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  1. #1
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    Feb 2006
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    Gulmarg TR (3/3)

    Gulmarg TR (3/3) – When it Goes Blue
    (or the one you’ve been waiting for)

    [ame="http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117739"]Part I[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=118629"]Part II[/ame]


    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.

    Brian





    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.

















    zoomed in


    zoomed out
    Last edited by mc_roon; 08-20-2010 at 03:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    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.










    Just watch




    Other options in the area are an accessibility nightmare but if you could ever get to them…





    I will be back

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
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    7,315
    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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    urban enironment
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    8
    killing it!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    DNVR
    Posts
    547
    dude.

    sweet.

    *drool*

    great skiing and readily available hash? i'm so there.
    my dog sheds the gnar.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    JH/Los Andes
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    2,500
    I think it was worth the wait
    "The idea wasnt for me, that I would be the only one that would ever do this. My idea was that everybody should be doing this. At the time nobody was, but this was something thats too much fun to pass up." -Briggs
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    Wear your climbing harness. Attach a big anodized locker to your belay loop so its in prime position to hit your nuts. Double russian Ti icescrews on your side loops positioned for maximal anal rape when you sit down. Then everyone will know your radness
    More stoke, less shit.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2007
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    2,346

  8. #8
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    Jan 2007
    Location
    North Bend, Washington
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    7,882
    Awesome.

    Thanks for the great smile I have on my face right now!

  9. #9
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    Oct 2006
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    212
    looks amazing. fkna

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    1,006

    Talking

    "Rock n Roll, yeah, whoo!!"
    Quote Originally Posted by mc_roon View Post
    Unbelievable stuff mc_roon!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    The Flatlands
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    FKNA

    there is so much potential in that part of the world.

  12. #12
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    Mar 2006
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    Carlsbad, CA
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    1,713
    that's really sweet. looks like a good time.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Western Pacific
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    38
    Absolutely amazing. Reminds us all that there is still great skiing yet to be discovered (or developed) on this planet!

  14. #14
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    Mar 2006
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    Southside of heaven
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    2,864
    I think I know where I want to spend my year bumming around...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Biggest little ski town in the world
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    2,406
    I officially give this TR of the year (I, II, + III).

    This has everything, thanks for sharing.
    Donjoy to the World!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    cottonwood
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    1,446
    Qualite' from the rooner..

  17. #17
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    Mar 2008
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    Ess El Sea
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    Simply amazing. Someplace to save for.
    Congrats, mags! We collected 1030.68! for birdman!
    Quote Originally Posted by Tuckerman View Post
    No is that like whne I come on your mosms face whle you lick my ballsss???

  18. #18
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    Dec 2006
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    Incline Village, NV
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    2,481
    Amazing. I'm humbled and inspired.

  19. #19
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    Nov 2004
    Location
    People's Republic of Shitshow
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    7,638
    I will go there someday.....someday.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Ogden
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    The sickness.

    You didn't happen to catch Brian's last name/where he was from did you?

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Bay Area
    Posts
    206
    Wow. That is all.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    in transit
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    1,078
    tits! THANK YEW!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by 3centshort View Post
    I figure when he realized he was still 10-15 feet off as he flew the K his asshole puckered so hard it ate his nuts
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    In the other scenario, you would be like "Peanut Butter, cool, fuck I'm stuck HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME oh fuck I'm screwed, but at least I have time to think about how screwed I am. I guess that is a blessing. FUCK NO IT'S NOT A BLESSSING I'M STUCK AND I'M DYING.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    San Francisco
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    2,525
    pretty sure brian is from snowbasin, at least if my memory of what mc_roon told me is correct
    Three fundamentals of every extreme skier, total disregard for personal saftey, amphetamines, and lots and lots of malt liquor......-jack handy

  24. #24
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    5,616
    Awesome, Matt!

  25. #25
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