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  1. #1
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    TR: GULMARG '08/09 - THE GULMARG GONDOLA

    THE GULMARG GONDOLA

    Gulmarg is home to the world's highest gondola and it provides access to untold acres of terrain and thousands of vertical feet for downhill therapy. Stories boast of deep powder and few crowds. But hang on cowboy, before wiping the promised face shots off your goggles there are a few real obstacles in your path.




    Avalanche, Gondola Bowl. Triggered by ski cutting after explosives failed to release the pack. Photo: J. Carolin.




    Looming cornices overhanging narrow drains. Photo: F. Fuchs.




    From 15 December to 15 March there has for two seasons been a formal Snow Safety program at Gulmarg that coincides with the winter tourist season for the state cable car commission (J&KCCC). There has been a detailed daily avalanche backcountry advisory posted at G2 & G4 during these times.




    The Gulmarg Ski Patrol & the Gulmarg Snow Safety Team strive to advertise the dangers you might expect at a big-mountain resort.




    Among the hazards to the unprepared is the altitude - 3050m at G2, 3950m at G4, the upper terminus of the Gulmarg gondola.




    Unmentioned hazards are angle iron fragments, barbed-wire perimeters and Indian Army outposts.




    You are strictly uninvited to bring your weapons beyond this point, but what is allowed before this point is unclear.




    Gulmarg is the site of the High-Altitude Warfare School (HAWS); many nations send elite corps there for advanced training. Photo: J. Carolin.




    Kashmir is home to some people unhappy with the USA and India, but it is not a sentiment expressed openly if it exists at Gulmarg.




    It's always the details that matter most - despite some unusual circumstances you may decide to travel around the globe to Gulmarg, but if they don't open the gate, you don't get on the fabled gondola. On this day the snow was fresh, the sky was blue, Phase 2 of the gondola had been closed for five consecutive days for storms and avalanche control work, but was likely to open. Hounds at the gates. Photo: F. Fuchs.




    In order to get on the gondola you will of course need a ticket, the rate advertised at the sales window is a reasonable 800 INR.




    Of course, the actual rate is different than advertised, but still a reasonable 1250 INR for the day pass - about USD$25. (800 INR is the price to ride both stages of the the gondola as a round-trip passenger, not as a skier).




    An epic day. Usually the foreign skiers & riders are all gone by March, but it was worth the wait. Real good snow and other than ski patrol, only two downhillers.




    Just because you have purchased a ticket that does not mean that the gondola is actually running. It only means that you have not read the signs properly, or do not know yet which signs have real meaning. This sign says: YOUR TICKET IS VALID FOR LIMITED TIME PLEASE SEE THE TIMINGS. Understand this means there is time the ticket you possess is invalid, or more accurately, useless during the daytime when the gondola is not running. There is no sign with the (start-up) timings, so it is double-indemnity for the operator of the gondola, and a "Catch-22" situation for the customer.




    There is a very prominent sign at the head of the "Q" with the lift closing timings, and this edict is almost never violated. It's more likely there will be a "mechanical failure" at 2:45 PM that cannot be solved in 15 minutes.




    For a number of reasons one should have this number on speed-dial. For example, in order to ask: Why is the gondola running but it is not possible to purchase tickets? (True story).




    The gondola at Gulmarg is Poma designed & installed. This (2009) is its fourth year of operation.




    The J&KCCC are proud of their gondola and have some definite rules regarding the use of their cabins, all ignored.




    Example 1:




    Example 2:




    Example 3:




    It is requested that six passengers board a gondola cabin...




    ...not obviously designed to carry six skiers/snowboarders, backpacks, and gear in any sense of comfort. But it is possible and it gets done, particularly on powder days.




    Finally got a ticket and into a cabin and voila: Ripped by 10:30 AM. Mary's Shoulder, Gondola Bowl, 16 February. This is early on the second morning of an epic two-day powder harvest, one of three feasts in February. These are lines from the previous day - the first open day after six days of G3 closure due to continuous, generous snowfall, followed by the avalanche control work of the Gulmarg Ski Patrol & the Snow Safety Team.




    When the G4 is open and you have a front seat you have 15 minutes to ponder the options. Mary's Shoulder, Gondola Bowl, 10 March.




    View at Tower 12, Gondola Bowl, 10 March.




    View from Tower 13, Gondola Bowl, 12 March.




    The Gulmarg gondola - highest in the world - view looking NE at Gulmarg in the middle-distance, and the Drung river drainage towards Srinagar.




    G4 - view of the top station of the Gulmarg gondola from the north, with the Himalaya range to the east. Photo: F. Fuchs.




    Atop the "false summit" of Mt. Affarwat after ascending 30 minutes from G4, the Karakoram range of Pakistan to the north.




    Sometimes G4 will not open in apparently perfect conditions due to the risk of avalanche. The Army has to provide the explosives, the government has to open G4, the Snow Safety Team has to clear the hill. On this day the explosives were late and too few, leaving too little time for control operations. Clouds and wind from an incoming front erased these bluebird conditions by noon-thirty, and all hope of going uphill evaporated. Keeping busy while waiting for tickets and an opening at G3, 24 February. Photo: J. Carolin.




