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Introducing the Adventure Project

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

If you are an advanced skier with a desire to go backcountry skiing, but feel you are lacking the skills and experience to go it alone, you might consider taking your first outing with our new sponsors, Matt and the Adventure Project. Check out this detailed article about The Adventure Project 2013 Gulmarg Trip to learn all about it. 


We’ll teach you how to use a transceiver, shovel and probe and what to do in the event of an avalanche. We always follow avalanche safety protocols when traveling in potential avalanche terrain. If you are already experienced in the pow, we’ll take you to the deeper spots, take some video and do some analysis and make you even better.





We don’t want to take you to all the usual destinations around the world that have already been done to death; somebody else can take you there! We go to the places without the crowds, where you can still get great snow DAYS after a storm, not hours! You will be immersed in different cultures and meet many friendly locals. We hope you like our first destination, Gulmarg in the Indian Himalayas, a freeriders paradise. Gulmarg has the world’s second highest gondola and gets a ton of snow. You can get over 1300 vertical meters in one run and there’s hardly anyone else around to compete for freshies! We hope to expand our list of destinations as demand increases, but we’ll be looking at options in South America, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and even Turkey, Iran and Lebanon. There is so much good riding out there, you’d be surprised. Our aim is to take you there. Watch this space, we’ll keep you updated!

Edited by nolo - 9/14/12 at 1:36pm
post #2 of 22

Thank you Nolo for the introduction!


  We are excited to be working with EpicSki and look forward to contributing to the community. I'll be monitoring this thread, I'd be happy to answer any of your questions about our freeride camps or about skiing and riding in Gulmarg in general. Ask away! We hope to meet some of you in the Himalayas this winter.




Matt Appleford,

Owner/founder - The Adventure Project - Global Powder Sessions.

post #3 of 22

It is amazing what there is available in the ski world.  Have to admit, have never skied India.  Wish I was richer and younger to go with you.  Had to punch up Epic as just drove the Glacier Hwy into Stewart BC about 30 mins ago and needed my snow fix.  Good luck and welcome to Epic.

post #4 of 22

I never heard of Gulmarg before, but this Warren Miller type of adventure is now on my bucket list.  I have to find a way to make this happen...

post #5 of 22
Omg, that's an incredible deal. I've checked flights and get there on miles. The rub is the amount of time -- almost 3 weeks of vacation given the logistics of getting there. The spouse doesn't seem to be thrilled with no vacay for her next year...

Guess I'll ponder this a while. Joan, are you going?

post #6 of 22

Thanks for the welcome Pete. I've been 'stalking' these forums for a long time, figured it was time to join up. Good to be here! Quant, thanks for checking us out. Our aim is to make Gulmarg as accessible as possible, take away the hard work, make it as easy and as fun of a time as possible. I remember my first trip to Gulmarg in 2008, I was pretty nervous about the whole affair. I'd heard lot's of negative things about the place and about Kashmir in general.... so I know the first time going to Kashmir can be a little daunting. I love going there now, I look forward to going back each year and always receive a warm welcome. I'm going to post some short video's on here to further highlight the skiing/riding. I'll also be putting up some of our client feedback video's on here too. We have a good one from last year from a client from Colorado who came to Gulmarg for the first time last year. I think hearing of his experiences might be of interest to you. Also, check out the galleries and the trip section on EpicSki, I posted a bunch of photos from our trip last year that you can check out too.


A lot of film companies have been out to Gulmarg, especially American or Canadian companies. If you want to do a little more research, here's a list of the companies that I know of who have filmed in Gulmarg.


Warren Miller - they have filmed out there twice now. The first was Off the Grid and then they filmed out there 2 years ago when Gulmarg Heliski opened up. You can find the Off the Grid Gulmarg footage on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p_YXMBUeV4.


