What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

• What happens to the ski resorts in Iran

According to popular belief, the Middle East - it is completely hot desert, there can be snow-capped peaks. But in reality they are, and skiing - a popular pastime in Lebanon, Turkey, Israel and Iran.

Photographer Milan Gaia Skuarchi that from childhood to ski in the Alps, went to the ski resorts just north of the Iranian capital, together with the writer Laurence Cornet, who introduced her to this place. On the slopes, hotels, restaurants, and the surrounding areas the photographer discovered a whole world that lifts the veil on Iranian society. "Skiing became a way for us a little closer to understanding some of its processes," - she writes. This results in a photo project called Ski in Iran ( "Skiing in Iran"), which introduces the viewer with this slice of Iranian life.

What happens at the ski resorts in Iran What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

Scattered on the slope skiers and dog at a ski resort in the mountains of Alborz Tochal December 14, 2014.

"When I was younger, I skied in the Alps, where the valley less deep than in Iran, and is densely dotted with resorts. Alpine skiing in Iran - is not new, it appeared even under the Shah. After the overthrow of the Shah in the revolution there were many radical changes, and although skiing is not totally destroyed, its development has slowed down, and it is still perceived as a Western trend. When you're high up in one of these places is rare to find any buildings or buildings other than those in which you are in the moment and gaze wanders freely on the slopes, not clinging to nothing. Design facilities are often imported from Europe, where they have been written off, so they look rather old-fashioned. It seemed to me that I went back twenty years. Grasp the regime in these places there is a little less than in the city, but there are different types of police in uniform and in civilian clothes, who roam around. The rules are not very different from those adopted in the West, but there are additional restrictions for women. "

What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

Customers and resort employee in the restaurant of one of the chalets in Tochale, Alborz Mountains, December 29, 2014.

"Ski jacket for women should be longer, they cover the feet up to about mid-thigh and the head should be covered, although the caps are much more common than the scarves, and have a little more freedom with regard to the individual strands of hair escaping to the outside."

What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

Stray dogs fighting on the slopes before the summit Darbandsara Damavand, the highest volcano in Asia, which is a matter of national pride, and plays an important role in Zoroastrian mythology. Alborz mountains north of Tehran, January 3, 2015.

"Lawrence quickly noticed that the ski pass is a reminder that customers must adhere to Sharia principles. One major difference from my usual experience with ski resorts, is that evening in public places ended early, and it was very quiet. In the bars and restaurants do not serve alcohol, and Iran is forbidden to dance in public, so that, as in many other areas in the country, life abounds behind closed doors. "

What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

The remains of afternoon tea at the intermediate stop of the 45-minute gondola lift in Tochale, Alborz Mountains, December 29, 2014.

"We met with Iranian expatriates, who work or study abroad and come back for the holidays, local youth, conservative family, who came to the mountains to walk or take a break from the chaos in Tehran, and several tourists from Europe. For example, one girl, with whom we talked, she studied to be an economist in Los Angeles, two brothers from Northern Europe were there because of love for winter sports, and several other foreigners combined winter leisure visiting Iranian friends. Lawrence also talked with a group of Swiss skiers and snowboarders, who founded an organization called "We ride in Iran," to teach the local freestyle ".

What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

A skier in the hotel lobby in Tochale, Alborz mountains north of Tehran, December 29, 2014.

"On the slopes coexists whole set of different ways of life, and when you spend time there, that's for sure destroys any notion of a monolithic Iranian society. Nevertheless, we do not forget that ski community in Iran, as in any other place in the world, automatically excludes the part of the local population due to the costs associated with the sport itself. Prices for rental and ski pass are lower than in Europe, but they are still quite expensive for the Iranians. "

What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

A child plays on the pool table in the basement of the hotel in Dizin. Alborz Mountains, December 31, 2014.

"There are several resorts in other parts of the country. We focused our attention on those that are close to Tehran. For me it was amazing to discover the contrast between the beautiful natural landscapes and bustle, pollution and insanely organized movement in there. "

What happens at the ski resorts in Iran

A man shows the slopes of the mother, in which he will ride in Tochale, Alborz Mountains, 6 January 2015.

"All the resorts are no more than two hours drive from Tehran, and the next - it Tochal. There you can get on the open cable car that travels 45 minutes and departs from the recreation area in the northern part of the city. Tochal - a small resort compared to others, but it is so high that visitors sometimes become ill from the altitude. Among the places we visited - Dizin, which is a meeting place for a young company snowboarders and freestylers, and Darbandsar, where you can see the mountain Damavand, the highest volcano in Asia. " Skiers ascend back to the top of the slope in the open Tochale lift. Alborz Mountains, December 29, 2014.

"We would love to have gone to Shemshak, another popular place near Darbandsara where you can see emus from the nearby ostrich farm on the slopes, but we could not get there at the right time, because the road was covered with snow."