Friday, July 9, 2010

GULMARG '08/09

Browse the links (left) to plan your trip to Gulmarg. Find a comprehensive list of Trip Reports, Forum Threads, Photos, Videos, News, & Travel Tips.

Scroll down this page to read the latest news & information from Kashmir & Gulmarg.

Other winter seasons:
Gulmarg '11/12
Gulmarg '10/11
Gulmarg '09/10
Gulmarg '07/08

Go: Snow Conditions at Gulmarg
Go: Avalanche Advisory for Gulmarg

Saturday, July 3, 2010

KASHMIR: PAINT IT WHITE

Presenting Paint it White, a video filmed in 2009 by Russian snowboarder Konstantin Galat.

Kashmir. Paint It White from Konstantin Galat on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

JACK MCCOWAN ON GULMARG 2009

From the Adventure Project:
In Gulmarg, India the NZ Ski Club of Kashmir ran a program to teach local kids skiing & snowboarding. 8 Instructors from all over the world volunteered to spend 2 months living, teaching and riding in the Indian Himalaya - Jack McCowan, describing the first of his videos below:

Gulmarg 2009 from Jack McCowan on Vimeo.



Henry Cobb Skiing Gulmarg 2009 from Jack McCowan on Vimeo.

Friday, April 10, 2009

TRIP REPORTS: GULMARG '08/09

TR: GULMARG '08/09 - THE GULMARG GONDOLA
TR: GULMARG '08/09 - TERRAIN, PT. ONE
TR: GULMARG '08/09 - TERRAIN, PT. TWO
TR: GULMARG '08/09 - SHARKS FIN
TR: GULMARG '08/09 - COMMUTING TO GULMARG
TR: GULMARG '08/09 - 23 MARCH: 1 GONDOLA, 2 RIDERS
TR: GULMARG '08/09 - KASHMIR HUMOR

Sunday, March 22, 2009

COMMUTING TO GULMARG

Leaving Gulmarg was proving difficult as conditions were getting better through March, but by the 15th hardly anyone was left in town. Punished by nine straight days of riding I moved downhill to Srinagar with an eye on the forecast. As long as freezing levels remained low enough it was pretty certain that 18 inches of snow would be falling at G4 on Affarwat by the weekend. With spring bursting out in the rice paddies and mustard fields of the valley Srinagar was more appealing, more interesting, its conveniences were a welcome change, and the living was less expensive. At the best of times Gulmarg could be boring apres ski, but in mid-March it was a ghost town; the hustle and bustle of the city would be a sharp contrast to the everyday sameness of an empty resort village.

Rain at Dal Lake means snow uphill. Instead of being slopeside as I have been for 75 days, there is now a pretty good distance and several transfers between me and Gulmarg, plus the matter of locating my stored equipment in Tangmarg and re-mounting bindings to a snowboard before I can make any turns. Internet shows the 21st of March as the first day clear after the storm, but I've been burned too many times by the J&KCCC, so my plan is to roll for Gulmarg on the 22cd, leaving them a day to muck it up at the gondola. (Thanks to informed guesswork - the gondola remained closed on the 21st all day).

Getting off to an early start is key to making quick transfers at the depots in Srinagar and Tangmarg. The plan is to reach the gondola by 10:00 AM, and there's no reason to expect it open any earlier. Morning at Dal Lake is when the wholesale vegetable traders meet to exchange goods and money, so we swing by the wet market leaving the lakeside neighborhood for a city taxi stand. First a visit to the tea stall to fill the thermos. Buy some Kashmiri bread to fill the pit - "Only two piece, sir?"

A rickshaw will get you anywhere, but in this case, to the transportation depot west of town - Batmaloo, also the site of a large produce market, one of the most ancient in central Asia.

There's little point arriving before 8:00 AM on Sunday; far worse though, is not being in the first vehicle leaving for Tangmarg, then you have time to kill. These are share taxis - Sumo jeeps whose drivers expect to seat no less than 8 passengers, though 10 is the target. Buses are also available for the trip between Srinagar/Batmaloo and Tangmarg, but the savings in cost is little, the time lost to stops is tremendous. Batmaloo is enormous so make sure your rickshaw driver knows which area has your vehicles to your destination. Find a Sumo to Tangmarg at this corner by the Lala Restaurant.

