Return to Kyrgyzstan: Creating a Sustainable Winter Economy

Nayla Tawa is a world traveler, snowboarder, and avid splitboarder with an ambitious spirit that guides her from one adventure to the next. In 2012 she set off for Kyrgyzstan to film a documentary centered on Hayat Tarikov and his efforts to create a sustainable ski industry in the remote mountain village of Arslanbob.

Perhaps you noticed the word ‘return’ in the title. This could imply a follow up visit, perhaps a chance to check on the progress of a project long since completed. But this is not a follow up visit – this is a return to complete a project that never began.

On her third day in Kyrgyzstan, Nayla and her group were involved in a very serious car accident. The wreck left Nayla and the Nayla Tawa post accidentother team members severely injured and in terrible shape. With inadequate medical facilities and transportation; she spent two days duct-taped to a snowboard (with no pain meds) before she and her crew were evacuated.

Four years, multiple surgeries, and countless hours of rehabilitation later, Nayla is returning to finish what she started. Her team consists of experts in multiple fields, from pro skiers and medical trainers to backcountry guides, cinematographers and photographers.

Kyrgyzstan Group As stated above, the goal of this project is to help create a sustainable ski industry in Arslanbob. The mountains and terrain in Kyrgyzstan are world class – huge and coated in light snow all winter. However, the village is very difficult to access and lacks much of the basic necessities and infrastructure for winter tourism. The team will work with local guide Hayat Tarikov to teach members of the community, young and old, to ski and snowboard. For those who can already ski and ride, guide training will be available. It will not be all mountain training though, the team will also work to educate the local population on the process of responsibly growing winter recreation.

Return to Krygyzstan Baggage

The #Return2KG team has now officially touched down in Kyrgyzstan (with 1500 lbs of gear in tow) and has made it safely over treacherous mountain passes to their destination of Arslanbob. You can follow the team’s location and social updates in real-time with

This is a great project and we’re stoked to help support it by supplying the group and soon-to-be Kyrgyz guides with splitboard bindings. Other contributors on the snowboard side were Jones, who came in with the splitboards, and Never Summer who supplied 15 youth snowboards for the village children to learn on.

Check out for project news and more information on Nayla, her team, and people of Arslanbob.

We will update the Spark Blog when we hear from the #Return2KG crew, stay tuned!