All of a sudden BAM goes Gulmarg; an explosion of technicolour outerwear, big groups and queues.
It must be February.
|The Gondola queue at Kongdoori is inside this year!|
The end of the storm sees about 200 people lined up for opening day. It’s a mad
dash, to cash in, on the powder stash. What took well over ten days to track out in January is now done
a few. This is when a good knowledge of the mountain will see you reap the best rewards. My tip, if you
are new to the place, is get a good guide! For me it is all about exploration.
|The typical sunny morning view from Sandys breakfast table|
I finally got some binoculars this year. I also have a prime breakfast view of the entire mountain. I
combine these two things and pick out spots, usually on the rocky out crops, which still have no lines.
It’s then off out, to pick our way, into the lines and leave the only tracks on that face. Guess what?
They’re still there! It pays to spend the busy times exploring new lines. I’ve opened up a few spots this
year that, after the next snowfall, I know are highly unlikely to be ridden and I’ve got more to explore.
The other option is to skin. Probably one of the best days I’ve had this year was in variable snow
conditions. We set off to the top, went round the back of Shark’s Fin, to a zone called Great White.
There the three of us were the first off the top, a nice 45 degree pitch. Good snow into a bit of crust but
fresh lines. Then it was a little scoot and a short scramble into the doggy chutes.
Named because the best way to access them is from behind! Again the snow looked hard and sun-
crusted but after a couple of jump turns it softened up nicely. First three down there too! A second skin
saw us back onto the Apherwat ridge and one final 1000m run for the day. The top quarter was sub-
par but you persevere and are rewarded with an epic fall line tree run. Then a bouncy and fun natural
border cross run to the gondola.
|The fun thing about Gulmarg is most of the time you will not know if a spot has a name yet!|
Sandy and crew put some lines in "the Doggy Chutes"
That last run was 9 days since our last snowfall. Gulmarg is such a wonderful place because even as busy
as it is and with a long period of no snow, one can still find the goods. The best thing about pushing
further out is that you keep discovering new zones. From that one day I’ve got two new projects for
future exploration. This place never ceases to amaze me. My third season and I’ve found even more new
places and I haven’t even been in a helicopter!