    While you wait for interminable hours for the gondola to operate you will spend some time at Restaurant Cum. Really, I'm not making it up, it's at G3, underneath the gondola station.




    Have some fabulous "Chicken Kanti" for lunch. Highly recommended.




    Morning at the ticket line following a frustrating day. This one was epic - Blank Canvas, 25 February.


  2. #2
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    Looks sweet! Wonder if many people go back down cause of altitude sickness

  3. #3
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    now these TRs bring back some memories...i cant wait to get back there next year.

    do you have any shots of the massive slide that went further out? I heard 6-8meter crown?

  4. #4
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    Great pics, I miss all of northern India, amazing place to be. Hard to discern whether they are blasting avalanches or just chucking grenades at each other. Placed spooked me out. Skiing is second to none though.

  5. #5
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    Karakoradness!

  6. #6
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    Rad. So want to go there.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by boltonoutlaw View Post
    THE GULMARG GONDOLA
    It's always the details that matter most - despite some unusual circumstances you may decide to travel around the globe to Gulmarg, but if they don't open the gate, you don't get on the fabled gondola. On this day the snow was fresh, the sky was blue, Phase 2 of the gondola had been closed for five consecutive days for storms and avalanche control work, but was likely to open. Hounds at the gates. Photo: F. Fuchs.

    That is one sweet looking snowboard.
    **
    I'm a cougar, not a MILF! I have to protect my rep! - bklyn

    In any case, if you're ever really in this situation make sure you at least bargain in a couple of fluffers.
    -snowsprite

  8. #8
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    that place looks rad

    Quote Originally Posted by boltonoutlaw View Post
    The Gulmarg gondola - highest in the world - view looking NE at Gulmarg in the middle-distance, and the Drung river drainage towards Srinagar.
    not to nit pick over details, but i thougt it was the highest gondi used for skiing in the world. i think there is one in china that is way up there but no skiing.

    edit-

    The new gondola has eight passenger cabins and reaches 4,843m above sea level, accessing the Aba Great Glacier in Sichuan province.

    The lift was built by Doppelmayr who began work back in October 2006 but were hampered by bad weather. They eventually completed construction and handed over the lift in late March this year, and the gondola is now open to the public. It can carry 800 passengers per hour and takes 9.4 minutes to make its ascent. There are 36 gondola cabins travelling at six metres per second over the 2399m length and 1,226m vertical.

    The top station is 327m higher than the previous record holder, at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Yunnan province which has a top station height of 4516m.

    The third highest gondola in the world, and the highest at a ski resort, is at Gulmarg in India. Built by French company POMA, its highest terminal is at 3979.5m
    im a nerd.
    Last edited by steepconcrete; 03-25-2009 at 01:25 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mc_roon View Post
    do you have any shots of the massive slide that went further out? I heard 6-8meter crown?
    No, and correct.
    For pics see John C., Dave W., & Brian N. I'll sniff around also.

  10. #10
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    good info.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mc_roon View Post
    now these TRs bring back some memories...i cant wait to get back there next year.

    do you have any shots of the massive slide that went further out? I heard 6-8meter crown?
    Here's the shot you are looking for, from Dave W:


  12. #12
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    ^^^^MOTHEROFGOD^^^^

    now that is some scary shit

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by boltonoutlaw View Post
    Bite down hard on that Avalung.

  14. #14
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  15. #15
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    MCRoon would huck it....classic.
    looks amazing, might have to put that on the life goals list.
    http://coldsmokechronicles.blogspot.com

    "If we can't bring the mountain to the party, let's bring the PARTY to the MOUNTAIN!"

    "especially if you beat it like AKPM on a lonely alaskan night" brice618

    Jer
    I told you I was retarded!!!!

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    and the truth comes out

  16. #16
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    Sweet ass TR, and that crown is ridiculous...

  17. #17
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    if i cant even make it to UT how the hell will i ever get to Gulmarg?
    o--/\
    --/(. \
    -/ .) ' \ go with respect, get to know your mountains
    /' (. ' |'\
    ' ' .) ' ,'

  18. #18
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    Very nice TR, well written and awesome photos, thanks for sharing. That crown is disturbing, that must have been BIG.

  19. #19
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    Swell Panik Global 187cm

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post
    That is one sweet looking snowboard.
    It is a Swell Panik Global 187cm, and the owner will be damned psyched you said so. Here he is, with his prized possession:


  20. #20
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    Question:

    How do you fit skis in the gondola?
    I didn't see ski carriers on the outside.

    At an angle inside?
    Or sticking out the door?

  21. #21
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    Straight skis (didn't see any) and poles go in the carriers on the outside (not in picture). Fat skis and boards go inside, with the passengers. It's hectic, crowded, and uncomfortable, so, completely Indian!

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  23. #23
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    Nice TR mate. Brings back some really good memories. Fekking scary crown man.

  24. #24
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    check this shiz out

  25. #25
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    a few more

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