Rome Snowboards Presents : Find Snowboarding : KAZAKHSTAN
This year Rome Snowboards set out to explore snowboarding in places you would not expect. For their first trip they traveled to Kazakhstan. Little was known about the former Soviet country in central Asia, officially called the Republic Of Kazakhstan, but apparently they have mountains and get snow. Rome riders LNP, Ozzy Henning and Ian Boll where up for the adventure, see what happened in the first full edit of ‘Find Snowboarding’.
Full story and photos in the Fall issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
We caught up with Darcy Bacha the photographer on the trip, to share a couple more stories. Interview by Ben Birk
How long was the flight from the US?
Depending on layovers between 26 and 30 hours!
Where did you stay?
We got to stay in this insane skyscraper, we got a whole flat [large apartment] for a 100 dollars a night. Basically it fit everyone comfortably and put us in a perfect location to get after it every day.
How did you find spots?
The stars truly aligned for us. I arrived about a week after everyone else because I was struggling getting a travel visa, but when the guys first landed in Almaty they just happened to meet the right people. They scored a van that fit everyone and everything perfect from someone that desperately needed some cash, from there it was just a matter of getting on the road and searching. We had no guide so it was up to us to find spots. Grady Skelton (Team Manager) pretty much crushed it with driving. It was seriously one of the gnarliest places you could drive, no joke we saw an average on two accidents every time we went out. I think one time we drove around for an hour and saw four crashes.
Did you deal with the police or military and how was the experience?
We had to bribe the police about three times while we were there. Each scenario was different, and none of them involved snowboarding. The worst part was not being able to communicate with them, we’d have to call up one of our homeys and they would translate and negotiate for us, and we’d usually slip them 40 dollars and be out.
What was the most fucked up thing you saw?
We were just getting done with a session and a guy and girl pull up and the dude honks at us ’cause we’re taking up his little parking spot. As soon as we get out of the way he pulls into the spot and the girl instantly starts going down on him. That’s just one of many crazy things.
How much were the beers?
Like a dollar a beer, I think. It was weird because you had to buy per beer bottle. They don’t have packs of beer like we do in the States.
How was the weed?
The weed was shit. They sold us this gnarly shake that they would stuff into a match box and sell you for 40 dollars—easily the most expensive thing there.
Go to any strip clubs?
Afraid not. Spent our time at the Irish pub when we went out.
Who got laid?
Only one of us! I’ll leave it up to your imagination to who it was.
Anyone try to rob you?
Who got the most drunk?
I think everyone took turns every night for most drunk. I’d call it a community tie.
Who took the least showers?
Did you have any trouble with immigration or customs?
Luckily no. I was so nervous though. Travisa messed up my travel visa by misspelling my name as Darcy Bucha. My last name is Bacha and by the time I found out they misspelled it I had 24 hours before my flight took off. Getting on a 30 hour flight without knowing if customs is gonna let you into the country because of a mistake on your visa is really stressful.
Did you go to the resort?
We got to go to this awesome resort called Shymbulak. It must have been a two-mile gondola ride before we even got to the resort. To everyone’s surprise it had a terrain park! And the resort itself had pretty epic terrain. The mountains around there are insane.
How much were lift tickets?
Did you meet other snowboarders?
Yeah, we met a couple of guys that loved to snowboard. Everyone we met was so helpful also, especially with none of us knowing Russian. It was cool to have a couple local boarders to help get us to the resort and back.
What kind of snowboards did the locals ride?
I saw everything from Burton to Nidecker.
What were the mountains like?
Best way to describe it is it’s a lot like Salt lake city. Almaty, the city we were in, itself is relatively flat but has massive mountains around it. The mountains are way bigger then the mountains surrounding Salt Lake though.
What was up with all the bums?
Just like every city on the planet Almaty has its problems. Downtown Almaty was no worse then LA as far as Bums, but once you started getting outside the city limits you really start seeing some poverty.
What was your favorite shot of the trip?
Ian Boll’s ollie to bank was a pretty all time shot for me. Every spot was sick though and shot real well. Lots of savage 50-50s and ollies went down.
What was the hardest spot to shoot?
They all were so fun to shoot. Probably the most stressful spot was the massive down-rail that Ozzy boardslid. We had only a half hour to hit it because these guys kicked us out. We had to pay them 40 dollars for that half hour! Luckily Ozzy got it.