or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › Trip Reports  › Gulmarg 2013 Trip Report
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Gulmarg 2013 Trip Report

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

G’day to everyone at Epic.


  Here’s a pretty detailed account of our trips to Gulmarg this season. Now, I’ll give the immediate disclaimer that this is a sponsored post, we will be posting about the trips we ran last season to Gulmarg with our clients for The Adventure Project, but I’ll try and do it from my perspective and try not turn this into a major marketing piece. Hopefully there will be some decent information for those looking to conduct their own trips to Gulmarg and I have absolutely no problem with people asking me questions, even if you were not interested in one of our trips. I’ll always try to help anyone going to Gulmarg for the first time, as I’ve done before; it’s good to have any advice if you’ve never been there. There may be a few mentions to Grace Skis in there as well, I apologize for that; Grace are our ski sponsor and we had designed a ski specifically for Gulmarg and we were testing them out, so there may be some reference to that. Now, there’s potentially a lot of information going to be posted, so be patient, I’ll post a couple of sections at a time so you don’t get overloaded. I'd love to hear your comments!


Departure (1/17/13)

  Living in Telluride, it’s a bit of a hike to get to Denver to start our trip, but always a fun start. In the car we had Gordon, a good friend and client returning to Gulmarg for his “second rodeo”. Gordon was the first return client we’d had, so I was excited for him and eager to see how much more at ease he was with going back to Gulmarg for a second time. It’s always pretty overwhelming going to Kashmir and Gulmarg for the first time, so I was keen to see what the difference would be for him this time. Also in the car was Karl Welter, also from Telluride. Karl is an experienced ski patroler from here in Telluride and also works for AIARE as an avalanche course conductor. Karl was on board to experience and learn the mountain, with the potential to come on board for 2013/14 as our Snow Safety Adviser, guide and avalanche safety training leader for our clients. I’d been revving the trip up to him for several months back in Telluride (which was off to a very poor season, so the thought of skiing some decent powder was an exciting prospect to all of us), so he was super keen to get out there. The drive to Denver was uneventful. We visited with Dave Liechty, owner of Grace Skis and he presented me with my new KIWI skis, a 138mm underfoot beast that would be my weapon of choice on the trip. I had them mounted with the new Salomon Guardian binding, a sidecountry touring binding I’d never tried before. They set up looked pretty aggressive, (fast in my mind), but immediately they felt really heavy. I was going to lose some weight this trip….


  We checked in the next day nice and early, I’m a big believer in getting to the airport early so we have plenty of time to get sorted, hopefully the check-in people are in a good mood earlier as we always come through with a bunch of extra bags. We were flying Lufthansa and we were stoked to find out that they were going to give us the ski bag for free, that’s about a $150 saving! We are off to a great start.


  We were due to fly Denver – Frankfurt direct and then change planes and fly to Delhi, this was about 16 hours of actual flight time, not including the 3 hour stopover in Frankfurt. The flight cost around $1,700 return, not too bad. Lufthansa seemed like a good choice, you actually have leg room in cattle class and all the chairs have their own entertainment system. So, an easy flight (9 hours) to Frankfurt and then plenty of time to make the connection, so Karl and I had a couple of German beers at Frankfurt.


  The next flight (7 hours) proved a little more eventful; Gordon and I had an older gentleman from India sitting between us and he decided to hit his smuggled on-board Jim Bean hard. He was 1/3 of the way through it after not even an hour, plus he was getting drinks from the stewardesses. He pretty quickly got very drunk as he was drinking his Beam straight from the bottle. Then he started to try and strike up a slurring conversation with us in Indian and kept prodding and poking at us both. Needless to say, I wasn’t too appreciative of this and asked the stewardesses if we could be moved. They had extra seat so Gordon moved and our drunk friend was moved to the aisle seat, so at least we had a buffer between us. Time for some sleep!


  We arrived in Delhi around 1:30am local time (1/20/13) and by the time we got out of the airport, it was closer to 3am. We had changed all our $USD into INR at the airport, you get a reasonable exchange rate (MUCH better than at the airport in the US!) and then you have all your money ready to go. Make sure you ask for some smaller bills as well as, as per usual, no one in India ever seems to have any change. Make sure you remember to pick up your bags in Delhi as they won’t be automatically put onto the next flight to Srinagar (as one of our later guests found out…it gets very complicated if that happens and your best bet is to fly back to Delhi and pick up the lost bags physically yourself…. The issue is due to having to clear the bags through customs yourself. Don't forget your bags in Delhi)


  Our transportation to the Airport Hotel was waiting, so we strapped all the bags to the roof for the short 10 minute ride to the hotel. The Airport Hotel is a reasonable choice of accommodation if you have to do the overnight in Delhi, its cheap (about $70 for an air-conditioned room) and most importantly, very close to the airport. The transportation is free, but the drivers will definitely ask for a tip (200INR should be more than enough) and they include breakfast. We were meeting another new trainee guide, a snowboarder from Big Sky called Jeremy Wood and another client, Jim, the next day at the hotel. We had to be up early for our 12:30pm flight to Srinagar as it takes a long time to clear security, we always allow at least 3 hours. You’ll have to go through at least 3 or 4 x-ray machines and security checks. They take their security very seriously in India.


  We met Jim and Jeremy downstairs in the hotel, had a quick breakfast and made our way back to the new International Terminal for our quick Air India flight to Srinagar. The new terminal is a big upgrade from the old terminal; it’s really clean and modern with plenty of shops inside. After we cleared security we went to the terminal and did a little shopping. Gordon went straight to McDonalds for his last Western food fix and the rest of us did some shopping. I always like to visit the pharmacy and stock up on anti-biotics (no prescription needed) and anti-diahorrea tablets. Karl had advised me to get some Forcan tablets, designed as an anti-biotic to treat worms, they also work very well to treat Delhi belly (we never advise people to take any kind of prescription medication without consulting a medical professional first!). You can also stock up on Immodium, pro-biotics and hand sanitizer, all good things to have in the med-kit. We met our final guest, Mike at the terminal, just before getting on the plane.


  The flight to Srinagar is very quick, only an hour and twenty minutes. You definitely want to get a seat on the right side of the plane as you get the best views of the Himalayas. They really are amazing, I love looking at them; they go on forever and are very impressive. The terrain looks amazing, from a skier’s perspective!  As quickly as you’ve gone up, it’s time to start coming down. The descent into Srinagar Airport is fun; it’s on a plateau and is also a military base. You are always going to see a lot of military personnel in Delhi, but you’ll see even more in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. The hangars on the outlying areas of the airport are all painted in camouflage and you’ll see plenty of MIG’s and attack heli’s parked in the hangers. Not a good time to be taking photos; you probably want to put the camera away until you are out of the airport.


