Skiing in the Shadow of Genghis Khan

Altai Mountains Skiers

In March of 2005, I travelled to the Altai Mountains in Central Asia with Nils Larsen and Naheed Henderson. Located in the northern most reaches of China, bordering Russia, Mongolia and Kazahkstan, the Altai are home to a network of semi-nomadic people.

The people of the Altai are a mix of Central Asian cultures and live a simple life based in the mountains. They also ski. Skis are a tool for the people of the Altai, a tool that, as far as we could determine, has been part of their life for many centuries. In fact, evidence points to Central Asia as the birthplace of skiing, potentially as long as 8,000 years ago .

We stayed, travelled, and skied with the folks of the Altai for over a month while Nils filmed and recorded our stay. Since 2005, Nils has returned to the region several times in search of more information and and more skiing experiences with the people of the Altai. Nils recently finished a film documenting his trips and the ski culture of the Altai. The film takes you into the incredible mountain culture of the Altai and documents skis and skiing that may be one the last remaining links to the birth of skis thousands of years ago. The film is available from Nils at