Would you go skiing in Iraq?
On the one hand, the northeastern part of the country is home to an imposing mountain range—the Zagros—with elevations reaching more than 14,000 feet. On the other, the U.S. State Department warns against all travel in the war-torn country due to the threat of violence.
Nevertheless, a U.K.-based adventure travel company called Untamed Borders recently returned from what was possibly the first ever commercial ski trip in Iraq, where six travelers skied Mount Halgurd in Iraqi Kurdistan, about 300 miles north of Baghdad. The group stayed with a local family and also attended the annual Snow Festival on Korek Mountain, which has a gondola for skiers.
Specializing in trips to uncommon destinations like Afghanistan and Somalia, Untamed Borders partners with local guides and uses GPS technology to avoid especially dangerous areas. But risks remain, including the safety concerns that come with hitting the slopes in remote wilderness.
And needless to say, the après-ski scene doesn't exactly give Vail a run for its money.
If you're still interested, Untamed Borders will soon announce details on its website for a 2018 return trip. The cost of this year's edition was $2,400, not counting airfare.