  You then make your way to the baggage claim and wait for your bags. The porters will come in and try and help you with your bags, you don’t really need them unless you want to tip them for their services. Finally you have to fill out another long arrival/registration form (You’ll do about 4 or 5 of those during your stay) and then it’s outside to the taxis. Our man on the ground, Bashir, was there to meet us and we had 2 jeep-style taxis. I was happy to see one of the drivers was our friend Mushtaq, one of the best drivers in Kashmir! His prowess in snow driving is legendary. Unfortunately I was not in his vehicle and had a very young-looking driver. Inevitably we ended up getting stuck a bunch of times on the drive up to the mountain. We didn’t have that driver again after that, but Mushtaq drove us a lot and definitely is the man!


  As we left Srinagar, we started out into the countryside and hit the alpine road. It wasn’t long before we started to hit the snowline; it was very low this year, an excellent sign. There was a ton of snow as we got to Tangmarg, where we had a quick rest and stretch of the legs. The drive up to Gulmarg normally takes around 1 ½ hours, but with all the snow on the road and the one inexperienced driver we had, it took a lot longer. Even with chains on, our vehicle was slipping and couldn’t get out of the deep ruts so it was hard to allow passing traffic to get around us on the mountain road. It didn’t help that our driver only thought we needed one chain as well. Weird…. Anyway, we finally made it up to Gulmarg and the crew got to see their first look of the town and the mountain. I think a few jaws dropped when they finally got to see how big the mountain is. It’s impressive. We drove past the golf course, past the bottom of the gondola and up to the hotels.


  Unfortunately, we were not all staying together as Mike and Jim had missed out on availability at the Hotel Heevan and were staying a little higher up at the Grand Mumtaz. The Mumtaz was the only hotel available when they booked, Gulmarg was seeing a rush on in accommodation bookings at the last minute and this was the only hotel available, so the best we could do unfortunately. I had also never been to the Mumtaz before and could not personally vouch for the hotel, other than the recommendation that our booking agent had given us. The Hotel Heevan Retreat where the rest of us were staying, we know that hotel very well after staying there the previous 2 years. The welcome you receive from the hotel is always very special, there is always a lot of handshakes and hugging that goes on and this year, we even had a cake baked for us. Lovely stuff! So, we had to quickly unpack at settle in as we had dinner and the indoor greeting and initial indoor avi safety talk to get through by the end of the night. So, a big day and the next day we would be out on the mountain. Day 2, to be continued…. Photos coming next. 

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 51
Thread Starter 


Karl (guide) and Gordon relaxing in Frankfurt Airport.




Might as well have a couple of tasty German beers whilst we wait for the next flight.




Prost! Karl and Matt (author) enjoying a couple of cheeky ones.




The always exciting drive up to the mountain. Arriving in Tangmarg, staging point for the mountain road up to Gulmarg.




The team in Tangmarg - from left to right: Jim, Mike, Gordon, Karl (guide), Jeremy (guide).




Mushtaq, the Man! Chaining up, getting his vehicle ready for the exciting part of the drive.




Typical hustle and bustle in Tangmarg. No Snow Monkeys to be seen this day unfortunately.




Tangmarg buried, a good sign of things to come.




Driving up the mountain road to Gulmarg, nearly there.




Lots of snow in the lower tree skiing areas.




We finally made it to the Hotel Heevan Retreat and we had this lovely cake waiting for us. Thanks guys!

post #3 of 51

Looking forward to more.

post #4 of 51
Thread Starter 

Post 2 coming in an hour or so Marty! I'm working on it, thanks for reading and commenting. The first posts are probably going to be the longest and most detailed, the skiing parts will be more photos and video I think.

post #5 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 1


  No rest for the wicked! Karl had put on an excellent avalanche safety talk and PowerPoint presentation on the night of our arrival, of all the things we had to cover this day, so it was time to hit the slopes. We had a lot to get through, so everyone had a big breakfast and then headed down to the bottom of the hotel steps to meet Mike and Jim coming from their hotel. Our first order of business was to go through our mandatory daily beacon check procedure. We do this near the hotel every day and we check everyone’s beacons for their ability to send and receive a signal. Everyone checked out fine and then it was a quick ski down the road to get to the bottom of the gondola. On the way down, you have to go past the trailer where they sort the garbage and leave out the old food scraps from the nearby hotels. As usual, there were a bunch of snow monkey’s picking through the refuse and several dogs and big birds of prey (Kites I think?) hovering about, so everyone got to see some monkey’s up close for the first time.


  The next order of business is to go and purchase the lift tickets. Now the process purchasing lift tickets has always been an area of frustration in Gulmarg; it used to involve searching for the infamous “Man with the Briefcase”, the man with the tickets that would never been in the same place at the same time each day. This year though, the Gulmarg Gondola Corporation (government owned and operated!)  had built a small ticket office near the bottom of the gondola, for purchasing lift tickets. This would theoretically make life a lot easier, especially with the introduction of a new re-charge card system where you can purchase tickets for the bottom and top stages of the gondola and put credit on them, which would be charged at the rate of 150 INR for the bottom stage and 250 INR for the top stage.


  Now, this would make them the most cost effective and efficient means of purchasing tickets in theory, but in practice, they didn’t work out quite as well as they should. The tickets had barcodes on them that would need to be scanned each time you wanted to use them. Unfortunately the barcodes, after a while would start to rub off and would not scan very well. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. This could get a bit frustrating if you knew you still had lots of credit on their and the gondola operator wasn’t going to let you on and was trying to make you go back to the ticket office. Then later on, they ran out of the re-charge cards altogether, so our second group couldn’t purchase them and they had to resort to buying the single lift ride tickets. For next season, we are packaging the cost of weekly lift ticket passes; it seems to be the best way to go, a lot less frustrating. Every year Gulmarg gets a little more efficient, but they still have a ways to go. But as I like to say, if things ran smoothly all the time, then more people would come to Gulmarg, it would be a lot busier and you wouldn’t get to ski all the amazing snow!


