Girls ride in Iran // Ski, telemark and snowboard on beautiful Persian mountains

Iran March 8-22, 2015

Who we are and what we want:  

5 Women with different personalities, origin and identity, connected by same passion - the snow addiction, gather on the 8th of March, international women's day and visit their unknown snow sister in Iran.

Ski, telemark, snowboard, freeride, climbing mountains to see what's behind them, discovering new territories and networking mountain communities, building a family that respects no borders and empower women and youth through sport.

Thanks to Burton snowboards, Burton girls and the Women in Board Sports conference in Biarritz- Sept 2014, where this project was firstly presented, in March this year we have successfully placed the foundation of the project "Girls ride in Iran".

Our idea was based on the already existing project #We ride in Iran created by Swiss skiers: Arnaud Cottet and Benoid Goncerut. Their association "Cause" is devoted to support positive causes in life. Developing the awareness of mountain culture in Iran is one example of their vision. The radio project -Timelapse, March 2013, followed their skiing tracks from Geneva to Iran, passing through Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and other countries in eastern Europe and middle east.  The lively snow community they discovered in the Iranian mountains resulted with establishment of the following project We ride in Iran.


Our team:

Vanessa Beucher, a French photo journalist passionate about action photography. The love of mountains and snow activities dislocated her from her native Toulouse to the wild La Grave where she enjoys discovering the heart of the Alps.

Estelle Lecomte, Swiss ex FWQ competitor. Super energetic young lady keen for all board sports. Nature and animal lover while being  responsibly dedicated to her profession - environmental and river engineer.
Oksana Chekulaeva, professional mountain guide and snowboarding athlete from Russia. This restless young lady is as well very creative and sharp behind the camera.

Mona Seraji, Iranian snowboarding instructor. Burton rider and competitor. Her lovely smile could make the clouds go away.

Marion Poizeau (Fr.), even though she was with us just for a short while, she has left her vibes with us all throughout the journey.  After few days riding with us Marion went to the south of Iran in  Balucistan region where she has established a surfing project. Thanks to this modest girl initiative Iranians started surfing.

And me, Ilina Arsova, Macedonian mountaineer, telemark and alpine freerider. Visual artist and adventurer combining  skiing, climbing and art.

From the diary:

Iran is a super rich and hospitable country which we rarely hear about from the aspect of sports, tourism and natural beauty.
The mountains are incredible. A strange landscape of dry desert-like colors contrasted by 4000m high snowy peaks rising just above the capital city of Tehran.
Being so lucky with the weather we actually had fresh snowfall of 20cm almost every new day.  It's such a precious feeling of creating a new line in the snow, many enough for each one of us. A whole white mountain untouched, was
waiting  for our turns.

Perfect weather, snow and company resulted with our everyday's elegant snake shaped signatures in the snow. 

The snow here has no base, and there is no cohesion to attach to the dry sandy steep slopes. There is almost no rain and both the weather and the snow are dry. The traces of avalanche has shown that the snow is sliding from the soil. There is no lower base. That's why the steep faces can be avalanche dangerous.

13th of March, National freestyle competition. surprised by well prepared and brave athletes which we don't have in such a number in Macedonia. The women participants were more than I expected, an excellent role model picture for the following generations of female athletes. 

This time I will not go thoroughly through my diary just will mention that we have visited and skied on few different mountains from the Alborz ridge: Dizin, Tochal, Shem Shak...crossed the Alborz tunnel all the way to the Caspian sea. 2000m altitude difference in a day, in only few hours by car.

Riding beautiful long lines with more than 1500m altitude difference which are easy accessible with small walks from the top of the chairlifts.
The last day in Dizin was another different itinerary. Walking up to the top of the mountain at around 4000m and making a small traverse to a wide ridge covered with fresh 30cm powder. Each one is choosing a line for herself. Precious drawings in the snow behind us. I am happy to ride telemark all the time. Feel like I am improving it, enjoying the movements, yet my legs are burning at the end of every skiing day.

My greatest challenge for this trip was to climb and ski down from the top of Damavand. But bad weather was arriving and the conditions were harsh even for trying it . I will definitely have to come back. 

Sometimes it feels like a reality show. Being together with 5 women that just got to know each other, everyone with different  energy and  ideas. It was probably first such experience for most of us. We have all been part of mail company too many times.  But this is different, women need more words to understand each other, but on the other hand they understand things that man can't.
Training with same sex partners gives different energy and competitiveness which I could highly recommend.  Not that guys are not good,  I love hanging out and I feel I learn a lot when they are stronger than me, but the pure female team requires another kind of teamwork which is also good to experience. I really love the fact that we have solid understanding and tolerance among each other.

Only 15 years ago in Iran the slopes were separated for male and female riders. Actually the ladies' ski school had one, while most of the mountain was for men use only.  We are happy to witness that today's women are more and more involved into active life of the society, free from prejudices and norms dictated by the society. 
We have experienced some new snow and great lines while discovering  a new country through the mountain landscape and snow sports culture in Iran.

Thanks to the power of connections of adventurous and ambitious women from around the world sharing same passions and ideas, this project was completed in March 2015.

Few things to wrap up that amazed me the most:

Untouched virgin nature, with such a picturesque scenery, starting from 0m in the area of Caspean sea, climbing up to the snowy peaks of Alborz mountain reach. The symbol of Iran, Damavand - a semi active volcano rising up as a monument with its 5610m. Huge contrast of landscapes between the dry desert, white peaks and greenish fields in the Caspean, connected through overpopulated Tehran and incredibly settled mountainous villages.

I loved the way of sharing things between friends. Sharing your food, drink, cigarette but also experience. Sharing good vibes, happiness and sadness. Sharing the moment and being together.  


Friendly, respectful and pleasant people made us feel like home. We were happy to become part of  one big  snow family where the Western thinking of "no friends on powder day" is replaced with "More friends on powder day" :)
A huge thanks to our patron and a great friend Amir, who took really nice care of all of us and showed the country in a nicest light.
I enjoyed skiing with the only telemark skier in Iran - Sina, a great guide with always positive vibes. 
Its a long list of people who I am really grateful for making our stay so comfortable and easy going. 
Thank you guys and miss you already.
Gallery: (More pics you can find on fb: Ilina Arsova, photo album Girls ride in Iran)