Adventure Not War: Veterans Return to Iraq to Ski and Heal

Last February, veteran Stacy Bare returned to Iraq for a different type of tour.

Nearly 10 years after his deployment as a U.S. Army Captain, the director of Sierra Club Outdoors aimed to ski the country’s second-tallest peak, Mt. Halgurd (11,834 ft.) in Iraqi Kurdistan’s northern Arbil Province. And, along the way, he hoped it would offer something deeper.

“I feel like I have a responsibility to go back and explore the places and people that maybe I had heard about while I was in Iraq the first time,” Bare says in the film Adventure Not War, released today and named for the organization he started to promote peace and understanding through adventure in regions where U.S. soldiers once fought or continue to fight. “I had heard about skiing in northern Iraq, in Kurdistan. Mt. Halgurd was the main objective. And as far as I know, nobody has skied up and down it.”

Stacy Bare leads the way on Mt. Halgurd. Iraqi Kurdistan. [Photo] Max Lowe

In the film, Bare is joined by Robin Brown, a mother of two and former pilot who was shot down over Fallujah in 2003, and Matthew Griffin, who fought in Mosul as a U.S. Army Ranger.

“I’m a pilot, and so I saw this country during my first two deployments from about two to three-hundred feet,” Brown says. “I almost had no interaction with the people.”

For all three veterans, the expedition served as a way to understand more deeply a place that’s heavily impacted their lives, to offer a sense of closure, to share their story of healing and to remember fallen friends.

Veterans Robin Brown, Matthew Griffin and Stacy Bare (left to right). [Photo] Max Lowe

“I have to take care of my own healing process; we all have to ultimately take care of our own healing process,” says Bare, who was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2014 along with U.S. Army Ranger Nick Watson, with whom he cofounded Veterans Expeditions in 2010. “That’s why I wanted to go back. And I wanted to make sure that I rewrote a different ending for myself in Iraq.”

Adventure Not War from Nimia on Vimeo.

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