  So, lift tickets were now in possession and it was time to experience the gondola and get up to the top of the mountain for the comprehensive day of avalanche training that we had planned. It was a beautiful warm, sunny day and the whole team was eager to get up to the top. We started to walk from the ticket office over to the gondola and we started to hear a lot of yelling and chanting in Kashmiri. We rounded the corner and there was a rather large group of locals engaging in some kind of protest. I had a chat to one of the local guides and he said that the locals were protesting a local guide who had been banned from being able to use the gondola due to an altercation with one of the gondola staff. They were stopping anyone else from accessing the gondola. Welcome to Kashmir! This was a new one; I’d seen lots of things in Kashmir before but not this… So, not wanting to incur the wrath of the angry mob, we decided to hike up the lower slopes a bit to find an open area to start the beacon training. We found a nice area not too far from the scene, where we could still practice but keep an eye on the situation. Another group did the same thing. So, although we had to hike a bit more than usual, we got some useful practice in going through the basics of single and multiple burial scenarios, pinpoint searching and probing. The guys did well and showed constant improvement, always finding the hidden beacons, but we all agreed the pinpoint phase of all the searches could still do with more practice. By the time we had gone through all this, a couple of hours had passed and the police with their AK-47’s had finally dispersed the crowd. So it was time to jump on the gondola.


  Getting on the gondola is somewhat of an art-form in itself and I guarantee it never gets any smoother with practice. The gondola is an old bubble design, purchased second-hand from a French ski area in the 1980’s. The bubble opens and you have to jump in with your skis sticking out of the top. The racks outside are mostly designed for old narrow straight skis and won’t fit modern fat skis. I normally put my poles in the baskets outside, take my pack off and throw that in next and then try and shoulder my way in. It always feels like a junk show and probably looks like it too…. But, there’s no easy way. They are starting to rig up some bigger baskets on the outside, but they don’t seem to work too well either. So, until then, it’s rugby time.

  My favorite part of all this is getting the clients up the gondola and jumping out at the mid-station and having people see that view of the upper mountain up-close for the first time, it never gets old and is one of the most inspiring views in all of skiing, I think. By the time we got to the mid-station, it was lunch time so time to introduce the team to one of my favorite restaurants in Gulmarg, the Restaurant Cum Waiting Hall (that’s what the sign says!). The food is actually really good, mainly curry and Chinese food. It’s very cheap as you can imagine and you get lots to eat (you need it). My favorite is Butter Chicken with rice and then some “finger chipees”, which are the Kashmiri version of French fries. Basically fat French fries cooked in olive oil, especially good with curry sauce on them.


   After lunch, we jumped on the gondola and took the ride to the top. It takes about 15 minutes, without any stops and the view up is amazing. You really start to get a feel for how big the mountain is and the vertical you can get. It’s about 1300 vertical meters from the mid-station to the top, so that’s about 4,265 vertical feet. The runs are long! You can even do a 6 mile run down to the old town of Drung (more on that later). The view from the top is stunning; you are surrounded by amazing terrain and can see all the way to Nanga-parbat in Pakistan, the 9th highest mountain in the world. Plus you can see a couple of the army camps that they have set up to monitor the area.


  Our mission was to get some turns in, in the controlled area underneath the gondola. It was fully tracked and presented some tricky skiing, probably the hardest skiing of the trip. We didn’t have to worry about the ski off and forming our groups as we just had one group, so we went straight into protocol training. Basically, we were showing the clients some of the techniques we use when skiing in potential avalanche terrain. So, we introduced concepts such as skiing one at a time where necessary, what are the islands of relative safety, always watching each other, identifying terrain traps and what were the more dangerous aspects (relative to the time of day). We finished off the run by finding a quiet place to dig a pit and we showed them the formation of the snowpack.


  In Gulmarg, the snow safety team and ski patrol controls the ski area and puts out the daily avalanche advisory. Prior to arriving in Gulmarg, all the guides had been monitoring the avalanche reports detailed on the snow safety team’s website at www.gulmargavalanche.org, an excellent resource administered by Colorado native, and head of the snow safety team, Brian Newman. Brian has been instrumental in training the local Kashmiri patrol and improving the snow safety infrastructure in Gulmarg. Without Brian and his team (including the Kashmiri Ski Patrollers), Gulmarg would be a very different place. His exceptional work over the last 6 years should not go unmentioned! Cheers Brian.


  This season the snowpack had started in a similar manner to the previous season; i.e. the early snowfalls that came in late October and early November sat around and got rotten, large, unstable facets grew at the base of the snowpack until finally, around mid-January, the snowpack finally reached its’ tipping point and there was a massive natural avalanche cycle (no one was caught or injured). This cycle cleared out most of the weak layer at the base and thankfully the snowpack could start again with more solid foundations. There were a few pockets of depth hoar lurking in some isolated patches, so you had to be careful in places, but mostly we enjoyed relatively stable conditions throughout our stay. The most reactive areas tended to be south-facing aspects that would heat up later in the day, the signs of decreasing stability were obvious in these areas as pinballs would gather in size and momentum on the warming faces. We highlighted the known strength of the snowpack with some ECT (Extended Column Test - no result) and some other tests, in our test pits with the guests. The snowpack was right-side up; very different to the conditions we’d left behind in Colorado.


  It’s always good to show the guests the make-up of the snowpack and how we use some of that information in our daily planning, however we stress that this is just some of the information we use in the decision making process and this needs to be constantly monitored as the weather changes and then storms roll in. We finished the day with a final group multiple burial, rescue scenario, in realistic conditions in a gully close to the gondola. It’s a big step up working as a team like this, participating in a multiple burial scenario in realistic terrain and snow conditions, rather than just participating in searches on flat terrain, without the skis on. It’s very different and I know all the guys enjoyed this more realistic and challenging scenario. The guys did well and had shown much improvement than when we first started. It was time to head into the backcountry the next day, out of the controlled area. Part 3 coming Monday! Time for some actual ski pics and video then.

post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 


View of the upper mountain from the mid-station at Kongdoori.




Looking up towards the summit of Mt.Apharwat.




Some of the 33 named ridgelines on the frontside of the mountain.




Much needed lunch at the mid-station restaurant, curry and finger chipees!




Looking out towards Sunset Peak and one of the army camps along the ridgeline.




Some of the terrain in the background that is accessed by the Heli-ski operation.




Top of the gondola (nearly 4,000m) and some of the old-style gondola cabins.




Gondola coming up from the bottom station of the gondola, you can see some of the summertime shepherd's huts in the background. 




End of the multiple burial rescue training. The victim was found (in this case, skins bag with transceiver in it).




Checking out the interface between the more recent storm layer and the previous snowpack, during an ECT test.

post #7 of 51

Thanks for the report, looking forward to more.  I used to ski with Newman when he patrolled at Snowbasin, glad to hear he is doing well.  Also got to ski with Mike a few times when he has visited Utah.  Fun to live vicariously for now!



post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 

No worries 4ster!


  Small world eh? Brian is a good bloke and has done a great job in Gulmarg. I think he's been there for 6 seasons now, that's a fair amount of  time. I hope he keeps coming back, but the day will come hopefully when he completes his mission and the local ski patrol are ready to be independent. I saw quite a few red jacket patrollers this season in Gulmarg, several had graduated to proper patrol status, so they are getting there. A local girl from Tangmarg (I think...) tried out for patrol this season and just missed out on making the cut. She would have been Kashmir's first female patroller. I hope she gets in next season, that would be huge.


