Ski Iraq 2019

Join us in 2019 for the 2nd Iraq Ski Rally

Ski Iraq 2019

Dates: 27th January – 4th February 2019

The trip will visit the region near Choman and Mt Halgurd. Areas we have identified from previous winter trips to the region as good for ski touring. This is the best region for ski touring in Iraq with a variety of terrain and plenty of snow. Choman is a 3-4 hour drive from the capital of Iraqi-Kurdistan, Erbil. In addition to the ski touring, we are timing the trip to coincide with the Iraq Ski Rally.  Finally, we may or may not stop off at the Korek Mountain ski resort. Yes, there is a real ski resort with a gondola and everything. The only problem is that it has been built in an area with very unreliable snow. If in 2019 there is a heavy snowfall then we’ll have a day skiing here as well. Check out this link for photos of the trips we have done before in the region (see link).

Iraq has some major problems at the moment but in the far north of the country security is good and it is possible to experience some of the famous Kurdish hospitality amongst the peaks. The chance to truly blaze a tourist trail is a rare opportunity. If you have are interested, you can read an article in the Guardian and New Zealand Herald which covers the work we’ve been doing in the area.

In January 2018, Untamed Borders guided a small group of skiers from USA, Denmark, Slovenia, UK and Australia to Iraq, to ski in the Zagros mountains near Choman and to compete at the Iraq Ski Rally, which is part of the Choman winter festival.

A selection of photos from the trip can be found here.

The race was also reported on local news, the following footage can give you an idea of what we got up to:

  • ABC Australia Radio piece.
  • Rudaw’s report on the ski trip as a whole. See link
  • Kurdistan 24’s report on the race. See link.

One of the skiers, Ashley Hartz, had travelled with us before to ski in Iraq and Afghanistan. Along with a local man named Omar Chomani she organised the first Choman winter festival which included the Iraq Ski Rally – Iraq’s first ever ski touring race.

For a country more associated with deserts, Iraq has some great mountainous terrain in the northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region which we will explore with a qualified international ski guide. Photos from the 2017 trip can be found here and photos from our day trip to the Penjwen ski club can be seen here.

In 2017 we also assisted an American team and film crew in making the first ski ascent and descent of Halgurd, check out this short film they produced for The North Face and some of our photos from that trip here.

On the more cultural side of things, have a look at one of our guest’s blogs which we guided for a visit around Iraqi Kurdistan.

For more information, or to book, please get in touch:

Join our team!

Ever thought about making adventure travel a full-time job? Do you have skills in sales and marketing?

We are currently looking for a full-time member of staff to join our small team. If you or someone you know is passionate about finding your own amazing travel experiences and will work hard to give others the same kind of buzz you get when you travel, then send us an email and we will reply with further information.

The closing date is end of September 2018.

A trip to Damascus

A trip to Damascus

Untamed Borders founder James Willcox got an invite to visit Damascus in February this year. An offer he could not turn down. You can see some of his photos from Syria and Lebanon here.

K2 Concordia helicopter trip

K2 and Concordia…by helicpoter

The trek to K2 base camp and Concordia is a 14 day round trip from Skardu. One of the world’s great treks. However, not everyone likes to walk so we arranged a helicopter trip for two guests earlier this year. You can view the album of photos here.


Marathon of Afghanistan 2017

Last month we took a group of 15 runners to compete in the third edition of the Marathon of Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s only mixed gender sporting event. Here are a few snaps to give you an impression of their experience.

There are some great shots of the start of the race in this report by NBC.

The Marathon organisers are currently trying to raise additional funds to expand a mixed-gender marathon training group that they support. If you are keen to help out then click here for more details.

Marathon of Afghanistan 2017


winter olympians

Olympic Fairytale: Afghanistan’s first Winter Olympians

Wonderful article by Paula Froelich, who joined us for the Afghan Ski Challenge in 2014, regarding the “Olympic fairytale” for Team Afghanistan’s hopes to reach the Winter Games in South Korea 2018.

If you wish to help forge a piece of Olympic history, you can donate here:…

First Afghan Winter Olympians
To find out how you can join us on the slopes of Afghanistan, see more here.
The Steppe of Misfortune - Photo by Jamie Maddison

The first on-foot crossing of the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert

In September this year, Untamed Border’s team member, Matt Traver, along with British-American photographer, Mark Woodward, headed out to Kazakhstan to document Jamie Maddison’s attempt to complete the first on-foot crossing of the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert. Jamie ran across the lower reaches of this sandy expanse – from the Ili to the Karatal Rivers – in under 30 hours. Across that time Jamie had to contend with 36ºC heat and soft sand dunes underfoot. You can read more about Jamie’s incredible expeditions at and check out Mark’s other work in the desert regions of New Mexico at A short film will be released early next year by Matt and Mark.


Help the first ever Afghan Winter Olympians

For the last five years, we have been working together with the Afghan Ski Challenge, enabling skiers to compete in Afghanistan’s first ski touring race.
What started as a spontaneous idea by its founder Christophe Zuercher has since grown into a veritable development project.
The race is operated by the Bamyan Ski Club, a non-profit association based in Zürich, this spring the Ski Challenge was held for the seventh time. Over the years, dozens of boys and girls have learned to ski with the Bamyan Ski Club ski school every February before the race. For two skiers, Ali Shah and Sajjad, the skiing developed into much more than just a fun new hobby.
Today, the Bamyan Ski Club is asking for support to be able to help Ali Shah and Sajjad represent Afghanistan at the Winter Olympics in February 2018 in South Korea where they will become the first ever Afghan Winter Olympians.
The sponsorship of the ski manufacturer Völkl, the commitment of the resort of St. Moritz and private donors have enabled Ali Shah and Sajjad to train in the Swiss mountains for the last three winters. The progress they have made is remarkable. In the qualifying races for the World Championships in St. Moritz last February, they reached the finish in both runs.
However, Ali Shah and Sajjad still need further points at qualifying races throughout Europe this winter.
The costs involved for travelling, support and material are however considerable, so far these costs aren’t covered.

Please do consider participating in the Bamyan Ski Club crowdfunding campaign and by spreading the word. From Thursday, 19 October, this link will take you directly to the campaign.  There are some great rewards for larger donations.

Martin Parnell - TED Talk - Life is a Relay

TED Talk by Untamed Borders guest, Martin Parnell

In 2016 Martin Parnell joined us for the 2nd ever Marathon of Afghanistan, inspired by a newspaper article he spotted in 2015 about the marathon and the first ever female Afghan to run it.  Martin had been hospitalised in early 2015 with a massive blood clot on his brain.  He became determined to participate in the marathon the following year and help support the women participating in the 2016 Marathon of Afghanistan.

On arrival at the Marathon, Martin became aware of a female runner being supported by an NGO, ‘Free to Run’, who work with women and girls in communities affected by war.

Martin has run over 330 marathons, 250 of which were in the space of one year.  Something for which he holds a Guinness World Record.  In fact, he has set 5 world records.

We are proud to be a part of Martin’s journey, his TED talk is certainly worth a watch…just be prepared to be inspired!

If you are interested in joining our package to the Marathon of Afghanistan, you can view more details here.