Gulmarg - Himalaya’s First Major Ski Resort
India isn’t an obvious destination for skiing but there has been a resort at Gulmarg since the days of the British Raj and despite a recent earthquake and a low-level war between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir province the resort is once again attracting interest from tourists. The reason? Skiing costs just a quarter of what it does in the Alps and the French firm of Pomagalski has just completed the world’s highest Gondola lift.
Gulmarg is at the western end of the Himalayas in a subsidiary range called the Pir Panjal and close to Nanga Parbat. Pomagalski constructed a six seater gondola lift from the village at 2,600 meters to the Seven Sources at the top of the tree line at 3,200 meters. However due to the war with Pakistan work on a second stage to 3,992 meters on the Apharwat Mountain (4,390 m.) was never completed. The first section was known as the “lift to nowhere” by some of the few Western visitors who traveled to the resort. Skiers had to pole across a plateau to reach the slopes.
Now with relations between India and Pakistan thawing, a cross border bus service opened in 2005, JKSCC, the company that runs Gulmarg asked Pomagalski to complete the project. No mean feat for the French firm but using local workers, mules and a flexible view to project management the second stage has now been completed. This gives access to a further 500 hectares of ski terrain and more vertical than any lift in the USA. The 2.65 km extension cost around 2M€.
The main ski season starts in January and ends in mid April but it is possible to ski from the beginning of December to the end of May on the second section of the Gondola. There are no man made runs, no trees have been cut or pistes gouged out of rock. It is a kind of Kashmiri la Grave. If you want to get a taste of what Gulmarg has to offer Teton Gravity Research’s Tangerine Dream features lots of footage from the area.
Gulmarg from Google Earth
An international team of ski patrollers is training Gulmarg’s twenty strong ski patrol formed from local skiers. The trainees have been working on powder skiing, first aid and avalanche rescue. The India army is providing avalanche control on the upper slopes.
A weekly lift pass is around 70 € for the bottom sector and 100 € for the whole mountain. The ski patrol are equipped with avalanche beacons so think about taking your usual off-piste gear if you visit the resort including climbing skins if you want to go to the summit of Mt Apharwat.
Probably the best way for most visitors to taste the delights of Gulmarg is with an organized trip. [url=http://www.skihimalaya.com]http://www.skihimalaya.com[/url] is now taking bookings for the 2006/07 winter.
Prices for our regular 15 night itinerary start at US$960 per person and include:
- centrally heated ski-to-gondola twin or double share accommodation
- overnight accommodation in Delhi and Srinagar
- most meals
- transfers between Srinagar and Gulmarg
Prices for our 12 night “New Year” itinerary start at US$805 per person.
Prices for two weeks of guiding with Ski Himalaya’s Kashmir Powdercats is US$500. The Powdercats provide guests with local transport and guiding. Our Powdercat drivers and guides are local Kashmiris who have grown up in the area and include former Indian and Kashmir state ski-racing champions.
Whatever the weather, riding with the Kashmir Powdercats means you’ll make the most of the incredible snow riding on offer during your stay in Gulmarg. Our road transport multiplies your access to powder terrain. In good weather, we focus on the gondola’s high alpine terrain, including classic descents in excess of 1750 vertical metres from Mt Apharwat to the valley. In bad weather, we focus on the magnificent forest glades falling from Gulmarg to the valley.
Further information on Gulmarg
Heliskiing in Kashmir
Posted by on Saturday, 22 July, 2006 at 06:12 AM
Gulmarg is simply heaven for Skining. It has not been showcased. Due to this lot of people stil not aware about it. By the way nice post.
Posted by on Saturday, 10 October, 2009 at 08:30 AM
Backcountry avalanche advisory, maps, objective information available at http://gulmargsnowsafety.com/
Posted by on Monday, 05 April, 2010 at 01:16 PM
Thanks for the update Brian. I will have to fix the images.
Posted by davidof
on Tuesday, 06 April, 2010 at 12:18 AM
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