  Skiing as a sport is taking off in Gulmarg right now. If you go to the local poma lifts on the golf course, you see hundreds of people learning to ski. There are a lot of local kids getting out there now and lots of girls skiing now as well. I think a few years ago (2009), the New Zealand Ski Club sent a couple of ski instructors out to Gulmarg for 2 months to teach the local kids from Tangmarg and Srinagar and they only had 1 little girl participate. Now there are lots of girls learning to ski. The first time I went to Gulmarg in 2008, there were half as many locals learning to ski, now there are so many more. What has been really cool to witness, is the progression of the locals skiing technique. Now on the poma lifts, you see kids trying to get onto their edges and rail the skis (I'm sure the equipment has gotten better too), the standard has really progressed in the last 5 years from what I've seen. It's pretty unique to see the history and evolution of skiing in Gulmarg, happening right in front of you eyes.


  That's great that you know Mike as well, again small world! I think Mike learned a lot on his trip with us. He hadn't done much skinning before or spent much time in the backcountry, he seemed to pick it all up pretty easily. The skiing at the start of the trip was kicking everyone's butt's, mine included. There was a lot of untouched snow but a lot of wind-affected snow and sun crusts, the turns were very inconsistent. Some of the toughest conditions I've ever experienced in Gulmarg. I kept trying to re-assure the guys that the snow was coming and the conditions would improve. Sure enough, we got 140cm's in one dump and the skiing was awesome. Finally the group could get to experience Gulmarg at it's best and we saw a big improvement in everyone's skiing. Good times!



post #9 of 51
Thread Starter 

Days 2, 3 and 4.


Day 2 


  It was time to take the team out for their first proper ski into the backcountry outside the ski area boundary. Now just so you have some perspective, in terms of the stats of the mountain, the gondola rises from 2,700m at its base to over 3,980m (13,054ft) giving a vertical rise of nearly 1,300 vertical meters (4,265 vertical feet). The mountain is huge, a 5 km ridgeline gives access to over 33 named bowls and ridges that can be easily accessed from the gondola and that's just the frontside of the mountain. There are several ridgelines behind the main face of the mountain that you can explore as well; the Shark’s Fin area and the Great White Shark area behind that. Who even knows if those are the real names, there are no trail signs out there. Then there are the trees runs lower down, below the Gulmarg plateau into the Baba Reshi Shrine area and down to Tangmarg. You can do a 6 mile ski down into the old town of Drang, one of the longest off-piste runs in the world. So, there was a lot to explore.


  We started to with a quick run off the top of the gondola and headed skier’s right. It was pretty tracked out but a good warm up run and a chance for the guys to get a feel for the layout of the mountain and what is most easily accessible. It’s important to learn the runout zones and how to get back to the mid-station of the gondola. Basically, the further right you go, the harder work it is to get back to the gondola (before you get caught in the Drang drainages). Having said that, it is interesting to note that you can actually push a fair ways out to the right and still make it back to the mid-station, especially if you are up for a bit of a skin. You might find a really good bowl out towards the Drang Bowl areas and still make it back to the mid-station. We definitely explored those boundaries later in the trip!


  The first run was pretty tracked out, so the skiing wasn’t that fun. There were a few really nice pockets were you could get a few turns in some untouched powder, but nothing to write home about. We decided to hike up to the summit, for our next run. This was the first time I think Mike and Jim had skinned before, so we took a little extra time, helping them with their skins and getting the bindings into tour mode. Then we were off! Skinning to the summit of Apherwat is about another 800 foot vertical and takes about 30 minutes at an easy pace. You are hiking at over 13,500ft so it’s relatively demanding, though the hike isn’t very technical. Normally there is a separate skin track and boot pack, its a little steeper at the start but then mellows towards the end. We tend to cut left and traverse behind the summit as it definitely gets steeper on the bootpack if you take the direct route up. You don’t need to climb all the way up and over the summit if you are heading out far skier’s left, you just go around the side and save yourself a lot of time and energy. We only ever take the steeper route up to the summit if we are going to ski the Apharwat South or North Bowls, otherwise we go around.


  I think our first run past the summit was up to the Chooti Nali Bowl and the Paper Tree Bowls. The guys did great on the skin; there’s no need to do any kick turns but you do get to practice using the climbing aid with the varying pitch. We de-skinned around the corner from the summit and had a beautiful view into the Shark’s Fin bowl area. Then off to Chooti Nali. There were plenty of untouched lines here but the weather had really affected the snow. We had a mixture of wind-affected snow and some sun crusts, the skiing was really tough and the turns very inconsistent and unpredictable. You would have several turns of nice snow, then you would hit crust (which you couldn’t tell from the other snow) for a few turns; it was just a real fight from top to bottom. It was very hard work and very challenging. I was finding the Grace Kiwi’s to be a real handful in this snow. You would think that with 138mm underfoot, they would just plane over everything? Well, they were tough to ski. The skis do not have a lot of sidecut at all; in the 196cm length I was skiing on they had a 57m turning radius and they are a very heavy ski. Without that sidecut, when they broke through the crud they wanted to go straight and it was really hard to create any turn shape. The key I found, was being really strong on the downhill ski and trying to get the ski to bend, then it would carve around in the turn better in the crud. The skis are very stiff too, so that was really hard work. I know the rest of the team was finding the skiing tough. I think the only one making it look relatively easy was Jeremy on his split board, he was killing it. He was very good at pressuring the tail of his board at the end of the turn, causing the tail to sink and nose to rise, being able to control speed that way. He’s a smooth rider, that’s for sure!


  Anyway, I knew that we would have to work through these conditions until the first storm arrived, then conditions would change and we’d get back to skiing the powder that Gulmarg is renowned for. Until then, we would have to ski a few more days in some challenging conditions, but if you can ski in those conditions, it will only make you a better skier. It’s tough love! We managed to make it through the Chooti Nali area and found our way to the Paper Tree Bowls at the bottom of the zone. I was hoping that a slightly different aspect might change the consistency of the snow, but you also a lot lower now with the potential for higher temperatures changing the snow again. Well. The top was definitely nicer. We had gone from a more North-facing aspect to an East facing aspect which was more sheltered from the wind. So, we finally had some softer snow without the wind-crust and enjoyed some nice turns at the top of the bowl. As we got lower, the snow quality definitely changed again with the change in temperature, the snow became noticeably heavier. If you hugged the trees and stayed in the shade, you could still find some good snow.


