We are so excited to tell you all about the Bamyan Winter Sports Festival! With the support of the CTC Foundation (thank you!!!), Ascend co-hosted a week-long festival in beautiful Band-e Amir Lakes in Bamyan province last month. If you haven't heard about Bamyan, it is a spectacular place with unique historical significance and endless recreational opportunities. And the local youth want to get out and play! So we partnered up with other groups working on winter sports in Afghanistan to make it happen. Ascend organized ice climbing, hiking, and of course inner tubing. Others demonstrated skiing, snowboarding, and curling. Other guests came and went but the Ascend team camped in tents at the edge of the lake. Yes, it was cold. It snowed every day and got down to 4 degrees below zero (Farenheit). But we have great gear, top notch instructors and volunteers, and a team of enthusiastic and hearty young women. So we had a blast.
In addition to having fun and bonding as a team, our objectives were to give our instructor trainees the opportunity to practice their skills, and to introduce local people to the joys of climbing (safely). We were welcomed by everyone from the provincial governor to the local grandmothers. The police watched our girls climb and then asked if they too might get a turn. We climbed well after dark, under a full moon, because nobody wanted to stop. We even brought a new team member to Kabul - her parents watched her shine when she had a turn to climb with us, and asked if we'd take her to Kabul to join Ascend and finish her schooling. Read about her in our newest blog post on the website.
For 2020, Ascend set the intention to expand programming to two of the provinces where it's safe to get out and climb. Young people everywhere we go are asking us to give them a chance to be climbers too. We've already done so in Panjshir, and Bamyan was a wonderful next step. Your support makes all this possible. As you know, Ascend isn't just about climbing. We're changing lives, building leaders, and providing inspiration to a generation. Thank you for standing with us.