Gulmarg Backcountry Skiing

SAMPLE 8 DAY ITINERARY

 Click map to expand and navigate

Day

 

1

Arrive Srinagar, transfer to Gulmarg, avalanche rescue practice, short ski tour if possible

2

Ski tour to top of Gondola

3

Ski Tour down Drang Valley (10-15kms), ski through Drang Village, play with kids, ski to Tangmarg, late lunch, taxi back to Gulmarg

4

Ski the Baba Rishi Trees below Gulmarg Township, use taxi back to top of run

5

Gondola mid-station tour and/or Monkey Hill

Ski tour to top of Gondola

7

Ski tour to top of Gondola

8

Ski tour to top of Gondola
Transfer to Srinagar House Boat in the afternoon, dinner, trip ends, (accommodation included), taxi to airport booked by houseboat manager

SAMPLE 12 DAY ITINERARY

Day

 

1

Arrive Srinagar, transfer to Gulmarg, avalanche rescue practice, short ski tour if possible

2

Ski tour to top of Gondola

3

Ski Tour down Drang Valley (10-15kms), ski through Drang Village, play with kids, ski to Tangmarg, late lunch, taxi back to Gulmarg

4

Ski the Baba Rishi Trees below Gulmarg Township, use taxi back to top of run

5

Gondola mid-station tour and/or Monkey Hill

6

Ski tour to top of Gondola

7

Ski tour to top of Gondola

8

Ski tour to top of Gondola

9

Ski tour to top of Gondola

10

Helicopter to Triple Peak, alpine ski tour, ski down to Tangmarg and taxi back to Gulmarg

11

Gondola mid-station tour, Monkey Hill

12

Ski tour, transfer to Srinagar House Boat, dinner, trip ends, (accommodation included), taxi to airport booked by houseboat manager

TRIP OUTLINE

You will be met on arrival into Srinagar airport by our Kashmiri driver and driven 60km to Gulmarg (about 2hrs). Your guide/s will meet you at the hotel for an introduction to the area which also provides an opportunity to check each member's personal equipment. We aim to do an initial avalanche rescue training session on the first afternoon/evening so we are ready to ski the next morning.

On the day following your arrival, we will go skiing. The route options depend on avalanche danger, weather and gondola status but there are four distinct areas we will explore. They can roughly be segregated into Barbarishi Trees, Monkey Hill, gondola mid-station and gondola top.

Gondola Top: With the claim of 'The World's Highest Gondola', finished in 2005 with its massive vertical drop of 1,500m, descending down through vast alpine bowls and then into perfectly spaced trees it is becoming a mecca for adventurous ski and snowboard touring. When the top stage is open we will usually use it to access the best skiing and most vast touring available. We could ski from the top every day of the 12-day trip and never repeat a run. The ski resort does avalanche control work and patrols the ski resort bowl called Gondola Bowl, right under the gondola. The rest of the terrain is backcountry and decisions about routes and avalanche safety are vital. This is the responsibility of your guide but they will involve you in the decision-making process.

Gondola Mid-station: The mid-station is about 400m above the town and operates in all but the worse weather. We will use it to gain some height and do some interesting runs like the half day trip down the Drang Valley. It’s a 10-15kms ski down the valley ending in the town of Tangmarg and visiting Drang Village along the way, skiing through the roadless village where the friendly kids run out to play on the back of our skis. The Kashmiri people are very friendly and curious at our skiing antics. They often stare and smile as we pass.

Baba Rishi Trees: On stormy days, when there’s over 30-50cms of snow in Gulmarg we will consider renting a taxi for the day to ski the Baba Rishi Trees. The taxi drops us at the top, we ski the approximate 400-500m vertical tree run while the taxi drives around to pick us up at the bottom for another lap.

Monkey Hill: This 250-300m high hill is right behind the town and there’s a well-used boot/skin track up to the summit. Then there are 360 degrees of options open to us to ski down either to the Gulmarg access road or back to town. When it’s really storming and the roads are chaos this is a great day touring and a perfect place for avalanche workshops.

The touring days are moderately strenuous and involve skinning for between 2 and 3 hours duration with plenty of scenic places to stop along the way.

There is the minor issue of altitude most people will feel at the start of the trip. Gulmarg town is low enough (about 2,500m) and you may just notice weird dreams and mild headaches. But the top of the peaks are over 4,000m and on your first few trips to the summits, you’ll feel a little short of breath. But not to worry, once you descend you quickly recover and each time you go up it gets better and better.

People on the 12-day programme get an added bonus, a helicopter lift to a more remote basin. We will fly up to the nearby Triple Peak area using the local Kashmir heli-ski machines and tour for the day, exploring the high alpine region, eventually dropping into the Drang Valley, down to Tangmarg.

GULMARG TOWN

Situated right at the very top of India in the region called Kashmir is the beautiful village of Gulmarg. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. The state is now much bigger and has borders with Afghanistan, China and Pakistan. The town has about 30 hotels, an ATM (not always reliable), gift shops and confectionery shops.

 

Photos

 Walking back up to Gulmarg after skiing down to the road from Monkey Hill

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