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March 22, 2000     Hells Canyon Journal
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March 22, 2000
 

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Page 11 Hells Canyon Journ'al March 22, 2000 Continued from page 10 Dezin resort is located in the Alborz Mountains in Northern Iran, between Tehran and the Caspian Sea. The Shah built it in the late 1950s, allegedly because his wife loved to ski. It is entirely above tree line. The surround- ing mountains go as high as 18,605 feet (Mt. Damavand), with V-shaped valleys like we've never seen before. With three gondolas, and the lifts topping out at over 11,000 feet, it is more-than-worth the $4 lift ticket price. Although this is a low snow year, we are blessed with blue skies and powder. "InchAllah" (God Willing), it's going to be a successful snowboarding mis- sion! We are all armed with split- boards - snowboards that come apart for uphill ski tour- ing. These tools allow us to go beyond the chairlifts and do our own thing in the moun- tains. Unfortunately, the snow pack and terrain make for high avalanche danger at the moment. We will have to pick and choose what is safe to ride. The lift lines are full of wealthy Tehranians - the men's line, that is. The women have their own lift line. We climb a small peak, and lo- cate a perfect slope with light, dry powder and no one around (our "filming" permits haven't made it from the press office yet). Big smiles indicate that we are all happy to be here, in Iran, on a powder day. The next day, while split- boarding north of the ski re- sort, Tom and Buffrun across an old structure that they fig- ure must have been the Shah's ski chalet back in the 1970s. Four guard towers and old, half-buried barbed wire fences surround the run- down complex. They decide to ski across ? signals that they are going down, and a shot is fired, which they translate to mean "go down quickly." A second shot really puts a bounce in their step. As if the moun- tains weren't dangerous enough! Later, our friend Ali translates a sign on the fence: "Don't ever, ever go in here." "My life more civil is and free, than any civil polity " -THOREAU People of Iran Despite the ever-present anti-American rhetoric, the Iranian people we met were warm and friendly - save for the two incidents detailed above (which were probably our own fault). I introduced myself as a Californian, and got a better reception in Iran than I would normally get in Oregon. People usually won- dered how we got the visas, and why we would choose to visit Iran. American cultural icons are everywhere, from Coke to Nike, and it is clear that the people here enjoy aspects of American culture, while remaining committed to hav- ing control of their own cul- ture and country. English is the second language here, and many young people can speak it well. Khatami, the widely popular new president, is a moderate, and a huge turn- out in the Parliamentary elec- tion just put more progres- sive representatives (men and women) into office. The tide is turning in Iran, and this trend is particularly apparent on the ski hill. The women once had their own side of the mountain; now they just have separate lift lines. There are groups of boys and girls in beanie-caps, riding snowboards, laughing Photo by Bill Gallen THE RULES are different for women in Iran. hate someone just becausetween the genders, especially he's an American? We both with non-Islamic tourists, is have eyes, a mouth. Govern- not allowed. ments may not get along, but Behind closed doors, how- people are people, every- ever, people do let their veils where." down and relax. The women It is very hard for a we met were bright and westerner to imagine or un- strong, and, without excep- derstand the attitude towards tion, very frustrated by the women in Islamic culture, repressive limitations ira- Dress codes, limited employ- posed on them Boys are frus- ment lethal codes of con- trated, too. If a young person duct are a reality for women wants to get to know some- here. Public interaction be- one of the opposite sex - it's TOM BURT testing the snow conditions. time to get married, whether or not love is in the picture. A girl can be legally married at age 9 in Iran, although that rarely happens. With half of Iran's popula- tion under the age of 18, the pressure for change is in- creasing. Everyone realizes this, and the consensus is that peaceful change needs to hap- pen slowly. While we were there, Tehran University held a mass wedding, 1,000 teen- age couples! The maternity wards had better mark their calendars. Our mission to Iran was an apolitical one-we came to snowboard, so let's get back to the mountains. It snowed heavily, then cleared, and we had perfect conditions for the rest of the trip. We squeezed in as much riding as we abso- lutely could, and on the last day, the last run, Eric kicked off a fairly sizeable slab ava- lanche, nearly taking him for a big ride. Just then the "call to prayer" came on over the loudspeakers at the resort, and we knew it was time to head for home. Photo by 6ill Gallen the area and down to the ski and having a great time. Sun- resortparkinglot. Then, sev- shine and powder snow ] eral guys with guns come out quickly break down most cul-] i i of the building, yelling in rural barriers, and we feel - Farsi and pointing in their right at home. As one young direction. Stay or go? Buff man put it, "Why should I [ Saturday, March 25 9 a.m. - 12 noon ] Please bring clean Pine Valley Recycling Center I " Corrugated cardboard East Record Street I " Plastic milk jugs [ Junkmail / magazines [ [. Aluminum I Illl "'" [ [ I " Newsprint I I;ll , :): ' Z I Office Paper I llll " J' " : I"G'ass iiiii : I " Tin cans This space furnished by the Hells Canyon Journal, , , I Ii I i /( .