Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:55 am Posts: 117 Location: London/Berlin
I finally got my dream of becoming a snowboard bum going by coming in this beautiful place for a month! I tried for several months with no luck to hook with somebody, which didn't happen in the end, so here I am all by myself.
This is all the stuff I took with me. 44kg. And I fancy myself a weight weenie...
Somehow I was able to fit it in
15 hours of flight and 10000kms later I was flying over the outskirts of the Himalayas!
First impressions of India - heavy military! There is a machine gun point at the terminal in Delhi airport and TONS of military in Srinagar. More AK-47s than stray dogs.
Then you get on this 2-3 hour drive with a 2 wheel drive Tata, which often has a chain only on the rear left tire! During a storm after a period of good weather the Indians/Kashmiri (and there is a difference) are slow to respond with cleaning and also that's the moment when the high mountain closes and everybody is riding below tree line and getting back to Gulmarg via the same road with the same Tatas. You can easily get 50+ cars going up and down this 10km road at the same time, leading to all this crazy situations...
More on that later.
Finally! At the destination! Gulmarg!
25+ blows with the Gondola dropping you in the middle of the ridge line. The longest ones have 2000m (6500 feet!) of descent!
I arrived for the last 3 days of a bluebird
Before the big storm!
The random number generator got it all wrong. At the end of the snow storm we were standing at measured 215cm of fresh snow!
A column test just before the storm, right below the top. Gosh, it's hard digging at 4000m, after you have spent the last several months at ~30m above sea level in London/Berlin..
Storms here close the gondola. Lot's of people think it's because technical problems, the Indians and their slow response to anything... In reality gondola availability is at the mercy of the avalanche safety officer... One week of snowing means ~10 days of no gondola - during and sometime after the storm.
It's good to mention something about climate here - the place is both a lot closer to the equator than the regular northern hemisphere places and is high - the Gulmarg village is at 2600-2700m, end of Phase 1 of the gondola is at ~3070m, end of Phase 2 is at ~4000m the peak is at ~4200m. It is also well protected from the bigger himalayan ranges. All this leads to a situation where above 3000m it's cold -2C, -5C, -10C, but the Sun, ohh the sun. It's the enemy number one of all the snow below 3000m. When it's snow storm, you want it snow storm - thick clouds and no bluebirds... Everything the Sun touches below 3000m turns into crust. So the week of snow is the only opportunity to do big powder tree runs. From Gulmarg you go to this important muslim shrine - Baba Reshi, where the Tata jeeps pick you up back to Gulmarg. With 40-50-60cm/night of snow it doesn't stop to amaze!
This went for about 8 days and then the storm finally ended:
Which opened the higher mountain!
But more on that later (:
_________________ Looking for partner for Chile & Argentina from 10th August to 10th September 2014Topic
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:45 am Posts: 37 Location: Revelstoke, BC
Great Photos. I love that place. Thinking about going back but not seriously. However if anyone is going and wants some connections for some split-boarders there with more knowledge than some of the 'guides' there. PM me.