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Thread: Gulmarg TR (3/3)
04-14-2008, 06:57 PM #1
Gulmarg TR (3/3)
Gulmarg TR (3/3) – When it Goes Blue
(or the one you’ve been waiting for)
This is a VERY long TR – but there are plenty of pictures
I managed to time my trip so I flew in 3 days after a massive storm in the middle of nightly flurries that would drop 10-25cm at a time. Three days later when I finally came up for air, my first words to soul_skier were, “get here yesterday, this place is the definition of sickness.” 7 weeks later as I left Kashmir to rejoin the real world Gulmarg was still the definition of sickness; the more you explore it the more it has to offer. By far the best ski trip of my life so far.
Gulmarg is one gigantic ridgeline facing almost due north-east. The first stage of the gondola loads at 3000m and 25 minutes later(hopefully) you unload from the top of the second stage just shy of 4000m. 3300ft of bliss awaits you. If that’s not enough, you can drop far left and end up in Drang over 6000ft later.
Storms moved through at a regular basis while I was there, apparently this is normal for the area. Weather prediction for the area is existent and accurate for storms, but grossly underreports snowfall totals. When these storms roll in they do with force, snowing an inch an hour for days at a time. When you wake up in the morning @9000ft and there is 3feet of blower pow outside you can’t help but grin at the amount of snow that will be waiting for you at 4000m up on top of the peak. These massive storms usually have a fair amount of wind which causes almost every aspect to slide during the storm but leave behind creamy wind-buff of the perfect kind. One problem with the area is there is a tendancy for heavy clouds to move from the valley up the mountain later in the day. This meant on several occasions it was bluebird in the morning and by the time the lifts were running it was close to a whiteout on top of the mountain. These inversion layers really fuck with your head; you can go from sunny, to whiteout, to thick cloud cover in one run.
“minor disturbances” that drop 6-12 are fairly common as well. These are just as good(or even better) then the massive storms because patrol can get the mountain open quicker and without the wind the snow blankets the entire mountain in light, dry, pow.
This year in Gulmarg, to my knowledge no one died or even was buried in an avalanche. The ski patrol did an AMAZING job opening the mountain as soon as they could(resulting in something like a 40% improvement on the # of days Phase II was running vs the 06/07 season) The mountain is basically a series of massive terrain traps. Slide paths are everywhere and you can see how big the slides are just by looking at how far away from the mountain the trees start…
(you can also see an avalanche dam in the lower left that protects the gondola)
That said, the mountain(at least while I was there) was amazingly stable. With regular massive storms and consistent temps most of the loaded slopes slide during the storms when no one is on the mountain. Then there is a down day while patrol does their work which stabilizes the snowpack even more. No surface frost ever formed(which was really weird…something about the humidity/latitude?) and with a deep(4m+) snowpack on top there were no deep instabilities. In past years there have been massive slides and the entire mountain was on a hairtrigger. We experience none of that; with most of the days Phase II ran the backcountry avalanche advisory being, “moderate”
For the first time this year there were foreign ‘snow safety experts’ in Gulmarg for the entire season. Brian and James did an excellent job throughout the entire year, on and off the mountain. They managed to convince the J&K government to let them use explosives for control work, something all others thought was a pipe dream. After consulting the army, they ended up with bricks of plastic explosive and a few bad fuses. An interesting fact, when a fuse doesn’t achieve the explosive force necessary to start a chain reaction in plastic explosive the explosive just lights on fire. The first day they used bombs there were a few duds that just burned themselves out in the snow. On top of all the hoops they had to jump through to get a proper snow safety program, they had an impossible time getting paid. When I left they were around 70 days past due on their contract. All the locals said that it was just how it worked in Kashmir and they would get paid at the end but I really hope those two got paid for an entire season of excellent work.
Now, on to the real reason you clicked on this TR!!