TGR - Tangerine Dream (can't find a specific YouTube clip for the Gulmarg part, just the trailer for the whole movie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JacqyklEGNE)


Matchstick - Seven Sunny Days - a lot of Mark Abma and Mike Wilson jibbing the old hotel and kicker sessions behind the Telephone Exchange at the start of Baba Reshi. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzG6-k3zu-o


The Ride Guide - They did a great feature on Gulmarg, filmed in 2007 - http://www.rideguide.ca/frmSearchSnow.aspx. You might need to look up Episode SNOW 127 (2007), it's a 4 parter. Really good. It's a little old now, one important change to note from this video, they do now use explosives to control parts of the mountain. The controlled area is the 2 bowls underneath the gondola and above the new chairlift.


B4Apres Media made a great short, 23 minute movie in 2010 titled "Azadi: Freedom." It's a great ski film that also highlights the political situation in Kashmir in the 90's. The skiing is awesome and they feature some of the colourful locals of Gulmarg. The start is a little sombre, but overall it shows the feeling of hope and the movement towards prosperity, as they say, "Kashmir was a paradise on Earth." Here's the trailer - http://vimeo.com/14403779.


I love this short feature put out by the Salomon Freeski Channel on YouTube, it's really good. Probably one of my favourites from last year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoewIaUZdqI.


And finally, this is the little 8 minute edit we did last year! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfyFiHbH05s&feature=plcp.


Here is the client testimony from Gordon Stuart, that we filmed last year. This is the short version, the full (10 minutes plus!) version is being down-loaded onto YouTube today and both will be added to our website asap - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeML8oohdys&feature=plcp. We have a lot of short video's on our YouTube Channel (Mattadvproject) of our staff in action in Gulmarg.



Please keep the questions/feedback coming. I think this is a great opportunity for all of us to interact and for people to find out as much information about our Gulmarg Powder Sessions and visiting Kashmir.




post #7 of 22

Omg, that's an incredible deal. I've checked flights and get there on miles. The rub is the amount of time -- almost 3 weeks of vacation given the logistics of getting there. The spouse doesn't seem to be thrilled with no vacay for her next year...

Guess I'll ponder this a while. Joan, are you going?

G'day Mike,

  Thank you for checking us out. Yes, I hear you, 3 weeks away (2 weeks with us and several days travel......) is a long time to be away. That is probably the greatest issue I have with going to Gulmarg, it is a long way to go and travel time is pretty savage, especially from the States. We felt that given the amount of time it takes to get there, spending 2 weeks in Gulmarg really is the way to go. The other factor is the weather. It has been our experience that when the weather comes in and it starts to snow, it can really dump, up to a couple of metres in a 2 to 3 day period. When this happens, the gondola invariably gets shut down. It can take a day or two for the gondi to re-open as they wait for the storm snow to stabilize and do their control work. So, let's say you came for a week, during the middle of a storm cycle, there could be a chance that you miss out on skiing the gondola terrain, which in my opinion, is the highlight of skiing in Gulmarg. If you come for 2 weeks, then you should be able to ski a nice variety of the Gulmarg terrain. FYI, when the gondola is shut down, we still ski. We normally ski the tree runs down to Baba Reshi Shrine (steeper options) or all the way down to Tangmarg (long and mellow), then get a jeep taxi to pick us up and do it again. There are also some great turns to be had on Monkey Hill, a short and relatively easy skin (20 to 30 minutes) that accesses some great steep and less-skied, runs through some amazing forest. The snow quality is even better than Baba Reshi and Tangmarg as it is higher. 


Let me know if you want me to send you a free info pack with flyer and program DVD.




post #8 of 22

It is amazing what there is available in the ski world. Have to admit, have never skied India. Wish I was richer and younger to go with you. Had to punch up Epic as just drove the Glacier Hwy into Stewart BC about 30 mins ago and needed my snow fix. Good luck and welcome to Epic.

