In the north of Iraq, in the autonomous Kurdish region on the border with Turkey and Iran, are the Zagros Mountains and the Halgurd Sakran National Park. Isolated and almost untouched, this landscape offers spectacular mountains, beautiful valleys and a diverse flora and fauna. The mountain chain stretches 1,600 km and has several peaks above 3,500 metres. The high mountains ensure that snow covers the peaks most of winter.
Skiing is a new and currently little-known activity in Iraq, but interest is growing. In 2014, the Choman Backcountry Ski Club - made up of local ski enthusiasts - organized the country's first ski festival. The participants came from both the USA and Europe, in addition to 11 local Kurdish skiers. With the exception of 2015 and 2021 & 2022 due to COVID, the festival has been organized every year, with an increasingly large turnout among both girls and boys who want to experience the joy of snow and skiing.
However, access to ski equipment and expertise is a challenge, and in order to be able to introduce the sport of skiing to even more people, Choman Ski Club is dependent on outside help
Every year the Iraq Ski Rally is organised. It is a backcountry ski race in the northern Zagros mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. Designed to bring together international skiers with Kurdish ski enthusiasts, racers of all abilities and experience compete in this fun and friendly tour. Taking place near the “ski town” of Choman, the rally includes several days of skiing where few have trod before, a local winter festival with local food and dancing, and a chance to learn about this region of the world.
Borderless Skiing Joy
In 2012, Kit Monsen (The Adventure Cook), was the first in the world to ski on Halgurd Peak, Iraq's highest mountain at 3,607 metres. Several of the surrounding mountains are still unclimbed in winter and do not yet have names. On the trip, Kit gets to know Omar, the founder of the Choman Backcountry Ski Club. This meeting leads to the idea of Skiraq.
Based on experience from several trips to Iraq, the organization Skiraq was founded in 2017. The goal and motivation is to assist Choman Ski Club with ski equipment and expertise, help facilitate and promote tourism in the region, and spread boundless skiing joy across cultures.
In the winter of 2025, SKIRAQ wants to help during the ski festival in February with training in skiing skills and safe travel in the mountains. In addition, we want to explore and document the skiing opportunities Halgurd Sakran has to offer. SKIRAQ wants to collect ski equipment to be donated to Choman Ski Club during the festival.