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Gulmarg, Kashmir

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
The trip to Gulmarg (Kashmir, India) was fantastic; and in so many different ways - the people, the culture, the places, breathtaking views and on top of that some pretty incredible skiing.

India and Kashmir are an assault on the senses. Some people are comfortable with that and some are not. Poverty and sickness are everywhere, so delicate souls should think carefully before going there.

Common sayings - "This is not possible" and “Maybe tomorrow”. Things happen that should not happen and visa versa; and things move at their own pace and that pace can rarely be forced. India has invented the eighth day of the week, it’s called “Someday”, it’s the day of the week when things might happen. Be cool, chill out and don’t get upset and show some restraint as you may get offended if you end up with an AK47 in your face.

Go with an open mind and no expectations, that way you will be surprised by the things that happen and will not be disappointed by the things that should but don’t happen.

The skiing and the mountain – skiing/boarding in Gulmarg is either for beginners (the golf course slopes) or experts. Currently there is nothing in between. Other than the golf course and the lower mountain cat track there is no on-piste skiing. To ski Gulmarg you must be comfortable skiing ungroomed snow. One of the best descriptions of the mountain I heard was that it was like lift accessed heli-skiing. Also bring your hiking legs as runs skiers left may require some hiking to get to while runs skiers right may require a hike to get out of and if stage 2 gondola is not working (and it was closed for 5 days of our 2 weeks), you will have to hike to get any decent runs. Generally the first stage of the gondola was not worth skiing.

A good day had fresh snow, all lifts working and opening on time, beer available at night, hot water, no power outages, a good meal (without Delhi belly) and a warm clean bed at night. Generally several of these elements will be missing.

Unfortunately my skiing experience became limited to about a dozen runs down gondola bowl after bruising my lower back with a back slam worthy of a wrestler in the WWE on the first day. The Kashmiri doctor who examined and x-rayed my back said no activity for 2-3 weeks. I said okay, but how soon can I go skiing again.

Our accommodation, Pine Palace 2 was warm, comfortable, had good food and the staff, especially Nisad, were very friendly and helpful. Indian/Kashmiri building standards do, however, leave a lot to be desired. So be prepared for less than stellar plumbing, dodgy electricals and semi glazed windows with the thinnest glass known to mankind.

A night on a house boat on Lake Dal in Srinigar was a great way to wind down after two weeks in the mountains.

Currently Gulmarg is a ski-bum’s paradise. This will change over the next coupe of years as hotels go more upmarket and the mooted chair lift creates some intermediate skiing. I’m glad I went; it was a fantastic trip, even if for me the skiing wasn’t stellar. We met some really great people – the Helsinki Cowboys were a hoot and I’m looking forward to seeing their photos and video. I would also go back despite the difficulties in getting there (three flights each way, the security and suicidal drivers on dodgy roads), although not for a few years as I have a few other destinations to get to.

View of Himalayas from plane on flight from Delhi to Srinigar

Break in Tanmarg to fit chains

Waiting in car par for traffic jam to clear

First view of the mountain

Nanga Parbat, 8,126 metres (14th highest mountain in World).

View of hill from village

Places to be avoided

What crowds? Busy during the Winter Games.

Hindu temple on golf course

All you clothing needs

Ice hockey - Kashmir style

Yes we have fresh snow, can it stop now?

View from the golf course

Crew getting ready to head out

No stage 2 gondola, so you hike

Waiting for go

Mountain safety crew clearing gondola bowl

Cat track home (or intermediate terrain)

Health and safety is taken seriously

As is on field behaviour (cricketers could learn from this)

View heading up stage 1

View looking up chute 1 gondola bowl

View looking down gondola bowl (with avy bomb marks)

There are some steeps (and steeper)

Hike to the top (Altitude 4,124 metres)

A couple of boarders getting ready to drop into cute 3 skiers left - note slight breeze (wind chill -40C?)

Relaxing after all the hard work

The ride to the top

Lake Dal

Houseboat interior



In all, an excellent trip. Now to plan for next year's adveture.
post #2 of 25
Excellent TR. couple of questions.
were the gondola's closed because of mechanical failures or wind/snow conditions?

also how much hiking is involved in 2nd stage?
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Marty, the gondola can be closed for a variety of reasons. Mechanial failure (as happened during the 2006/07 season) can close the gondola for a week or more as technicians and parts have to come from Pomagalski in France. A storm will generally not close the lift as such, but the gondola will be closed untill the mountain safety crew deem the mountain safe to ski.

The Jammu and Kashmir government is very sensitive about skier safety. In previous years all avalanche control was done manually (ski cuts etc). For the 2007/08 season, the Indian Army is providing exposives. To be granted permission to use explosives in Kasmir is a huge achievement, especially with terrorist activity in the past by Kasmiri sepratists and the proximity of Gulmarg to the disputed Line of Control with Pakistan (less than 20km away). However, the supply of explosives can be erratic at times and so as not to upset the hard won arrangement with the Army, no manual avalanche control is taking place. So if the explosives don't turn up (as occurred on two consecutive days), the stage 2 (upper) gondola will not run, even if the mountain is probably safe to ski. Frustrating? Yes, but this is India.

Second stage hiking. If the second stage of the gondola is closed, the summit can be hiked/skinned in around two hours. Hikes to ski lines from the summit may be from a couple of minutes to half an hour. By hiking, fresh tracks can usually be found for days after a fall.