Wake up in the morning and after some tea and an omelet (aka fried egg) walk over to G1 to load the first stage
If its running you have to look for the guy that sells you tickets. While I was there, he spent half the time at the window and half the time chilling upstairs
Many of the buildings cannot handle the additional weight of snow on the roofs. So they have to shovel it off after every storm. This was @9000ft…
After going past the old defunct chair you really start to get a good look at the mountain.
The gondolas are probably the worst designed gondolas that are still in service. Go there yourself to see just how bad they are.
About half way up phase I if you’re facing the right way you start to realize just how big these mountains are…
The end of the 1st stage and the start of the 2nd stage are in the same building, but don’t count on just walking from one to another.
An average day lineup around 10am. This is the only lift, so these are basically all the skiers for that particular day.
A bunch of Russian came down for a week, ballooning the lines to this:
But that is about as bad as it got
192 Bros, Lotus 120s, and an avalanche awareness board. What more could you want?
The general practice was to put your skis in line and walk downstairs to the restaurant for more tea, hash, etc while you waited for the mountain to open. Ticket sales were interesting, im not even going to describe the debacle that was the second stage ticket office.
Looking down the lineup
You can wander around and take photos as well
Hopefully the gondola starts to run soon, and you see stuff like this
Here is a reference to the size of the mountain. The green area is patrolled/controlled everything else is backcountry…
No where else in the world…
Step out into heaven @4000m
After you get off at the top, there are too many lines to possibly describe, so just look at some of the pictures.
Last edited by mc_roon; 08-20-2010 at 03:01 PM.
04-14-2008, 06:58 PM #2
A short skin or bootpack brings you up to the peak
If the gondola isnt running for some reason or another(like someone slept in, or the power is out, or they just dont feel like it) you can skin up provided the patrol isnt doing control work. It takes about 2-3 hours.
Other options in the area are an accessibility nightmare but if you could ever get to them…
I will be back
04-14-2008, 07:04 PM #3
Nice! Brings back memories....Putting the "core" in corporate, one turn at a time.
Metalmücil 2010 - 2013 "Go Home" album is now a free download
The Bonin Petrels
04-14-2008, 07:07 PM #4
04-14-2008, 07:08 PM #5
great skiing and readily available hash? i'm so there.my dog sheds the gnar.
04-14-2008, 07:09 PM #6
04-14-2008, 07:12 PM #7
04-14-2008, 07:15 PM #8
Thanks for the great smile I have on my face right now!
04-14-2008, 07:17 PM #9
looks amazing. fkna
04-14-2008, 07:29 PM #10
04-14-2008, 07:40 PM #11
there is so much potential in that part of the world.
04-14-2008, 07:58 PM #12
that's really sweet. looks like a good time.
04-14-2008, 08:22 PM #13Registered User
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
- Western Pacific
Absolutely amazing. Reminds us all that there is still great skiing yet to be discovered (or developed) on this planet!
04-14-2008, 08:32 PM #14
I think I know where I want to spend my year bumming around...
04-14-2008, 08:41 PM #15
I officially give this TR of the year (I, II, + III).
This has everything, thanks for sharing.Donjoy to the World!
04-14-2008, 08:48 PM #16
Qualite' from the rooner..
04-14-2008, 08:57 PM #17
04-14-2008, 09:02 PM #18
Amazing. I'm humbled and inspired.
04-14-2008, 09:06 PM #19
I will go there someday.....someday.
04-14-2008, 09:07 PM #20User
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
You didn't happen to catch Brian's last name/where he was from did you?
04-14-2008, 09:18 PM #21
Wow. That is all.
04-14-2008, 09:24 PM #22
04-14-2008, 09:25 PM #23
pretty sure brian is from snowbasin, at least if my memory of what mc_roon told me is correctThree fundamentals of every extreme skier, total disregard for personal saftey, amphetamines, and lots and lots of malt liquor......-jack handy
04-14-2008, 09:30 PM #24....................
- Join Date
- May 2005
04-14-2008, 09:34 PM #25Registered User
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
- Columbia, SC
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