We all made it out of the bowl and the next challenge was to show the team the path back to the hotel. If you stick to the left of the bottom stage of the gondola, then you come out in a wooded area and there are some power lines that start. If you can find those, then you follow them until you get to a small bridge and turn-off to the left. The road back to the Grand Mumtaz and the Heevan is just at the top of a slight climb over the bridge. It’s obviously very important that you learn the way back to the hotel, to save any walking at the end of the day. Day 2 was a big day, with lots to show the guys and tough skiing conditions. There was talk of a storm brewing, but it was still several days away.

post #10 of 51
Thread Starter 


Top of the gondola, ready to take our first trip out past the boundary.




Heading out skier's right with Jim and Mike.




Karl, showing us some of the massive vertical in the background.




Jim, Mike and Gordon, half way through our first run in the Trajan Bowl area.




Big terrain, lots of ridgelines and bowls in the background with the gondola in the distance.








Pockets of decent snow left, this is probably 10 days or so after the last storm.




End of the run, time to traverse left to get back to the gondola mid-station. 4,200ft vertical of skiing.




Run 2, time to skin up past the summit.




Some tourists from Delhi we met on the skin up. They had been hiking up to the Apherwat Summit in just running shoes and jeans, post-holing up their knees.




Looking back towards the gondola.




Jim making good progress. You can see the boot-pack right next to the skin track.




Awesome views towards Sunset Peak.








Karl, pointing towards the steeper lines in the Shark's Fin area. There are some great, technical lines in that zone for those seeking even more challenge.









Skins off as we've reached our skiing point. Sharks Fin looking good in the background.




Gordon getting ready for the downhill after the 30 minute skin.




Sunset peak area, different angle.




Shark's Fin




Jim and Gordon heading over to the start of the run, Chooti Nali Bowl.








Skier's left of the gondola, checking out the terrain. Looking back across Apherwat North and South Bowls.




Apherwat North Bowl




Start of Chooti Nali, you can see the various avalanche diversion formations that they have built below, to help protect one of the large army bases below.




Gordon dropping in.








Jim, Chooti Nali Bowl




Jim, looking good. You can see how wind-affected the snow was.




Gordon, Chooti Nali Bowl. Plenty of untracked, 10 days after the last storm but tough skiing.




Large crown at the top of the Paper Tree Bowls. This is from natural avalanche activity during the previous storm, 10 days ago.




The skiing in this zone was much better, nice a soft at the top.




Skiing down the Paper Tree Bowl. The snow was better in the trees as it had stayed colder. The sunnier aspects were definitely heavier.




Jim, getting down.




Gordon, staying in the trees where the snow was a little better.

post #11 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 3


  I think it was just Jim and I this day. Jeremy and Karl were off exploring and Mike and Gordon were taking it easy.  The weather wasn't looking too flash so it turned out to be a shorter day, though we still got some good turns in.



One of the local Kashmiri Ski Patrollers. He was one of the newly red-jacketed patrollers. These guys have to earn the right to wear the red.




My rigs on the right - Gulmarg edition Grace Kiwi, 196cm with Salomon Guardian bindings. Grace Kylie's on the left.




Heading up to the Summit again, ahead of the crowd. We are heading towards the Khilanmarg Bowl area.




The day started off nicely and then the clouds started to roll in. The weather can change quickly and you need to pay attention to the cloud cover.




Looking up to Apharwat Summit.




The clouds were starting to build. We dropped in on one of the mellow lines in the Sharks Fin area, basically straight ahead of where we had skinned. This area was untouched and Jim finally got to ski an untracked line. Those are my tracks in front of him. This is a great area to ski to get fresh tracks when the avi danger is a little higher. It is low angle and rarely skied, so you can often find great snow there. Then you can traverse out and get over to the Khilanmarg area really easily.









Jim in the Khilanmarg Bowl 1. There are 4 of these bowls, all are huge with massive vertical. We found good snow in the guts of the bowl which was skiing pretty well. There were only a couple of tracks in it. The avi danger in the alpine zone was rated low, so we had great stability. It's pretty rare you get a low avalanche rating in an alpine zone during the middle of the ski season.




Plenty of room and lot's of fresh in the Khilanmarg Bowls.




Cutting right towards Lily Wide and the Singing Trees to get back towards the hotel exit.







After the days skiing with Jim, it was only around 2pm so grabbed Gordon away from the hotel and we went on a walkabout over to the poma lifts to meet with some of the locals.




Local snowboarder wearing an old uniform from Falls Creek ski area in Australia.




Pretty soon we had a big crowd of locals around us wanting to talk to us. The Kashmiri's are so friendly. We showed them the old pole balancing trick and they all wanted to give it a go. Awesome!




I think we had about 20 people give it a go. A couple even got it.




One of 5 poma lifts that they've built on the golf course area.




there are hundreds of people hanging out and skiing on the pomas. You definitely have to go on a walk through this area and meet some of the locals.




Since 2008 when I first visited Gulmarg, I've seen a lot of the locals really improving their skiing. I'm sure the equipment has gotten better too, but a lot more of the locals are making parallel turns and getting up on their edges. These guys were having a blast railing their skis and utilizing the sidecut on their skis.




Railin' it!




Small Church out in the meadows.




Bottom of one of the poma lifts at the end of the day.




The other locals! Snow monkeys in the trees next to the path to the Hotel Highland Park, our favorite watering hole in Gulmarg.





post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 




Here's the trail map for Gulmarg so you can see some of the locations we were skiing.

post #13 of 51

Two of my favorite things - skiing and India.

What a magic place now on my bucket list.

The avalanche danger can not hold a candle to the risks you face crossing any street in India on foot. I did it and survived. Now I fear nothing.


post #14 of 51
Thread Starter 

I can relate D1, I've seen them drive in India and it scares the life out of me!


post #15 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 4 and 5


  I forget exactly where we skied on day 4 and I didn't get any footage that day, I seem to remember Jim, Mike and I heading out towards the Drung Bowls area. We skied a line or two and then had to cut back left in an attempt to get back to the gondola. We ended up doing about a 30 minute skin to get back to the gondola plateau, which was great as we had found the limit on how far you can cut right before you have to make it back to the plateau. Now, Day 5 was the really fun day and the best day of the trip so far. We wanted to do the 6 mile ski down to the old town of Drang but we wanted to ski some new zones that we had been looking at. We nearly had a full compliment but were still missing Gordon. Gordon was waiting for his blisters to heal that he picked up on the second day when we skinned (he had loosened the tops of his boots and rubbed up his ankles pretty good), he was scheduling a return the next day.


