Thursday, 7 June 2012
It's been a long time between drinks for me in writing an editorial.
A variety of reasons really, but to be brutally honest I simply have not been too excited about too much in the world of snowboarding over recent years.
My last full on major personal stoke was the BTW Gulmarg, India trip back in Feb 2007 and most recently a simple trip to Japan with my best buddy of the last 36 years ...
Other than that, the Whitelines UK crew headed out to Iran and Uzbekistan which was a great read... and Sean Radich checked out Greece for Aussie Snowboarder which was pretty rad.
Other than that, there was nothing that got me very excited!
Until a few weeks back Australian Pro rider Clint Allan, posted a picture on his facebook page from Afghanistan in front of the Buddha’s of Bamiyan, they were the ancient statues that got their heads blown off by the Taliban.
I'm like WTF, I called Dan Himbrechts, legendary Aussie snow photographer and all round Mr Nice guy and asked him what the go was?
Details were sketchy, but finally my interest was piqued.
I have always believed that Snowboarding and Skiing articles needed to jump off the rack screaming and leaving me no choice but to buy the magazine to read something that was new, different and crazy. In my opinion that has been sadly lacking over recent times.
I once compared snowboarding to Star Trek,
"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. It’s five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
My approach to snowboarding first and foremost was to travel to different destinations for the most part and not the same old same old.
I always enjoyed the travel and cultural aspect during my backpacking trips; the fact that I could then ride was a bonus! It was as they say the icing on the proverbial cake.
In my time, I reckon I haven't done too badly and I didn't even start riding until I was a young 28 years old:
99/00 – Canada; Banff and Fernie (when Fernie was only just starting to become a destination of choice for Aussies) this was my first and only full season.
2001 - New Zealand - Queenstown - Remarkables and Cardrona
2002 - Argentina and legendary resort Las Lenas and little brother Los Penitentes, at a time when not a lot was known about riding in Argentina.
2003 - Chile - Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, Valle Nevado and Pucon - My first Board the World mission.
2004 - Japan - Niseko, Rusutsu and Moiwa and the glorious Japanese deep powder for my very first time.
2005 - NZ - The Club Fields and the nutcrackers at Broken River and Craigieburn, which was a ball breaking experience.
2006 – Japan- Furano, where I had a small hand in opening up Furano as an alternative to Niseko when their was only about 20 Aussies in town prior to that, the Kamuai Ski Links. I was going to fly to Lebanon except the former Prime Minister Harir was blown up in a car bomb the week before I wanted to fly and so I cancelled that one due to the uncertainty of possible civil warfare in the streets.
2006 - Chile - to ride at Volcano Lonquimay, Termas De Chilean and Argentina again at Cerro Catedral and Chapelco.
2007 - Gulmarg, Kashmir in India was groundbreaking and was the WTF moment with everyone asking 'Is there snow in India?'
2007 - Pakistan - I was then planning a mission into a resort called Malam Jabba up close to the Afghan border until I read on BBC World News that the Resort hotel got burned down by the Taliban extremists which put paid to that idea.. (Apparently it has now been rebuilt so that could be on the table again.)
2008 - New Zealand and the opening of the revolutionary Heli Park was the order of the day with Clint and Mitch Allan for a couple of days for BTW and Aussie Snowboarder Magazine. Mt Hutt and Treble Cone.
Then the 3 year break ... resuming with a standard and simple but fun trip with my best mate Kenny to celebrate turning a young 40 years old ...
2012 - Japan - Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen
2013 - TBC
To this day I have not snowboarded in the US or Europe.
Am I fazed by this?
Nope, though I do hope to get to at least to Mt Baker one day!
Ask any of my friends and I have always spoken about the desire to go riding in places like Bosnia where the Winter Olympics were held way back in 1984 and most recently a war zone in the 90's. Spain, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and also all the way down south at the very end of the World at Cerro Castor in Argentina. South Africa at the Tiffendel ski resort located in the Southern Drakensberg mountains. I could on and on, as there are so many places to ride that are off the beaten track in terms of snowboarding destinations.
These destinations are what would get my blood pumping and my face flushed with excitement. I can still recall the countless Friday night conversations with Ken on his verandah over a few beers and a smoke about these exotic countries, back in the day when I had far less responsibilities and not a care in the world…
I was always coming up with a plan, the problem was as usually the $$ and to find some willing accomplices, tough when you start talking out of the way joints.
So this brings me back to Afghanistan!
This is a World First exploration by Australian Transfer Snowboard Magazine, with Editor- Alex Cameron, Photographer - Vaughan Brookfield, Riders - Nick Gregory with Clint and Mitch Allan and last but not least - Filmmaker - Richard James.
An active War Zone and one of the most dangerous countries on Earth right now and no idea what the local population, the Taliban, the US military would make of a bunch of Aussies with snowboards wanting to go riding in the Afghan mountains.
Crazy Kangaroos …
What the lads could expect?
Possible kidnappings, Death and no real idea to what the mountains would provide – no maps, no resorts, no lifts, no sleds, no choppers. This would be an all-hiking mission amidst possible landmine dotted landscapes.
Hiking for hours, breaking new ground for those few moments of brilliance that will be remembered forever.
I can only tip my hat off to the boys and say ‘Fucking Well Done lads, that's ballsy as fuck!’
All I was thinking about after devouring Alex Cameron's words and Vaughan's pics of Clint, Mitch and Nick shredding sweet dry lines was simply that I wish I was so part of that trip experiencing the culture, the fuck me moments, the snow and the bond such a trip brings.
Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise would be proud of that effort you truly have gone 'Boldly where no Snowboarder has gone before'!
You will be able to check out the whole story on ' White Silk Road - Snowboarding Afghanistan ' Full length feature filmwww.whitesilkroad.com