Some hiking out may be involved if skiing lines skiers right from the summit. This is entirely dependent on how far down the face of Mt Apharwat on skis before traversing back to the base of stage 2.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
A link here to some of the excellent photos taken by the Helsinki Cowboys:

post #5 of 25
Very excellent TR, thanks for posting.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Particularly liked these two photos. Skiers are in there, sort of you fall you die.

post #7 of 25

Gulmarg '07/08

Hi Taxman,
Thanks for sharing your TR. It's a great read - accurate (except Nanga Parbat is the 9th highest peak) and informative.

Just wanted to share with you and your readers some additional information about Gulmarg. I have been writing a blog - Gulmarg '07/08 - about my trip (I was there at the same time as you). I have included a lot of additional information that can be handy for anyone planning a trip to this excellent destination.

I also must recommend the most recent TR's on the TGR Forum that have been posted mc_roon - excellent!

Going back next year for January and February - can't wait! :

Blog: Gulmarg '07/08
TR: Gulmarg 2008 TR (1/3)
TR: Gulmarg 2008 TR (1/3)

Photo credit: John C.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by myhouseinpanama View Post
..... accurate (except Nanga Parbat is the 9th highest peak) and informative.

Oops... Poor Wikipedia skiils. 9th highest in elevation and 14h tallest base to summit.

Thanks for posting a link to your blog, some excellent stuff there, plus some links to other's reports, including people who I met for slide with whilst there.
post #9 of 25
Very, very cool. I liked what you had to say about India as a place. I have yet to go, but my FIL (doctor) and SIL (med student) do relief medicine work in the remote areas of the Himalayas. They love the country and all of its quirks, but they also say it is definitely not for the faint of heart. . . but that the mountains are beyond gorgeous.

And they are. Excellent trip, looks like.
post #10 of 25


Originally Posted by Taxman View Post
Oops... Poor Wikipedia skiils. 9th highest in elevation and 14h tallest base to summit.

Thanks for posting a link to your blog, some excellent stuff there, plus some links to other's reports, including people who I met for slide with whilst there.
Taxman: Not nit-picking your post - really! Great job on the TR.
Had to include this, the last installment of a great TR at TGR:

Gulmarg 2008 TR (3/3)

Gulmarg '07/08

Snowboarding Gulmarg

post #11 of 25
What a TR - breathtaking in more ways than one (no air up there . Thanks much!
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Looks like 2009's adventure will also be pretty good - Hiking in Patagonia in January and then a real third world adventure, skiing in Tahoe in February. Ski season starts here in Oz in about 5 weeks time so not long before I drag the skis out again.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Nice TR and TGR as well.
post #14 of 25
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Just a reminder for anyone considering heading to Kashmir that things are not yet all right. From a thread on another site:

Originally Posted by Taxman
Originally Posted by Heinz
Not good news. Sounds like Bashir from Ski Himalaya may have been one of those injured (unless it's someone else by the same name).
Gulmarg blast:
A tourist and a civilian were killed and four others were injured in a grenade blast in the famous ski-resort Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Varmul district.
Altaf Baba reports from Varmul: Unidentified persons hurled a grenade near the Gulmarg Sumo stand at 5 pm killing a tourist, Ashok Kumar son of Ram Shanker of UP on the spot and critically injuring four persons. A boy identified as Muhammad Yousuf son of Jalaluddin of Baba Reshi succumbed to his injuries on way to the hospital.
Other injured were identified as Joginder Swami of UP, Bashir Ahmad son of Muhammad Sadiq of Sopur, Parvaiz Ahmad son of Muhammad Maqbool of Chandusa Tangmarg and Tahir Ahmad son of Muhammad Khalil of Sopur.
Nobody had claimed responsibility for the attack till this report was filed.
Very sad to hear. Should PM Peter and find out if he has any news.
post #16 of 25
Very cool TR, Taxman. Thanks for sharing. Looks a little spooky but intriguing. I doubt my wife would let me pull the trigger on one like that.
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Probably why I now have an ex
post #18 of 25


post #19 of 25
And I thought our trip to Chile was exotic. This trip is beyond my wildest dreams of exotic, seems like a Warren Miller excursion. Thanks for posting; love the pictures.
post #20 of 25
Originally Posted by Taxman View Post
Probably why I now have an ex
Love the TR!
The only way I'd be your EX is if you refused to drag my butt on those kind of trips!
post #21 of 25
Thanks! That is a great TR, but I bet you haven't crossed the Nullarbor Plains by boat in 3 days like I did in 1990. (I only say this because you are from down under)
post #22 of 25
A customer of mine headed out to Gulmarg a couple of days ago as he's recently set up this business:
post #23 of 25

Gulmarg: Warren Miller Expedition

Originally Posted by skibum4ever View Post
And I thought our trip to Chile was exotic. This trip is beyond my wildest dreams of exotic, seems like a Warren Miller excursion.
It actually was...a Warren Miller Expedition to Gulmarg (2006).

GULMARG '08/09
GULMARG '07/08
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
More Gulmarg related news, good to hear that Dave Watson (and the rest of the team), who was in charge of mountain safety, has returned safely from the K2 Tall Mountain Expedition. Blog link:

post #25 of 25

...Great stuff!

VERY nice stuff Taxman...(& myhouse). Beautiful terrain.
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