Definitely PeteNoIdaho! That's why we started The Adventure Project, to take the curious and adventurous-minded people to some of these hidden gems. There are some amazing places out there that still haven't really been discovered by the masses (not that we really want to start bringing in the masses....). I think, thanks to the internet, that it's getting easier to find and research some of these places. I've spent a lot of time watching ski movies, reading magazines, books and doing research on the net. YouTube is a great tool, as long as you don't mind sifting through some pretty dodgy content, you can find some good background on potential destinations. In the upcoming seasons, we'll be adding to our list of potential destinations. We definitely want to get south America up and running asap, but probably more of the smaller resorts that have great access to sidecountry. Japan is definitely a go, there used to be over 400 ski resorts in Japan before their recession hit and they get some of the best snow in the world, if not the best. But there are other places on our radar: Russia, Turkey, Eastern Europe, the Clubfields of New Zealand, the former Soviet Republics (a lot of the 'istans' in central asia, pardon the pun). If the political situation ever calms down, then Iran has amazing skiing, similar to Gulmarg, in terms of the size of the mountains, the amount of snow and how cheap it is. By all accounts, the locals in the resorts are really friendly too. We hope to take our clients all around the world in search of the best snow and to immerse ourselves in different cultures. Don't get me wrong, I love the skiing here in the US. I'm lucky enough to live in Telluride, but I also love to travel and to go on these amazing adventures. We figure that there are probably other people like us and I think our program will appeal to those people that want a similar ski/board experience, but maybe having a company help organise everything and accompany them, might make the experience more achievable.




post #9 of 22



Wow..welcome to Epic ski.  You certainly got my attention.  I'm look for out of the way back-country adventures where someone like you and your company has worked through some of the logistical challenges.  It seems perfect for a small group of fairly advanced skiers.  Gulmarg looks incredible and I like the rest of your list as well.  I will give this some serious thought and talk with my ski group.  I'm sure I have questions, just having trouble thinking through exactly what it is I want to ask.  I think you may have stated this in the thread, but this is your 3rd year operating there?  I assume you have built a network of local relationships that helps you work through any "obstacles" you may encounter beyond obvious alpine hazards.  Like your first impression, it sounds a bit sketchy, but you have figured out how to make this work in such a turbulent region eh?  I'd definitely like to get more info.





post #10 of 22

G'day Randy,


  Thanks for getting in touch, I'm excited to talk more with you. Yes, this will be our 3rd year operating in Gulmarg and personally will be my 4th visit. I'm excited to get back there. We have a partner in Gulmarg already established and they help us with our local logistics. It's a much easier way of doing things. Our partner is Ski Himalaya, established by Peter Robinson from Sydney. I think Pete is or was a member of EpicSki, but it's probably been several years since he was on here last, but I could be wrong. Peter was probably the first overseas operator to bring tourists to Gulmarg after they established the gondola in 2005, so he is well-connected. Anyway, we work with Peter and he organises our accomodation, we use his network of drivers, he sets up the houseboats for us and we use his man on the ground, Bashir to help us troubleshoot. Bashir is a local man from Srinagar and he helps us a lot. He is very important to our operation. Anything that our guests need, he is the man we go to. So, we feel we have the local side of things pretty well established. Now, please bare in mind that we are in India, so things will probably never run quite as smoothly as they do here in the States, so it's best if you come to India and Gulmarg with a more-relaxed frame of mind. If you do that, then dealing with India will go a lot smoother for you. We run as tight of a ship as we can! We'll try and make it as easy as possible for you and your group, to join us in Gulmarg. We can help you through any of the logistics of getting there.


  I'm sure you have plenty of questions, so please ask as many as you need. It might be an idea for me to send you our program DVD. It's free, just PM me with your address and I can get that out to you tomorrow. The DVD is 45 minutes and will show you a lot more of the skiing and the terrain, plus we do a detailed run through of the hotel and the houseboats. If you are seriously thinking about coming, then it would be good to have a chat over the phone and go through things in detail. We want to make sure our program is right for you.


  I look forward to speaking with you further,




post #11 of 22

Here's some photos that highlight the gulmarg experience. Enjoy!


