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“Why I’m leading a snowboard mission to Iran” by Vanessa Beucher

You plan to visit the resorts of Dizin and Shemshak and also climb Mount Damavand if the conditions are right. How do you expect the backcountry to be there and do you know if there’s much of a freeride culture?

Arnaud and his friends already did a lot of freeride in Iran during their several trips and they say the possibilities are endless, there is truly great potential. There is starting to be a real freeride culture there now, more than what we would expect I think. Depending on the snow conditions, there’ll be freeride possibilities relatively close to the resorts and then we will try to go deeper into the backcountry, Mont Damavand for example.

How easy will it be to get a guide?

With the help of Arnaud and Mona, we’ll be introduced to the whole community over there, it is a small and tight group of people, more than happy when foreigners come to visit because it does not happen that often apparently, so it will be super easy to have a guide, especially as we’d be coming to do a mountain project over there, and it will be devoted as much to us visitors as to them locals. I am extremely curious to meet the people over there, to feel the pulse of mountain culture. There are guides indeed and a few of them lead clients to the top of Mont Damavand and other places in the Elburz range.

Will readers be able to follow in your footsteps or is this more an extreme out there trip that only pros could do?

I think it will be for both. First of all, we want to do a project with a lot of soul in it, we don’t just want to shoot awesome freeride action pictures, it’s great to have that, but we want to go beyond that and bring back a truly original and touching story with portraits of people, their life experiences. Also, the photo/video supports will be an opportunity for people to discover the on/off piste areas of the resorts of Shemshak and Dizin and maybe inspire them to go there by themselves some day. And if there is the possibility, we might do the ascent of a bigger mountain.

Do you have any other preconceptions of the country or worries before going?

A few years ago, I was living in California, close to Huntington Beach, finishing my studies over there. One of my best friends, Amir, was Iranian and he used to tell me a lot about his home country, the society, traditions and I discovered that a part of ‘real Iran’ goes well beyond what the media choose to oversimplify. Of course, let’s not be naïve, it is a special political regime, very tough sometimes, and you have to be careful about what you say, what project you are planning there, how you behave as a woman but overall, I’m not especially worried, as we will also be helped a lot by Iranian locals who know how everything works. I just want us to be precise in how we state the project to the authorities -that’s why we don’t want to focus on women only- so that we don’t fly back on the first plane!!

Is there anything else you’d like to say about the project?

First and foremost, I would like to underline the human dimension and the cultural diversity: I am from France, Estelle from Switzerland (above), Ilina from Macedonia (below), Oksana from Russia (below that) & Mona from Iran, so we all have a different cultural background and perspective on things. And to me that’s totally awesome! So each of us will have a different sensibility when in Iran. And also, we really want to put under the spotlight how local mountain/riding life is over there, so much to say! We don’t pretend to be revolutionary but we want to deliver a positive message about a country connoted with a lot of negativity.

Waaaayyy back in the day we interviewed the skier Eva Walkner after a trip to Iran, you can read that piece here though excuse the old format.

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