From Tangmarg there are only two passengers in the one Sumo going to Gulmarg, but a bus is leaving directly, so I opt in. In late March the roads are fully clear, traffic is less, so the bus takes not much more time time than a Sumo. In winter taking the bus would be a suicide-mission for time-travel: you'd end up pushing the thing and arrive in Gulmarg after two hours. Army officer here is checking to make sure no one is packin' snowlerblades.

I'm looking at a long walk from the bus depot in Gulmarg to the gondola when Billa Bakshi arrives with a friend and offers me a ride to the hill on his Enfield 350. Tim gets there by foot I guess, but at what other "ski resort" on earth do 75% of its customers on a given day arrive by motorcycle?

TR: GULMARG '08/09 - A DAY WITH BILLA



TR: GULMARG '08/09 - COMMUTING TO GULMARG

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rider: Jordan Daley
Photo: Henry Cobb















Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

EPIC DAY AT GULMARG, PT. ONE

SHAUN KRATZER (1976-2007)

This post is dedicated to the friends and family of Shaun Kratzer, a man lost in an avalanche two years ago today, at Gulmarg. An account of this sad event by someone who was there can be found at The Avy in Gulmarg. There is also a discussion of this particular avalanche with photographs of the crown and deposition located at this forum thread at Teton Gravity Research. (The area of that slide is now known as Shaggy's Face). An additional account of this tragedy can be read where it was originally reported at News.com.au (Caution: This article is accompanied by a disturbing photograph of the victim).

The snowfall at Gulmarg is generous, increasing the danger of avalanche at the resort, and especially in the adjacent bowls, which are unpatrolled, but heavily skied. Fortunately, the resort has retained the services of experienced patrollers and avalanche experts, and has gained permission to use explosives to trigger pre-emptive slides to control the danger to skiers.

Please consult the following avalanche resources before venturing into the backcountry, and if you intend to visit Gulmarg the patrollers firmly ask that one come equipped with a transceiver, a probe, a shovel, and the knowledge to properly use them all.
Photo credit: Corey Putkunz

AVALANCHE RESOURCES:
The Avalanche Center
The Avalanche Encyclopedia
Surviving the Backcountry - Tahoe World.
WestWide Avalanche Network

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI (1869-1948)

Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation of India. Assassinated 61 years ago today.

"As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. Man, for instance, cannot be untruthful, cruel or incontinent and claim to have God on his side."
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"
"There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for."
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - MKG


Gandhi's Ashes Scattered At Sea - BBC, 30 January 2008.
Sad, but Hindu nationalists have Ambivalent Views Over Gandhi Killer - BBC, 30 January 2008.

Photo credit: MHIP

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FIRE IN THE BED

PEACEFUL REPUBLIC DAY IN KASHMIR

Srinagar and the surrounding areas of Kashmir remained peaceful and calm during the annual observation of Republic Day, 26 January 2009. The Kashmir Valley area did not experience the violence that has marred the national holiday in previous years.

The run-up to Republic Day is generally marked by increasing tensions in Srinagar as government forces step up planned search and surveillance operations. Furthermore, the observation of a holiday boycott, known as "Black Day" in Srinagar, often results in a widespread shutdown of transportation and retail services, which only adds to the woes of city-dwellers.
Photo credit: Kashmir Media Service

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BARACK OBAMA INAUGURATED

Barack Obama is inaugurated and the world rejoices. Here at Gulmarg no one is disappointed to see Mr. Bush leave office.





OBAMA'S KASHMIR CONUNDRUM

Obama's Kashmir conundrum - BBC, 21 January 2009.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CRAIG KELLY (1966-2003)

Craig Kelly, a legend in the winter sports industry, champion freestyler, pioneer freerider, and inspiration to a generation of snowboarders, lost in an avalanche six years ago today. R.I.P.

Monday, January 19, 2009

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (1929-1968)

Our world is rife with division and struggle, intolerance, misunderstanding and hatred, war and oppression. Our civilization depends on the courage of men and women resisting these tyrannies to lead mankind into a future of cooperation and peace.

Although Martin Luther King Jr., is mainly identified with the civil rights movement in the US his message of peace is universal, and it speaks to people of all nations. That message is relevant to the current struggle in Kashmir; his dedication to peace everywhere is the reason Dr. King is a hero.

"Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - MLK


Photo credit: Associated Press

Sunday, January 18, 2009

CHILAI KALAN WAKES UP

Chilai Kalan wakes up; Snow, rains cut off Kashmir - RK, 18 January 2009.

From the Rising Kashmir article: The 296-kms long Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only road link connecting Kashmir with rest of the world was closed for vehicular traffic on Sunday after heavy snowfall and rains lashed the State. The army personnel in the upper reaches have been warned about possible snow avalanches and directed to take the precautionary measures.

Heavy to moderate snowfall was experienced in almost all the upper reaches and high altitudes of the Valley.

The meadow valley of Gulmarg received 3 feet of snow, Afarwat and Kangduri 4 ft, Tangmarg and Babareshi 1.5 ft, Pahalgam 1 ft, Sadhna top 4 ft and Kargil 1-2 ft in the fresh snowfall. The plain areas of the Valley also received light snowfall, much to the delight of the city residents. Trees, parks, and fields were draped in white cover.

It was very delightful to watch the snowfall,” said a city resident Mujtaba Ahmad. (Emphasis added)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

AVALANCHE AWARENESS, PT. ONE: GULMARG

Brian Newman, leader of the Snow Safety team for Gulmarg 07/08, with Nanga Parbat in the background (photo right).

Mr. Newman is a no-nonsense individual who takes his job very seriously, and each Tuesday night he and his Snow Safety team hosted a (spellbinding) presentation on the subject of avalanche danger at the Pine Palace. This was always a very well attended, SRO event that never failed to make a sobering impression on the gathered crowd.

Brian is careful to stress that this presentation in no way substituted for actual avalanche training, and in doing so, most definitely motivated many in attendance to seek out that training. (The Snow Safety team established a permanent, simulated buried victim and transceiver as a practice facility on the grounds of the Pine Palace).

Lest you remain unimpressed with the inherent danger of a big mountain environment I invite you to read this arresting submission by Ptor - the 2007 Kashmir Winter Report.
Photo credit: John Carolin
Image courtesy of Brian Newman

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

USDOS: INDIA TRAVEL ALERT

Travel Alert issued by the US Department of State, 9 January 2009:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens that there is a high threat of terrorism throughout India, and advises U.S. citizens traveling to or already in India to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, especially during the end-of-year holidays until India’s Republic Day, January 26. This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2009 and replaces that issued on December 19 to provide updated information regarding the security situation. (Emphasis added)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

HUGE SNOWFALL AT GULMARG

Kashmir Valley receives snowfall - HN, 4 January 2009.

From the Hindu:
Srinagar (PTI): High altitudes of the Kashmir Valley received another spell of moderate to heavy snowfall, while the plains, including capital Srinagar, experienced light snowfall in the wee hours on Sunday...

The sources said Ski resort of Gulmarg, 52 kms from here, received fresh four to five feet of snow, while it was heavy in the upper reaches including Khilanmarg and Apperwath.

Several feet of snow had already covered the slopes of Gulmarg last month, making it fit for hosting winter sports activities, the sources said. (Emphasis added)

Friday, January 2, 2009

PAHAR GANJ, DELHI, PT. THREE

Day One of 2009 starts out at 500 mph, 30000 feet above Greenland and its unpronounceable landmarks, and ends stalled in a rogue taxi behind a dusty elephant in India.



Picking up where I left off last April: I'm back in the thick of it, the Central Bazaar of Pahar Ganj - the tourist ghetto Delhi/New Delhi. Posts from Delhi last year are gathered HERE.












Photo credit: Jay Farbman

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

GULMARG: THE INSPIRATION

I cannot recall how I first heard of a ski resort in India but it was described to me as an expanse larger than Verbier with vertical footage similar to Whistler, serviced by one six-person gondola. Many hours after that were spent Googling into the night to learn more about Gulmarg. "Ne Pofa, A short ski trip around the world" from M.dub is a beautiful video featuring the resort in the second half. It alone was enough to convince me to drop it all last year and go ASAP. Now I'm back for the second round.

