Monday, 17 January 2011
Snow arrives in Gulmarg, Kashmir – finally ;-)
Finally 60-70cms of snow arrived in Gulmarg, Kashmir on 13th & 14th January with it clearing for two superb bluebird powder days on the 15th & 16th!
Before this dump it was pretty damn slim pickings, with a 60cm fall around the 2nd of Jan which fell on NO base, before this the only fall was back in November which had left little reminence of anything.
So it was finally game-on with Sunstone client Bryan Morris using some of the skinning skills we’d practiced on Mary’s Shoulder alongside some crucial avalanche training previous to the big dump arriving. With the recent snowfall Bryan Newman (Avalanche Forecaster) had made it clear that it was falling onto a ‘rotten’ snowpack’ and in reality we needed a really big, heavy snowfall to ‘flush out’ this predominant weak layer. In essence this hasn’t happened but after avalanche control work, bombing the Main Bowl there were no controlled releases as we skied across dirty bomb pits in beautiful waist deep powder. There has been some signs of activity with the slope opposite Mary’s Shoulder (below the gondola, 100m from start of the mid-station) sliding and South-West face of the Main Bowl below Army Ridge ripping out also. Avalanche advice is ‘High Risk’ for the Alpine Areas and ‘Moderate Risk’ for Below Tree Line'.
A gorgeous couple of bluebird days, firstly ‘Skinning the Monkey’ doing laps on Monkey Hill with all the skiers with Alpine Touring gear contributing to a couple of superb skin tracks making for lovely ascents up through the forest. The next day, again was a lovely start skinning up the Monkey Hill ridge from the Police Station and dropping in a steep & deep line – a great way to make your way from the market to the gondola. Once at the gondola we hooked up with Mad South African Sean for a couple of laps on Phase 1, some nice turns down the ‘shirt-front’ and some wiggling down some gullies milking the mellow but fun fresh pow pow. Rumours were aghast that Phase 2 would indeed open for 2pm, we weren’t holding our breaths but as always in Gulmarg you have to ‘hedge your bets’ and hang around on the off chance. After lunch it seemed it wouldn’t run but the sounds of the bomb squad doing their thang sounded promising. Bryan Newman always tries hard to at least get it open late for 1 or 2 golden runs and after another quick run on Phase 1 the call was ‘OPEN’. The few who had the tenacity and/or patience to hang around were rewarded with sweet waist deep powder in perfect visibility and calm conditions!
Bryan (Sunstone Client) was stoked and we both thanked the Newman for getting it open and finally getting at it. Down for a beer in the sun at the market and a great feed of butter chicken, garlic naan, Ginger/Garlic Chicken with mixed Vege and a few yarns from sean washed down by some Kingfisher Premium finished off a superb varied day. The season has officially opened and another huge storm forecast for Friday could bring more epicness! Sweet as :-):-):-)