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FYI - our website on snowriding in the Himalayas

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Dear All

Greetings from Down Under. Its many years since I first traveled overseas to ski – to one of my all time favourite places – St Anton am Arlberg.

Since then I've travelled a lot to winter resorts all around the world before finally visiting the Himalayas - several times - today we launched our website "www.skihimalaya.com" which centres on the region's first major alpine resort - Gulmarg in Kashmir.

The site has everything you need to know including Q&A on safety aspects. By the way, Gulmarg has a lifted-vertical-drop which is bigger than St Anton in Austria, Las Lenas in Argentina or Jackson Hole in USA.

If you're thinking of riding anywhere in the world next winter, I can thoroughly recommend joining us in the Himalayas. Especially if you like the steeps on offer at places like St Anton, Las Lenas or Jackson Hole. We really are keen to get an internationally diverse bunch of keen riders at Gulmarg this coming winter, for the inaugural snow season of the finished gondola!

With no material number of local riders (yet), riding in Gulmarg in 2006 is the nearest any of us are ever to an in-bound resort equivalent of heliskiing - unlimited untracked on offer!

Kind regards to all,
Powdercat

WWW.SKIHIMALAYA.COM
post #2 of 11
This is cool. I may try it. Not this winter though. Keep us informed on how your operation is progressing. I would be most concerned about the quality of ski lifts. How old are they. Who maintains it? is it the indian govt or some private company.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Marty

The Gondola is Poma designed with all construction overseen by engineers from Poma. Stage one of the gondola (2,650 to 3,050 metres) was finished in late 1998 - I rode it for the first time in January 1999.

Stage two of the gondola has been delayed, but was constructed over the last two years. It is a brand new gondola running from 3,050 to 3,980 metres. The gondola is operated by the Jammu & Kashmir State Government, but their own staff are qualified engineers. I know the senior engineers personally and they are very responsible people.

Any questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Powdercat
post #4 of 11
Sounds like a very exciting adventure, but lets keep the numbers in perspective. The vertical provided by that one lift at a mostly undeveloped resort does not surpass the vertical offered by the lift system at Snowmass(4406 vertical ft.). ...I doubt many adventurers will opt for skiing a one lift area with only a couple of hundred extra feet of vertical than Jackson Hole or Kicking Horse(4373 vs 4140), and ten thousand miles away!

Good Luck to those who do opt for this 'Once in a Lifetime' adventure!
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Feallen

Powdercat here.

I've skied both Jackson and Snowmass although not Kicking Horse.

The immediate advantage of Gulmarg over these resorts is that there is no sizeable local rider population. Rider density at Gulmarg, at least for next year's opening winter season, can realistically be expected to compare with the rider density at major heli-operations.

A better picture would be of a Jackson Hole where you can ski for a good mile or so to both "left & right" of the top of the tram, before descending the mountain. Gulmarg has far more extensive terrain skiable from the gondola than would be possible if you simple looked at the terrain which is accessible from either Jackson's or Snowbird's trams. I think it is fair to say that in both cases those lifts more or less sum up the riding on offer at those locations!

Also, it is possible in the right conditions to descend over 1700 vertical metres to the valley floor, though this is recommended only for advanced riders with a guide.

IMHO, Gulmarg is going to be one of the biggest names in winter sports before too long...

Hope this helps...
Powdercat
post #6 of 11
I suspect Las Lenas is a good analogy. Vast off-piste. No local powderhounds. Similar questions of how often will the big lift be able to operate, and how often will its terrain be safe to ski? I saw last year's weather stats on the website, but do we know what typical winter precip is? The mountaineering peaks of the Himalaya are climbed in normally dry April-June because the Indian monsoon season is July-October. Why would Gulmarg have different wet/dry seasons vs. the rest of India and Nepal?

We won't know the answers to these questions until it's been operating a few years. But Gulmarg now makes the list of "I've got to try that sometime."
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Tony

In actual fact Kashmir in the Western Himalayas does have a different cycle to the Eastern Himalayas. The east is quite dry in winter, whereas winter and spring are the heaviest months in Kashmir for precipitation.

I have just tried to copy my "monthly bar chart" (which we did not in the end include in the site) but cannot seem to paste it into this post. Let me know if you'd like me to email it to you. It's based on 50 year recorded data for Srinagar. It's obviously only a proxy for what happens at Gulmarg, but probably a reasonable one.

Cheers
Powdercat
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
PS

Re Las Lenas analogy - agree!

But stretch Las Lenas a few kilometres along the top, add forested runs lower down, plus adventure off-psite falling further below the resort, plus more regular snow, and you do have a very good picture indeed!

PC
post #9 of 11
Now that would be an interesting alternative for my summer ski trip.....certainly not an area I had even considered before but could be tempting.
post #10 of 11
dang... you kiwis have the right summer vacation time for enjoying gulmarg. I am a teacher and there's no way I can ever go to such a beautiful place.

That place looks like a Randonee Dream. Endless opportunities. Cultural experience.
post #11 of 11
Yes, I suspect Gulmarg will be most attractive to Aussie and Kiwi skiers, due to distance and being their off-season.

For North Americans, the formidable transportation expenses will make Gulmarg fall between snowcat and heliskiing in overall cost, and during a prime part of the local ski season. For Europeans La Grave and Alagna might be close and much cheaper analogies.

So for us it works only as an overall cultural experience, one week out of a 2+ week trip to explore that part of the world. But it now seems worthwhile to time such a trip to Gulmarg's season.
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