was tough. Competitors ski tour up steep terrain to a small summit before skiing deep powder and then over a jump just before the finish line. The following day I photographed the woman’s ski race. It is a huge step for woman to be allowed to ski in Afghanistan and it was amazing to watch the amount of energy every woman put into the competition, it would have been a massive commitment for each just to be able to enter.
Looking back at the trip there were a lot of ups and downs (like the aforementioned food poising incident.). But the acid test is would I go back? Yes I would I’d go back to Afghanistan in a second. How could you turn down an opportunity like that and I’ll be bringing my Absolute Wilderness Meals along too.