Gulmarg week 1

2013-02-05 at Gulmarg (2) 1.2 metres of snow made for a great first week

Gulmarg is situated about 60 km from Srinagar and the village is around 2700m ASL. It is a busy summer tourist attraction for Indians. In winter it is a popular destination with foreign skiers with (I would estimate) about 500 keen skiers here and maybe 250 being Russian and the rest from almost every country that has snow. This makes it a very different ski resort as there is such a diverse group and most keen to hike and get there fat skis or maybe split snowboards into some fresh powder. The emphasis is definately on quality not quantity with often only one or two runs done in a day. The lift organisation is also something unique. Patience is essential as long queues and poor organisation are the order of the day.
The snow is a little wetter than I expected, not champagne powder but there is plenty of it and with only 500 riders and the high elevation there are some almost untouched fantastic runs. The inbound ski area is very small but with an open boundary policy there is plenty of “back-country”. The problem there is the ever present risk of avalanches. This is not something to be taken lightly and we have a guide (Majid) with the two of us 6 days a week. He is a local with plenty of experience. After the storm we had on Monday and Tuesday the avalanche danger was quite high. On Monday we skied “The trees” from Gulmarg village down to the next village “Tangmarg” and although the snow was heavy (wet) it wa a great start. Tuesday they opened the first phase of the Gondola which gave us 400m of vertical and a great start. Wdnesday when the storm stopped they opened the chair lift which was another 445m and finally Thursday the to phase of the Gondola was opened adding 900m of vertical taking us to nearly 4000m. Some Gulmarg statistics are here


SUNDAY: Day 1: sunny: 4 runs on Gondola 1st phase = 1600m vertical

MONDAY: Day 2: snowing: (descent 1250)
As it was snowing heavily and about 60cm had fallen overnight the Gondola was closed so we did a run from the village of Gulmarg to Tangmarg then after a slow drive back to Gulmarg we did a run to the Barbarashi Road. Although it was 4pm by the time we got back to Gulmarg we got a late run down to Tangmarg. Annette did not take the final run as she had found the going tough and the snow was heavy (wet).

TUESDAY: Day 3: snowing (descent 2000 m)
Only the first phase of the Gondola was open so we did 5 runs (costing about AU$14)

WEDNESDAY: Day 4: (3,350 m)
About noon they opened the Chair Lift which added nearly 450m of descent. We had bought a day pass on the first stage which at 750 rupee so needed 5 runs to break even which we just managed.. total cost for day 1350 or about AU$ 25.

THURSDAY: Day 5: (3200m)
The Gondola second stage opened for the first time after the storm earlier in the week so there were huge queues. We waited over an hour for our first 2 runs on the second stage and about 30 minutes for our third run which we went firstly back to our hotel. The snow was mostly untracked and awesome fun.

FRIDAY: Day 6 (3500 m)
We did two runs from the top station to mid station and then on the third run we went out to the far skier’s left and went down to Drung a total descent of over 1700m from 3,900 to 2,200.

SATURDAY: Day 7 (3600 m)
We hiked to the top of Mount Apharwat: 4120m to the skiers left and skied down beside the lake with a great view of Shark Fin peak . We skied all the way to our hotel at about 2700m so a descent of 1420m. I think we went down Khilanmarg Bowl 1. After saying goodbye to our guide at our hotel we went back to the Gondola and went to the top station for a run down the Gondola Bowl then Annette waited at the outdoor Restaurants while I did a last run down Saffron Bowl.