Sandy has been busy at the keyboard over the last few days, here are his latest adventures:


worth the wait?

The beautiful thing about the early season is that you can have a leisurely breakfast, a gentle stroll to the gondola and still be 6th in line! Our numbers swelled close to 15 as the anticipation for the fresh, deep, powdery goodness increased exponentially, with every minute passed. After 2 hours we were positively frothing for our fix. A little bit of argy-bargy and eventually I was cocooned into my bubble on my way up to find ‘paradise on earth’. Using my time in the Gondola to spot the natural avalanches that had ripped out the nasty depth hoar, which is one of the snow-packs potential future weaknesses. Soon enough though, I was, once again, standing at the top of a massive, open bowl ready to satiate my desire for snow and I set off with a child like enthusiasm.

Bombing down the first pitch the snow was billowing up around me and my cheers were well heard. Having only 5 people ahead of me, I knew, I had an exceptional opportunity to lay down a line without having to cross another. However, as I pulled around the first ridge, the slope angle decreased and I became aware that I wasn’t floating like an angel anymore. My board was sinking and I was firing out all my skills to stop my nose getting completely buried. I came very close to swimming like the days before, yet, this was like being dropped in the ocean and told to swim for a shore you cannot see! Luckily a lot of back leg pumping and being able to jump on a skier’s track saved me from drowning. Back at the bottom there were a lot of bemused grins. Everyone had been surprised by the snow, which was so deep and unsettled that, while exceedingly fun, was harder work than expected. A quick set back of the stance made the next run better. Then the rest of the day was amazing after you realized that you had to jump into other people’s tracks, build up sufficient speed, then pop off into the next untracked field of fun you find.

The next few days saw the snow settle and things speed up. Once again everyone was treated to line after line of freshies. We were running over 2000m of vertical into the Drang valley with barely another Westerner in site. Skinning out through local villages, where the pace of life was far removed from what you experience in Gulmarg. Old favourite runs were being whipped, new routes opened and transceiver skills honed. The mountain was a like a fruit tree, rich with plump juicy morsels of goodness, ripe for the picking. As a high pressure band saw a big swing in day and night temperatures complemented by the wind scouring some aspects, you soon had to re-evaluate your days to allow you to access the goods.