Tim Williams - Trajan Bowl. This is one of the lower pitches towards the end of the run and this is easily accessible from the top of the gondola. It's about a 7 or 8 minute downhill ski along the ridgeline to the skiers right of the mountain and then multiple pitches down from the ridgeline in the Trajan Bowl. You can get in a lot of good vertical before you have to cut hard, skiers left, to get back to the gondola mid-station. 


Matt Appleford - Army Camp Ridge. A great steep ridgeline in the middle of Trajan Bowl, directly below the army camp. Again, another run that doesn't require any hiking or skining.


Tim Williams - Army Camp Ridge. One of our favourite runs, great snow, no tracks and great for filming.


Matt Appleford - Army Camp Ridge (apparently we like Army Camp Ridge!)


Mike Steven - Hapat Khued Bowl. Another run straight from the gondola, this was one of the lower pitches. The top had several tracks on it already, but lower down, you could find several untouched lines. Bearing in mind though, we were skiing this about 2 weeks after the previous storm, so that was still pretty good!


Tim Williams - Trajan Bowl. The snow down here was so light and dry and was super-consistent. This was lower down, untouched and still 2 weeks after the last storm. Gulmarg is a pretty amazing place for those willing to travel.


Tim Williams - Monkey Hill. This is a great area to ski during a storm, it's one of several tree'd options we have. Tim and I skied this by ourselves, the other guys were taking a break. This was right after the big storm that came through about halfway through our trip. We had about a metre and a half of new snow during the storm which lasted for 2 days. This one involves a short 30 to 40 minute skin up from the bottom of the gondola and gives access to some open but steep, old-growth tree skiing. Our other options include the runs down to the Baba Reshi Shrine area and Tangmarg. Baba Reshi has a nice variety of terrain, everything from steep to mellow and Tangmarg is long and mellow. We use the jeep taxis as shuttles and you can do many runs in one day. A good option if the gondola is down due to storms.


Tim Williams - skiers left from Kongdori gondola mid-station. There were plenty of fresh tracks to be had if you take a short traverse (say 10 minutes), to the skiers left of the gondola mid-station, across the plateu. This is a good option of the gondola is closed down or for skiers/riders looking to build confidence before heading to steeper terrain.  We skied this 3 days after the storm after skiing Monkey Hill and Baba Reshi for a change of pace.


The view from the mid-station at Kongdori. This is only a fraction of the mountain that you can see. The main ridgeline is approximately 5km wide. There are roughly 33 named bowls and ridges on the frontside of the mountain, with a 1300m vertical drop (over 4,200ft) from the top of the gondola back down to the mid-station. You can do a 6 mile run down to the little town of Drung. The mountain receives an average of 42ft or nearly 13m of snowfall annually. Lift tickets are $5 per run and we do around 3 runs per day. A busy day in Gulmarg is maybe 200 people. The gondola is an old re-claimed 1980's gondola from somewhere in France. It's hard to make out, but if you look carefully, you can see the new fixed-grip quad chair that runs alongside the gondola to the top of Mary's Shoulder. That was built last summer and provides access to intermediate terrain. This main bowl is controlled and this is where we do most of our avalanche safety training with our clients at the start of our trips. This is similar to lift-accessible heli-skiing, minus the price. Think Silverton on steroids, but with a range of terrain options.


View across to Shark's Fin, some of the steeper terrain at Gulmarg for the more adventurous skier or boarder. This is behind the main ridge, probably an hour skin from the top of the gondola. There are tons of runs that don't get skied, beind the main ridgeline.



Meeting the kids down at Drung and the start of the great toboggan race. From the top of the gondola, you head downhill (skeirs right) along the ridegline some 2km's before dropping down into one of 6 of the Drung Bowls. Basically you just choose the bowl that doesn't have any tracks on it and off you go. We skied this the last day of our trip and is an awesome way to finish of your stay. This is nearly a 6 mile run. If you know where you are going you can find decent pitches all the way down. You finish with a short hike out of the valley and if you want, you can hang out with the kids from Drung. They have these cool little handmade toboggans that they like to race around on and will gladly hitch a ride on the back of your skis if you are up for it. We normally finish the day with a massive curry late-lunch back in Tangmarg on the way back up the mountain in our jeep taxi.


