Women Go Skiing in Afghanistan

ONE MORNING IN FINLAND, Sima Haidary was searching for music in her mother tongue, Hazaraki. In one video, she saw pictures of snowboarders on the bare mountains of Afghanistan, a country she fled as a five year old at the height of the Afghan Civil War. Mesmerized, she found the website of the Afghan Ski Challenge. This was all it took: Haidary bought a snowboard, made a plan with her husband and baby son, and booked a plane ticket home for the first time in nearly two decades.

The third annual Afghan Ski Challenge pitted thirty competitors, an even split between Afghans and foreigners, against the treeless massif of central Afghanistan. Donkeys delivered skis to the foot of the grueling 2.5 kilometer course in the mountain village of Shaidan, perched more than 3,000 meters above sea level.

All powder, no nonsense.

(Made for the Al Jazeera English Magazine -- download the new issue and read the full article here.)