Photo: Jonas Bendiksen/Magnum Photos
CHINA. 2013. Altai Mountains, Xinjiang. Serik using his skis as an anchor while an elk battles him. They use only their traditional skis and leather hide ropes. This is the traditional way of hunting in the Altai, practiced for thousands of years. The skiers run the animal into deep snow, where it gets paralyzed. Temperatures in the area regularly drop to minus 40 Celcius. Skiers in the area use a single wooden staff, as opposed to the modern two-pole technique, and the base of their handcrafted skis have horse-hides permanently attached for traction. In the far northern corner of Xinjiang province, in the Altai mountains, one can find the last remnants of an ancient culture. The area is populated by a mix of ethnic Kazakhs, Mongolians and Tuwas, who handmake their own wooden skis in the same way as their forefathers thousands of years ago. This animal was later let loose by the skiers.