One of the kids from Drung and his homemade toboggan.


Water taxi taking us out to the houseboats for our final night in Kashmir - Dal Lake, Srinagar.


Pakhtoon family of houseboats on Dal Lake, Srinagar. This is a great way to unwind and finish off your trip and is included in the package. This is where the Beatles used to stay during the 70's and Rockerfeller stayed there as well. The manager of the boat looks after you and cooks a great dinner and breakfast for you. You can even unwind with a beer or two. The views of the Pir Panjals (part of the Himalayas) are amazing and in the evening you can hear the call to prayer. You can do some shopping in Srinagar if you like, we recommend going to one of the carpet factories and shawl (pashmina) shops that are on the shore.  


Heading out to the floating vegetable markets - photo by Jerrod Fast. The vegetable markets are an extra side-trip you can do on your last morning, before you leave for the airport. It costs a couple of dollars to go and it's well worth the early (7am) start. A water taxi will come and pick you up at the houseboat and take you through the maze of canals out to the vegetable market where traders are selling fresh vegetables. It's a great insight into the lives of the locals which I definitely recommend.


Monkey's on the roof of our hotel in Gulmarg. You will sell lot's of monkeys around Gulmarg, these ones were hanging out only a couple of feet from our window. They like a snack, but don't get too close to them. When you arrive in Kashmir and are travelling up to the mountain for the first time, look out for monkeys when you get to Tangmarg as they are common there too. There are also Musk Deer, Black Bears and even Snow Leopards.


Traders conducting their business at the floating vegetable markets, Dal Lake. Photo by Jerrod Fast.




Hope you like it!



Matt Appleford

post #12 of 22

Hey Matt, what's the guide to guest ratio?



post #13 of 22

Hey Mike,

1 instructor/guide to 6 guests is the maximum. We'd normally need 4 people minimum to start a group, though this will depend on business levels, there could be some flexibility on this if we are a bit light on numbers. For us, 5 is the ideal group size (plus the instructor/guide). Ideally we'd like to keep the skiers and boarders in their own seperate groups, it's easier that way for the instructor/guide, especially if we have groups that really want to focus on their technique as well. We also like to have a ski group lead by a ski instructor/guide and a snowboard group lead by a snowboard instructor/guide. We might get private groups that can be mixed skiers and snowboarders. We would definitely need at least 4 people to secure a group like that. The focus of these groups would be more biased towards the guiding side of things. We try and match our groups by abilty, experience and motivation. I'll need to thoroughly interview any potential guest before they sign up, make sure they are right for the program and get a lot of background info to help ascertain their skiing/boarding level, so we can best match people into groups.


Does all that make sense?




post #14 of 22

Yep, it all sounds very interesting.  I've got one (and possibly two) buddies who are kicking this around.  We are all level 9 skiers who ski together qutie a bit.  We also all are interested not only in skiing, but getting better in our skiing.  We are in the unlimited lesson program at Breck and have a coach that we regularly ski with -- Mark Bagby (Bags) who has been around for a long time.  There's not much that we won't ski, although hucking stuff is not really in the cards for us.  I've also skied with a few members of the National demo team, including Jim Schanzenberger, Robin Barnes, Charlie McArthur, and Rob Sogard, and also skied 4 days with Dan Egan. We've skied the Big Couloir and North Summit Snowfield at Big Sky, Zero G at Jackson, Highlands Bowl, and have done limited cat skiing.  Since we ski Breck, we are familiar with sking wind slab, although we'd prefer something softer than that!