Trip reports provide the grittier details about a destination, so browsing the travel forums has become mandatory before any adventure. The chestnuts in all of the internet jibber-jabber are these submissions from Matt Roon, whose excellent trip reports are hosted at TGR:
TR: Gulmarg 2008 (1/3)
TR: Gulmarg 2008 (2/3)
TR: Gulmarg 2008 (3/3)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

KASHMIR: STATE ELECTIONS

Evidently, the Indian Army in Kashmir is not tolerating any protest activity associated with the state elections. If Americans had to run a gauntlet like this to post a ballot, I don't think democracy would last very long in America. Most of our bloated and apathetic citizens are not cut out for this type of exercise.
Photo credit: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters



No clear winner from Indian Kashmir vote - Reuters, 28 December 2008.
Polls close in Indian Kashmir vote - AJ, 26 December 2008.
Clashes mark final Kashmir poll - BBC, 24 December 2008.
Srinagar notebook: Election blues - BBC, 23 December 2008.
Clashes mar Indian Kashmir voting - AJ, 13 December 2008.
Kashmiris at polls despite boycott call - Reuters, 7 December 2008.
Protesters shot in Indian-Kashmir - AJ, 22 November 2008.
Protests fade as Kashmir vote begins - BBC, 17 November 2008.
Voting begins in Indian Kashmir - AJ, 17 November 2008.
Indian Kashmir prepares for election - IHT, 14 November 2008.
Terrorism grows as Indian election nears - IHT, 24 September 2008.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BENAZIR BHUTTO (1953-2007)

Today is the first anniversary of Benazir Bhutto's death by assassination in Rawalpindi. Condolences to all those mourning this fallen leader, taken far too early from life.

Pakistan mourners honour Bhutto - BBC, 27 December 2008.
Obituary: Benazir Bhutto - BBC, 27 December 2007.
Bhutto: Who Ordered Her Killing? - BBC, 28 December 2007.
Pakistan Blames Qaeda Link - IHT, 28 December 2007.
CIA Names Bhutto's Killers - BBC, 18 January 2008.
Questions & Answers - BBC, 8 February 2008.
Photo credit: BBC

Friday, December 26, 2008

INDO-PAK TENSIONS ON THE RISE

From the AP article:
Pakistan began moving thousands of troops from the Afghan border toward India, officials and witnesses said Friday, raising tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and possibly undermining the U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Pakistan moves troops to Indian border - AP, 26 December 2008.
India PM meets forces, Pakistan moves troops - Reuters, 26 December 2008.
Troop changes after India tension - BBC, 26 December 2008.
Pakistan warns India against attack - IHT, 26 December 2008.
Pakistan cancels military leave - AJ, 26 December 2008.
India warns citizens: Unsafe to travel to Pakistan - Reuters, 26 December 2008.
Pakistan military on 'high alert' - AJ, 22 December 2008.
India wants action, not "war hysteria" - Reuters, 22 December 2008.
Image credit: Steve Breen

BRIGHT SPOT FOR KASHMIR

"The number of militant attacks fell 40 percent from 2007-2008, reaching 709 this year from roughly 1,100 last year, Kuldeep Khoda, a senior police official, said in a statement." (Emphasis added)

Violence in Kashmir lowest in 20 years - IHT, 26 December 2008.
Photo credit: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters

Thursday, December 25, 2008

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Happy Holidays to one and all:

PEACE & LOVE
PEACE & LOVE
PEACE & LOVE

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FBI LINKS PAKISTAN TO TERRORISM

Mumbai attack: US backs Indian proof of Pak hand - TOI, 23 December 2008.
VIDEO: US backs proof of Pak hand - TOI, 23 December 2008.

USDOS: INDIA TRAVEL ALERT

Travel Alert issued by the US Department of State, 19 December 2008:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens that there is a high threat of terrorism throughout India, and advises U.S. citizens traveling to or already in India to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, especially during the end-of-year holidays until India’s Republic Day, January 26. This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2009 and replaces that issued on December 4 to provide updated information regarding the security situation.

The November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai was carried out at venues frequented by Americans. That attack killed 170 persons (including six Americans and 16 other non-Indians) and injured 300. Future attacks may also target public places frequented by Westerners, including in large cities and tourist areas. India press reports that the State government in Goa has warned against beach parties and large gatherings on beaches and “open spaces” between December 23 and January 5.

The U.S. Mission is concerned that increased political tension between Pakistan and India may further complicate travel in areas near their already-sensitive border.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021; telephone +91-11-2419-8000; fax +91-11-2419-8407. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov.
Image credit: Steve Breen