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Off Piste in Afghanistan
Bamian is situated at a six hour drive North of Kabul. Historically it has benefited from its location on a trade route and, subsequently, its resultant cultural tourism.
It is a long time since silk, spices and Buddhism crossed through Bamian and the last 30 years of turmoil in Afghanistan has all but destroyed tourism in the area.
However, in 2008, the Aga Khan Foundation launched a project to encourage ski tourism in Bamian. Since then several groups of Western tourists have travelled to the area to experience skiing in virtually untouched mountains.
While there is a recent history of skiing in areas close to Kabul, this does not exist in the more rural and mountainous areas such as Bamian. Having seen Western skiers enjoying the snow, the local youth have fashioned their own skies from wood and metal.
While the Aga Khan Foundation actively supports the training of local guides and local skiers in general, these young Afghanis don’t want to wait for equipment and instruction to be provided for them.
James Robertson is a photographer working in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Having won the Guardian Student Photographer of the Year 2008, whilst studying physics at university, he now divides his time between working as a photographer for Bonhams Auctioneers Edinburgh and producing his own documentary and sports photography work.