Friday, 19 February 2010

3 days of epic powder at Gulmarg, Kashmir!

After snowing for nearly 2 weeks I was seriously starting to lack vitamin D and needed a sound dosing of sunshine! The Gulmarg snow safety team planned to get an early start and avalanche control work underway in the morning, but as per usual it was contingent on the military delivering the explosives. They arrived late and bombing didn’t start until late morning and after some waiting we finally got the green light at 2.30pm as the sun was shining. As a season’s pass holder I was lucky to be able to go straight to the front after a lie in, and skinning up monkey hill from the police station it was poised to go off. The first gondola delivered us to nearly 4000m and we could see the acres of fresh light powder in the shadowy light, as it licked off from a light breeze, completely untouched and ready for us to purge. I hit the steep fall line leading me into the gun barrel and it was deep 60-70cms of pure smoke – the lightest powder we’ve had this season! What a run and with closing time normally 3pm the Gulmarg snow safety team did a great job, with plenty of sunshine left in the day, to keep the gondola open until after 4pm. I managed to get in 2 more sweet sweet runs into 2nd bowl which were steep and deep, some of the best powder I’ve skied in my life and a just reward for putting up with power outages, no internet, blocked water pipes and backeris over 2 weeks and we finally got what we were all waiting for – Super Pow!

Day 2 I was guiding Swiss clients Jerome and Laura – ex ski instructors from Champrey and really expert skiers – the perfect clients to go rip fresh lines with. We hit the ‘Shadowlands’ nailing 4 runs before lunch, including our first run in 4th bowl completely to ourselves then onto Shaggy’s face. Shaggy’s face is named after an Australian guy ‘Shaggy’ tragically lost his life on this face in 2007 being caught in an avalanche and dieing due to trauma. It’s a steep face that gets lots of loading and gets great north-facing snow. After lunch we hit the summit, to Laura’s delight, traversing behind the ridge to 5th bowl (skier’s left) and again not too many tracks down there, skiing the bowl fall line getting it fresh. Laura and Jerome were cranking turns and for the second time Jerome, pulled a front flip within his turn (not hitting any lip) and kept on skiing – just brilliant! Down to their hotel for a well deserved beer - what an epic day!

Day 3 I went riding with the kiwi boys and skinned in behind the Apherwat summit going direct to the Shark’s Fin Col. Kerry and Scotty dropped the bowl, while Ted and I climbed to the summit and headed down the ridge to the ‘Bananna Chute’. A very steep 50-55 degrees colouir that is rock walled and needing full commitment. We had a great ski and skinned up to the ridge making our way over to 6th bowl (skier’s left). We climbed through the rocks to access a chute in between 5th & 6th that leads back into 5th bowl and it was super light powder - again. We traversed across skier’s left getting absolutely primo and just let it rip all the way down into the forest coming out above the High Altitiude Warfare School, where they had set up camp with igloos, little pine huts and snow made pot plants. Gulmarg always seems to come up with little surprises!


  1. wish we had some snow our way...low snow year...late start...wishing I could get out of the country to ski.

  2. Yep it was a slow start here too in Gulmarg for Jan but Feb and March have hit their straps with even more snow on the way now - yee haa!