  We had seen some untouched faces, way way out skier's right (we are more than 2 weeks now since the last storm with low avalanche danger) towards the Pep's Mistake area (named after Pep Fujas who went a little too far out skier's right, allegedly) and the plan was to ski a line in that zone and cut left to get back into the Drang Bowls we were more familiar with. So, we went for it and pushed way out to the right. The bowl was untouched, with good looking snow. There was evidence of some old avalanches with some old crowns present and some small cornices starting to form. It was looking good, so we dropped in one at a time and found great untouched snow. Here's what that looked like.



Getting on the gondola, we were first in line most days during the first week. This was probably around 9:15am.




Heading way out to the skier's right of the mountain.




Mike, Matt and Jim, discussing our options and where we need to be. We are going to ski the bowl behind us but discussing our egress route.




Low avalanche danger rating, but still lot's of untouched snow. You can see the crowns from the avalanche cycle 2 + weeks previous. We felt good about skiing it but treated it with a lot of respect.




Matt, dropping in in a break in the cornice. Time to tread carefully and ski this one at a time, even though the danger was rated low.




Plenty of room to ski some bag fast GS turns. There were no other tracks with really nice, relatively soft old powder. Again, you can see the old crowns from the previous slide. I skied down and stopped on a prominent ridgeline to watch the others ski one at a time. It was pretty sweet, Mike and Jim skied there best turns of the trip here.




Nice turns from Karl and Jeremy (guides).

post #16 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 5 continued....


  So, the first face was really nice. We then had a hard traverse left to get back to where we needed to be. We were looking at a new line down the midway section to Drang. We had seen a bunch of faces that we wanted to ski from previous visits to Gulmarg and the group were keen to try something new. So, we had to traverse across several ridgelines, going one at a time and watching each other as the south facing aspects we were crossing were showing the first signs of warming up. We needed to get across them quickly. Finally we made it to a ridgeline which would then lead to the new zone. This was going to be a series of faces that we were hoping were going to be untouched. The first couple of lines had tracks on them so we pushed on and finally came to the top of a long, open face in between some massive old growth fir trees. It looked amazing. So, I dropped in first and skied it nearly to the bottom and set up to film the rest of the crew. The snow was awesome. Again, old powder, but nice and soft still and consistent. Awesome turns were had.



We made our way down the chute and into one of the main drainages. We followed this down with plenty of fresh, but heavy snow, to be had. Karl managed to film an Asian Black Bear walking across one of the chutes above us. Pretty cool, I'd never seen an Asian Black Bear. When we got back to the hotel, we looked it up on Wikipedia and it turns out they are very aggressive bears and there are many stories of them attacking humans. I'm glad we only saw it from a distance.


  We skied to down the trail and came up on the intersection with the other Drang trails. Then we went past the construction works for the new hydro-electric power station, crossed the bridge and did the quick 10 minute hike to the remainder of the downhill. We could put the skis on again after the hike and we skied down through the outskirts of the old town of Drang to the iron bridge where out transportation was waiting for us. It was an amazing day with the best skiing so far and I think all enjoyed the adventure. Then it was off to the Downhill Restaurant in Tangmarg for a late curry lunch. The Butter Chicken was pretty darn good. I think we all slept well that night.



Asian Black Bear




Glad we saw this guy from a distance. Next year, I feel it's my time to see a Snow Leopard, there are lots of them around Gulmarg and we've seen plenty of their tracks.




Nearly out, Drang Bowl drainages.




The new pipeline that carries water to the new HEP powerstation near Drang. Now you have to ski underneath these pipes to get back on the path.








The final challenge, skiing over the narrow bridge to get back on the path. It's pretty narrow with a sketchy in-run so you have to be careful or else you'll go into the river..... It's just a 10 minute hike from here to get back to the pick-up point. You can take the dirt road that goes on the other side of the valley, but it's not as nice.






The iron bridge and our pick-up point for the taxi.




Looking back up the valley to the top of the mountain, where we skied from. One of the longest off-piste runs in the world.




The Downhill Restaurant in Tangmarg, our favorite place to grab a late lunch before heading back to Gulmarg. It's about 45 minutes or so drive back to the resort. Looks like Mike had a good feed!

post #17 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 6


  I think everyone was a bit tired after our adventure to Drang the day before, so only Jeremy, Gordon (feeling better after his blisters had healed) and myself suited up for the day. Karl, Mike and Jim took a rest day. No worries. With Gordon full of energy and Jeremy always ready to go for it, we decided to take Gordon on a decent hike way out skier's left. He had never been out that far so he was excited to explore a new area. Out goal was the Lienmarg area, further on past the Khilanmarg Bowls where I had skied with Jim a few days previous. We had to hike out past the summit and then head skier's left, several km's across the mountain. We got to the top of our run and it had relatively few tracks. Jeremy went down first to set up a place to film. I dropped in next and the snow was pretty good, un-tracked, relatively soft but not too deep. It felt like a little bit of fresh snow had been blown in.


  The next section was shockingly bad, there was a lot less snow with a breakable crust that made the skiing really tough. It had looked good at the start but definitely did not ski nearly as well as the top section. Oh well, it's all about the journey and the adventure right? So, we decided to start traversing back to the right, thinking that if it wasn't going to ski well we might as well start heading back a little so we had less of a hike back. We got onto the ridgeline to the right and kept going. Now, to our surprise, we opened up into a huge series of faces that looked like the snow was going to be a lot better and there were hardly any tracks. We found a completely untouched zone with decent vertical and went for it. The clouds were coming in making filming difficult. This is how it all skied.....




  This zone was amazing and the snow was great, considering it hadn't snowed in ages. It was a bit of a mission to get back, but worth it. The storm that had been threatening for several days finally rolled in that night and it started to dump. In the next couple of days we got nearly 140cm's. The skiing was epic! Maybe I'll show you some more.......

post #18 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 7


  So, it had dumped that night with snow and was still snowing hard. There was no way the gondola or even the chairlift was going to be open, so we had to options for skiing; Monkey Hill or taxi laps down to Baba Reshi. I felt Monkey Hill would be our best bet; it's higher than Baba Reshi so it potentially would have gotten better snow plus it's free! The guys were getting good at skinning and it's only a 25 minute skin per lap for about 500 ft vertical. But the zone is pretty steep and the trees are really open, so potentially very good skiing. Today, the whole crew was coming out. As soon as we got outside the hotel we could see just how much new snow there was, an absolute ton. Skiing was going to be epic today! We met Mike and Jim down at the road and headed off to the gondola area. Sure enough, there were a lot of people hustling around trying to get their taxis organized. Looks like everyone was going to Baba Reshi, so now Monkey Hill was looking even better. We quickly put our skins on and started the climb up the road behind the ticket office. There was already a skin track put on ahead of us, but it looked like only one group ahead of us. You couldn't ask for more than that! There was a ton of snow and the skiing turned out to be amazing. Everyone got legitimate faceshots that day. We did 3 laps and this is what it looked like.





