The first transmissions of 2013

Our close friend and reliable back country partner Sandy Norval has been on the ground in Gulmarg for about a month. Sandy is great for calling it as he see's it and is not bad at stringing a sentence together, hence we were stoked when he offered to write a few blog updates for us. Read below for the first of his updates from Kashmir......

This is Sandy
This is the view from the lounge at
New Mount View where Sandy wrote his Uodate

Sandy's Words:

It’s been almost a month now and I have a few stories to report. First day, first week, first gondola, first line, four turns in I EXPLODED in the powder, executing the perfect cartwheel to head then back to feet. Laughing to myself I charged on loving every second of being back on Mt Apherwat. The next week saw one snow shower but with so few people in Gulmarg there were a ridiculous amount of lines to be had. The cold temps and the sparse population of riders meant it was only the rocks that were causing any agro! A typical snowpack was shaping up to cause a few worries so we were hoping for a big storm.

When it came we weren’t disappointed. 36 hours of no power but in return we got a 1m of snow. Several outings were attempted during the storm, which was a lot more ‘swimming in powder’ than ‘carving fine lines’. There was a 2 hour wait and endless cups of tea, hanging around for the road to get opened, after we took a ride to Tangmarg. Closed due to the massive amount of snow, naturally avalanching, over the road back up to Gulmarg, helped along by the snow clearing team, which had managed to get one of their industrial snow blowers stuck! I was lucky enough to get to ride back up with the driver of said machine. He happily showed me pictures of his shabby driving on his cell phone and laughed away my polite inference that our being stuck in Tangmarg was directly his fault. Overall, another day where one run is more than enough to test more than just your riding abilities.

Once the ridiculous amount of snow had settled and there was still too much to do, to get the upper phase of the gondola going, it was time to take it to the trees. I’ve never seen enough snow in the middle of January to drop down to Babereshi but this early season bounty made everything possible. With a loaded sumo jeep, we got to the drop off and 8 very excited powder hounds advanced down the first pitch. The face shots and bearing of teeth, from smiling, made everyone look even more like salivating rabid animals. By the end of the second pitch, the panting beasts that we’d become, had time to recoup and take on our more normal appearance, as we waited for the taxi to run us back up However, we all had the boundless puppy dog energy to go chase that stick some more. Our second run was another peachy affair. Taken at a slightly less hedonistic pace we identified some fun little drops and log rides. With a whooping and a hollering we made ourselves ever present. All good practice for the gong-show that can be opening day of phase two after a storm.