Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Skinning out to ‘Great White’ in Gulmarg, Kashmir

With a beautiful weather window in Gulmarg, Kashmir after 60-70cms of snow there were some tired bodies but some great weather to again get motivated for. After peeps rested a day or two it was time to make the most of the gorgeous sunny weather and great snow above 3000m. The kiwi boys were keen to head out past the ‘Shark’s Fin’ and hit a beautiful summit called ‘Big White’ following the sharky references. We headed up the gomdola and started skinning from behind G4 heading across the slope cutting off the Apherwat summit aiming directly for the ‘Great White’ summit! We headed out into the beautiful back bowl amongst huge puffy cumulus clouds looking over to Sunshine Peak. We stopped at a beautiful quartzite rock and stripped off the shirts and did a little sunbathing as it was beautifully still and warm even up at over 4000m. Pressing on we zigged and zagged our way up reaching the ‘Great White’ summit and checking out the lush powder holding onto the 40-45 degree slope below.

Once the group had gathered, a small chai stop and we geared on up. I decided to line up a perfectly formed ledge on the cornice bordering the whole slope and huck my meat. Especially as the snowpack had been stable for some time! I lined it up and cruised down the ridge line with anticipation of a nice air into a beautiful open bowl. I swung left and hit the launch pad and actually find the lip boasting me more than I thought as I fly through the air the slope keeps dropping away as my air time is extended! Unfortunately I get aways back and hit it like a bombshell. Of course hucking your carcass off a cornice in the backcountry must be done when the snowpack is stable which it was and after bombing my full weight into it evidenced this. I bounce back up and get into my turns slashing the ridge in the deep 50-60cms of sweet sweet pow, cutting under the ridge and heading down into the flat of the bowl. Now it was Ted’s turn who hurtles into the bowl skier’s right of the summit and straight lines hitting a small cliff, launching & landing, hitting big GS turns on the way out – sweet line. Scotty decided to run it through the middle of 2 rock lines in which it steepens, he drops it and slashes the ridge below soaking up the good times. Kerry was next and we directed him by radio to ski the line skier’s left of me as it was a beautiful fall line that looked nicely loaded with the sick stuff. He dropped in at the small point of the cornice traversing across a little to hit the planned fall line cruisng big laid back turns into the bowl to oomplete 4 epic lines!

We headed across the flats swinging skier’s right to cut across the low col at the end of the Shark’s Fin bowl aiming to return to the ridge where bowl 5 is and return to Gulmarg. Skiing down in the setting sun we arrived at Hill Top restaurant for burgers and coke - what a great day touring out back and scoring the goods!

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