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Photo Gallery: Skiing in Mongolia

Mongolians have been skiing from A to B for thousands of years. Now, thanks to a booming economy, skiing is becoming a winter sport...of sorts. And when we say “winter,” we mean it: You’ll freeze your bong-bongs off.

Writer Evelyn Spence and photographer Ilya Herb traveled to the far reaches of Mongolia to witness the evolution of skiing from a mode of transportation to a nascent winter hobby. Here are some of the images Herb captured during the journey.

The Whole Story: Skiing and Reindeer-Spotting in the Coldest and Most Remote Resort in the World

 

Skiing in Mongolia

A local skier at Mongolia's Sky Resort
Photo: Ilja Herb

Sky Resort opened in 2009 was the first step toward what Western Hemispherical elitists call real skiing.

Riding the magic carpet at Sky Resort, Mongolia
Photo: Ilja Herb

Mongolian’s divide winter into nine sets of nine days, or The Nines. Writer Evelyn Spence and photographer Ilja Herb were there during the coldest.

Ganbat and Uvedorj of the Tsaatan people. Thirty percent of Mongolia’s population is nomadic.
Photo: Ilja Herb

Ganbat and Uvedorj of the Tsaatan people. Thirty percent of Mongolia’s population is nomadic. Editor’s note: This photograph by Ilja Herb won a 2013 American Photography Award.

Town of Khatgal in northern Mongolia.
Photo: Ilja Herb

The tiny outpost of Khatgal, in northern Mongolia, has a school, an airstrip, and a post office.

A child in Tsagaanuur in western Mongolia.
Photo: Ilja Herb

Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, with 5 inhabitants per square mile.

Mongolia's Sky Resort rental shop.
Photo: Ilja Herb

Rentals are available onsite at Sky Resort, and the slopes stay open for nightskiing.

Gearing up at Mongolia's Sky Resort
Photo: Ilja Herb

Lift tickets cost around $23 for six hours.

A chairlift at Sky Resort
Photo: Ilja Herb

Sky Resort is the only ski resort in Mongolia.

Craig Dillon, a transplant from Alta, Utah, braves the minus-50-degree temps in Mongolia.
Photo: Ilja Herb

Craig Dillon, a transplant from Alta, Utah, braves the minus-50-degree temps.

The resort blows a five-and-a-half-inch base in the fall that’s supposed to stick around until March. It does. Alta transplant Craig Dillon and…
Photo: Ilja Herb

The resort blows a five-and-a-half-inch base in the fall that’s supposed to stick around until March. It does. Alta transplant Craig Dillon and Jagaa, a patroller, rip it up.

Photographs by Ilja Herb
Photo: Ilja Herb

The monastery of Amarbayasgalant Khiid, one of the three largest buddhist monasteries in Mongolia.

The monastery is within a day's drive of Sky Resort. Photograph by Ilja Herb
Photo: Ilja Herb

The monastery is within a day’s drive of Sky Resort.

The sun sets on Sky Resort, and the locals get ready for night skiing. Photograph by Ilja Herb
Photo: Ilja Herb

The sun sets on Sky Resort, and the locals get ready for night skiing.

Tea and thawing meat, dripping blood on the floor, in Ganbat’s hut.
Photo: Ilja Herb

Tea and thawing meat, dripping blood on the floor, in Ganbat’s hut.

Photograph by Ilja Herb
Photo: Ilja Herb

Ulaanbaatar’s Choijin temple.