The Arslanbob Experience – Ski Kyrgyzstan
When Sean tells stories from our trip to Kyrgyzstan, there’s one piece of his account that always makes me smile. He recounts how that trip marked his first time ever riding a horse—let alone riding a horse to access backcountry terrain. I found these photos the other day from our time in Arslanbob, which show us—on horseback—amidst a massive line of children and adults from the village that walk daily to their own backcountry “ski hill” to hike for lines and work on their ski skills. We had gone to this community with the intent to give them backcountry gear from Osprey, Goal Zero, Adventure Medical Kits and more. A friend, Nayla, had brought snowboards to Arslanbob a while back, and we brought bindings (along with a few more boards and some boots) so the kids could complete the setups. It was meant to be an emotional visit so we could GIVE, but I honestly feel like we gained so much more than we gave to this community by soaking up their positive energy.
Hayat — our friend — and his local villagers insisted we ride the horses while they hike, and I remember looking at the faces of these kids—so stoked to get on skis or a snowboard, and less concerned about the fact that their shoes weren’t snow boots or their winter coat wasn’t waterproof enough. I remember having a huge grin that morning as the sheer joy of being alongside this crew was contagious. After skiing with the kids for a bit, Hayat and his team prepared a snow table for lunchtime as the kids unpacked their bread and lunch sacks and thermoses filled with hot tea. It was like being at a family-style lunch—everyone offered up food to everyone else, and the conversation chatter was constant, as the thought of more skiing was ever-present in the kids’ minds.