A fun day. The storm finished up that day and the weather forecast was for sun the next day. There was a chance the chairlift might open as well, we wouldn't want to miss out on that.

post #19 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 8


  I messed up. I forgot that day 8 we went skiing to Baba Reshi, whoops, must be getting old. The snow kept going for 1 more day, I forgot. We decided to try Baba Reshi as an alternative to Money Hill. The day started off nicely, but then the clouds rolled back in and it started to snow hard again. I remember now, the day was a bit of a bust unfortunately.... So, we had already organized our transportation and our man Mushtaq was there to meet us around 9am. We were the first ones out and ahead of the pack. He drove us to the telephone exchange area, at the other end of town. The road had been freshly plowed and the access to the start of the run was fine. the snowbanks were impressively high and it was hard to climb over them to be able to get our skis on and drop in. The line was untouched and inviting. In we all dropped and had good, deep snow at the start of the run. The snow got progressively heavier the further down we got and it became relatively hard work for some of the guys. We made it down to the road and awaited our lift. A few other groups started to appear on the road as we waited. I had been told by our fixer, Bashir that it was going to be a different driver picking us up. I had the drivers ID# but it was hard to make out on all the taxi's. After an hour, several groups had been picked up and we were still waiting there.


  We decided to pass the time with a bit of road cricket and Jeremy and Karl decided to try some back flips and front flips into the deep snow off a bridge. This was highly entertaining but was not getting us any closer to our lift. I wasn't getting any cell phone reception so Jeremy and I went for a walk towards the main road to see if we could get any reception to call Bashir. After about 20 minutes of walking I finally picked up reception and called Bashir. He didn't understand why were still there and found out that the driver had picked up the wrong group. Mushtaq was on his way back to get us but was getting stuck in traffic, the road was still blocked in places and the traffic was barely moving. To cut a long story short, Mushtaq got to us after a 2 hour wait and then it took us more than 2 hours to drive back up to Gulmarg. Tough day in the office! We all decided that we'd had enough and went back to the hotel. In hindsight, we should have just hiked Monkey Hill again. Oh well, the next day more than made up for it!



The skiing was pretty good, but not really worth the 5 hours of commuting and waiting around for only one run. D'oh!




Our early morning wake-up call courtesy of these snow monkeys on our hotel roof.








Mushtaq, tying down the skis ready for the quick ride to the start part for Baba Reshi.




Hurry up and wait!




Karl and Jeremy playing the waiting game.




A little improvised snow cricket. Matt bowling to Gordon. The Grace Kiwi's were a little un-wieldly as a cricket bat.

post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 

Day 9


  Right, back on track. The sun was out after the big storm and the chairlift was rumoured to be opening. It was a beautiful bluebird day and the mountain was beckoning, blanketed in more than 140cm of fresh snow. The avi report was calling for a danger rating of moderate and the winds had been pretty light too. Given the rate of settling we'd already seen and a solid snowpack underneath, we were optimistic the chairlift would open. We thought the chances of the upper gondola being open were slim to none; I wouldn't have been too keen to go charging up to the top anyway, I'd rather let the snow settle and stabilize more. We got down to the gondola and there were plenty of people around, but many of them were taking the taxi option again. I had a feeling the chair was still going to open so I suggested we take a quick warm-up lap on Monkey Hill again. We skinned up again, noting that the snow had settled by at least 30cm. This wasn't necessarily a good sign as too rapid of a settlement can be a bad thing. Time would tell.






  The skiing on Monkey Hill was excellent. We found an untouched zone with something for all abilities and set to work shredding it up. We all found a nice line, but it definitely wasn't as deep as what we skied 2 days previous during the storm. I think we were skiing on about 30 cm's of fresh, still really nice. The lighting was nice and we got some good footage in the can. By the time we got to the bottom the gondola was loading and we jumped in line. The queue wasn't too big and we jumped in line, pretty soon we were at the mid-station looking at the main part of the mountain. It was pretty spectacular, tons of new snow and not a track in sight. We also noted that there hadn't been any new avalanche activity and ne wind-loading. A good sign. Then we saw the chairlift starting to spin so we raced over to have a look. There weren't that many people in line yet, so a couple of us jumped in line for tickets whilst the others kept the place for the chair. It took a little while, but finally we had our tickets and were about to get on the chairs.

post #21 of 51
Thread Starter 

We got on the lift and by about a third of the way up, the first of the skiers and boarders started to come down. The snow looked really nice; probably 30cm + of soft creamy snow. Yum. There was plenty of hooting and hollering going on, the anticipation was killing us. We finally made it to the top of the chair and pushed out to the skier's left. Mike, Jim and Gordon came with me and Jeremy and Karl took there own line. It was untouched where we wanted to ski. Here's the footage of the subsequent runs we took. We stayed on the chairlift area all day, everyone was having so much fun skiing un-tracked line after un-tracked line that we even skipped lunch. This was real hero skiing for everyone. it was great that the clients got to experience Gulmarg at it's best in the Alpine zone. Sweet day! 



Our first run,  shown in it's entirety to show you how long of a run it is, even from the chairlift.




Mike and Jim were really starting to look more confident in these conditions and were skiing a lot stronger and making more fluid turns, than at the start of the trip. Great job gents!

post #22 of 51

Pretty remarkable and unquestionably unique TR from a storied part of the world. Not known for its skiing but its natural beauty, rugged terrain, and close to the sites of the highest battlefields on Earth. 


Great to see you folks helping it grow, and it warms one to see all those folks in India getting into skiing. The costs are probably still prohibitive for sure for most, but it's a start.


Nice work, great travelogue.

post #23 of 51
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post

The costs are probably still prohibitive for sure for most, but it's a start.


The trip was ridiculously cheap, IMHO.  $3800 for 2 weeks of guiding, hotel, breakfast, and dinner -- and a single room.  Yes, you did have to buy your own lift tickets, but I think I spent $50 for the 2 weeks.  You can't even go for a week guided hike staying in a tent with most guiding companies for that.  I used frequent flyer miles to get there, in first class...


I suspect Matt will be putting the prices up. It was a spectacular trip.  Highly recommended.  Cheaper than heli skiing, and more of an "experience!"



post #24 of 51
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post

Pretty remarkable and unquestionably unique TR from a storied part of the world. Not known for its skiing but its natural beauty, rugged terrain, and close to the sites of the highest battlefields on Earth. 


Great to see you folks helping it grow, and it warms one to see all those folks in India getting into skiing. The costs are probably still prohibitive for sure for most, but it's a start.


Nice work, great travelogue.