I'm working on my buddies to see if I can convince them to drop our planned trip to Kicking Horse and substitute this instead.  If not this year, then next!



post #15 of 22

Great Mike,

  Thanks for giving me that background, that really helps, thanks. Sounds like (on paper at least) the terrain of Gulmarg would be ideal for you. You should be able to handle most things terrain wise, but you'll really enjoy the snow, they get a lot in Gulmarg! Well, if you can get 4 people together, then that is a group. If you could get only 2 then I have someone that would fit in nicely with  your group to make up numbers. That would be Gordon from Telluride, who came out with us last year. He's keen to come back this year, we can build a group around him. He's a PSIA level 2 instructor and obviously knows Gulmarg having skied in our program last year and is a strong skier. So, he's there to make up the numbers if needed, though we do have a couple of groups considering us right now, where he could work. So, your call if you want to come with us, we'd obviously love to have you. It'll definitely be a different experience than Kicking Horse, which is also an awesome place.


  I'm excited that you are keen to work on your skiing too, that is a big part of our program that differentiates us from the competition. We seem to be the only company taking people to Gulmarg that offers high-end instruction and guiding. The only other company that was offering a similar service (that I know about) was Extremely Canadian. Now, admittadly I don't know a lot about their program but I can tell you that last year they charged $3595 for a similar program, however that price was just for ONE week, not two. They haven't posted any prices or info for this year so can only assume they are not running their Gulmarg program anymore, though I could be wrong. We will be going into a lot of detail in terms of avalanche safety skills as well; our initial safety training is pretty comprehensive so be ready to brush up on your skills. We can talk more about that later. But basically, we have 12 days on-snow to work on powder technique aand get as much mileage as possible. It should be a good time. We can get the video camera out too and do some video analysis. With your group, we can break down your technique as much as you want. That's cool that you take part in the limitless lesson pass deal in Breck. I'm a big fan of those clinics, we have the same deal here in Telluride where I teach, I get to take a lot of the level 8 groups out (we go up to Level 8 here in Telluride, though I think we should have 9 levels.... but's that's another story). It's great to work with the same people over the course of the season, you can actually get stuff done and make changes.


  Well Mike, sounds like you and your group would be a great fit. It would be fun to work with you and I think our program would give you what you are looking for. Let's try and make this happen!




post #16 of 22

We also have lot's of Gulmarg info on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Adventure-Project/144169795641847. Check it out if you have time and please 'Like' us if you want. There are plenty of Gulmarg video's and links on the site as well as tons of photos that aren't on Epic or our website to check out. A great way to get stoked for winter!




post #17 of 22

I thought I'd post some POV video's to give you a better feel for Gulmarg's terrain and snow. Here's the first, this is one of the runs from the Summit. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get to the summit of Mt.Apharwat, depending on your pace. If you have skins, it's a little easier and quicker than taking the bootpack. This is the Apharwat South Bowl, the first bowl you come across when you reach the summit. The light was a little flat, but the skiing was awesome. Nice, light, consistant untouched powder. Enjoy.


post #18 of 22

Hmmmmm. That doesn't seem to want to work. Here's the link to the video that was supposed to appear above. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjBBfIQmO90&feature=g-upl.


post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Joan, are you going?

Our older daughter was married a month ago and the credit cards have just returned to room temperature. This one I'll have to enjoy vicariously. 

post #20 of 22

Here's today's clip. Let's see if I can get this one to work. This is the Chooti Nali Bowl, again another bowl accessible from the summit of Apharwat. This one is about a 45 minute hike then a couple more minutes traverse, skier's left on the mountain. The snow was awesome and this was about 2 weeks after the previous storm. Not bad eh?




post #21 of 22

D'oh! Doesn't want to work again. Weird, I'm putting the code into the video player and it shows the thumbnail, but when you go to post it, then the video player that comes up is blank. Anyone else having a problem with this? Well, here's the link the old-fashioned way......... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUBsGakXmbQ&feature=g-upl. I think I'll just do it this way from now on!


post #22 of 22

Congrats on the familial addition.


Hope to ski with you soon.



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