  Thanks dustyfog, glad you have enjoyed the posts so far. I have a few more posts to add, mostly just ski footage though. Hope you like it. Gulmarg and Kashmir are very unique places, with some of the most hospitable people in the world, IMHO. The area is very beautiful, I'd love to visit Kashmir in the spring or early summer, it looks amazing with all the flowers and greenery. If you are referring to the Siachen Glacier where India and Pakistan are still actively shelling each other, then that is more than a 700km drive (not that you can drive all the way), so it's not something you really think about when you are in Gulmarg. You will see a massive military presence in Gulmarg (approximately 80% of the Indian Army is stationed in Kashmir) and you also have the Indian Army's High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) in Gulmarg as well (think 10th Mountain Division for the Indian Army). So, you see a lot of soldiers around, but I think a lot of people quickly become desensitized to it all. The soldiers are just there, doing their jobs. I do remember a funny story (or what I find quite amusing in an odd kind of way) from my first trip to Gulmarg in 2008. I was speaking to the head of gondola operations, I don't recall his name, but I said to him "Don't you think tourists will worry with all these soldiers hanging around, close to the gondola?" His reply was "Why should they worry? The gondola is very well guarded!" That always puts a smile on my face when I think of that.....





Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

The trip was ridiculously cheap, IMHO.  $3800 for 2 weeks of guiding, hotel, breakfast, and dinner -- and a single room.  Yes, you did have to buy your own lift tickets, but I think I spent $50 for the 2 weeks.  You can't even go for a week guided hike staying in a tent with most guiding companies for that.  I used frequent flyer miles to get there, in first class...


I suspect Matt will be putting the prices up. It was a spectacular trip.  Highly recommended.  Cheaper than heli skiing, and more of an "experience!"




  Thanks Mike, glad you enjoyed your trip and your experience in Gulmarg. I'm happy you found our prices to be reasonable too. Yes, we have put our prices up slightly for the upcoming season - see  http://www.theadventureproject.net/Dates-and-Costs.html or http://www.epicski.com/t/120351/gulmarg-powder-sessions-2013-14-early-bird-pricing-the-adventure-project, for a couple of reasons:


  We decided to package in for this year, the price of 2 weeks of lift tickets (2 x 1 week passes, per person - valid for all bottom/top gondola rides and all chairlift rides) for all participants, so this is a raise across the board for all our packages. We felt that including the lift tickets, though more expensive, would be more efficient and remove some of the frustrations we've had with lift tickets in the past. As you witnessed, we were hoping the re-charge cards would be the most cost-effective and reliable form of ticketing in Gulmarg for the future, but after you left, they ran out of re-charge cards and we couldn't get any for the second session guests..... Also, given that the bar codes were prone to rubbing out and stopping the cards from being scanned, we decided that they were not reliable, hence our move to package in weekly passes for next season. I'm hoping this will be the best method of ticketing for our guest moving forward. I should be able to purchase the tickets in advance through our hotels, so we don't have to waste any time on the first day of skiing.


  Finally, the Hotel Heevan decided to increase their prices for single and triple share rooms. The prices for double occupancy have actually come down a little and are still very reasonable. Our big news is that we will now be working with a 5 Star Hotel, the Khyber which has given us very competitive room rates and you will not see a huge difference in price between these two hotel options.




post #25 of 51

Dang. I am highly intrigued.


Curious, how many female clients do you get, and are there any issues with traveling in these areas?

post #26 of 51
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Dang. I am highly intrigued.


Curious, how many female clients do you get, and are there any issues with traveling in these areas?

I was thinking the same thing. (Also kids, as in foreign, tourist kids.) BTW, it's great to hear more local girls are getting out in the snow too.


Excellent trip report, thanks for sharing. 

post #27 of 51

Do it, Seg.  Matt, are you still doing your info session at the Hogshead Brewery in Denver May 29 around 7 PM?  If so, anyone in Denver who is interested ought to check it out.  


Here's my perspective on Gulmarg.  I think I'm a pretty advanced skier.  Gulmarg humbled me.  It's not that it super steep -- most of the lines we skied are in the low 30's to upper 30's.  It's the combination of how on your own you are (well, there is the rest of the group) and snow conditions that are variable.  It was great skiing, but there was also windslab, sun crust, a mixture of dense and light snow that messed with my mind.  Mix in trees (on the Monkey Hill and Baba Reshi days with really deep but dense conditions) and it was easy to be overly cautious.


I've not skied much backcountry conditions, just a couple of cat trips and side country at Jackson.  The two weeks allowed me to get on top of my skiing and I came back much more of a charger than I was before.  I don't mean hucking stuff and skiing beyond my ability, but rather than you turn off worrying about the conditions under your feet and let the body ski it.


I also made the mistake of buying new really wide (128) skis that I couldn't ski before arriving in Gulmarg.  We had little snow in Colorado, so I had a couple of hours on the skis on hardback (!) before getting to India.  While big sticks are pretty much demanded by the conditions, it'd be better to have some time on them before arriving in Kashmir.


I'd also suggest getting some time in the backcountry skiing manky snow.  The conditions might not be like that on the trip, but more experience breeds more confidence and more fun!



Edited by habacomike - 5/21/13 at 9:57am
post #28 of 51

TR is quite the unique story. And the development contribution for skiing to the country is seriously commendable.


On costs, I meant to refer to costs one incurs when skiing, you know, gear, lift tickets, transport, hotels, etc. for Indian residents in the country are still high but the economy there has come a long way and a lot more people can afford it for sure. Otherwise, HC, you are right, trip costs seem eminently reasonable and for tourists in major cities and major hotels, India is not necessarily inexpensive. So the trip organized seems  well worth it. And the service it does to India in the area, promotes much goodwill.


And to OP, yes, Siachen is a long ways away, North-East and I was not referring to that. But as the crow flies, the Pakistan border is about 10 to 15 miles directly due West, that was all. The soldiers there is a good for sure.

post #29 of 51

For the women who asked, this was a nice blog post by an Aussie woman about Gulmarg recently. 



And to add to the excitement, since that is part and parcel of going there (note Gulmarg itself has been remarkably free of let's say violence through most of the last 20 years, I have no idea why but it has remained this island of tranquility from what I understand) And I hasten to add, that area is amongst the most beautiful in the world since the mountains around you are so, so high! Nothing like it anywhere else on earth naturally..



Maybe I will make it there one day to ski too with you guys but have to work out some logistics on this end first!

post #30 of 51

DF, the LOC is a lot closer than 10-15 miles.  At one point on a skin, it looked like we could see a fortification on the LOC that was no more than 2-3 miles away.



New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Trip Reports

Gear mentioned in this thread:

EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › Trip Reports  › Gulmarg 2013 Trip Report