Welcome to Gulmarg 2014......

Snow is fundamental to our sport, doesn't take an Einstein to figure that one out, which is why when it plays a hand in stopping you in your tracks, can you really get angry? Personally, I can't because I love snow. Even if it means spending New Years Eve, stuck in a Delhi hotel, alone, due to the Srinagar airport being closed by the snow! I've also learned that crashing in a Jeep, on the drive through the snow, on the way to Gulmarg, doesn't dent your love for the white stuff either! So some interesting travel mishaps preceded the start of the 2014 season, back here in Kashmir, which hasn't officially started as we await this storm before they open the top half.

The view of the Pir Pinjal the day before
Sandy got stranded by snow

Having the luxury of three months, we can await patiently for the opening and get our legs in skinning around, scouting new spots to explore. It's a definite merit of the place that after three seasons you can still discover new lines and you haven't set foot on the mountain! We've found jibs, pillows, chutes, drops and all manner of interesting features to hit. Bet you are beginning to wish you were here! Well you can always make that possible, just sack your job, book a flight, then send us an email and we'll sort the rest for you. Alternatively, just keep reading this blog and learn what a season in the Himalaya can throw at you.

Duelling busses, no one wins!

I mean how easy should it be to get a season pass? Most places you'll fill in a form online, make a payment and go collect. Well here in Gulmarg things are a bit more complicated. First, you need to go and get the necessary monies out of the ATM, as there is no card or online payment facility for your season pass. Obviously the machine in the market is getting fixed and won't be working that day. So it's off to Tangmarg to use the bank down there. 10 minutes into the trip and we're into a traffic jam. One bus has become lodged against a barrier and is getting pulled out by another, while a small army of locals try and lend a hand. There is shouting, wheel's spinning, a bus rocking but none of this has the desired effect. It stays put.
We clamber pass and start strolling down the road, getting picked up about 15 minutes later after the blockage is resolved. 
Down in Tangmarg we hold up the ATM line as we are forced to make several withdrawls to reach our required amount. Pesky max-limit on foreign cards! Money in pockets, it's back in another jeep for a trip back up to Gulmarg, passing the bus, now abandoned of help and spectators. 

Now we can head to the ticket office for the face-to-face transaction.

Heading in we are warmly greeted by the cold, having no real central heating in the main office. Enquiring about a season pass we are informed that we must wait as the right person isn't there. We wait, wait a wee bit more and then a final bit of chilling brings a new face into the office. Once again we enquire. This time we are told season passes can't be sold until it snows! 'But surely you sell them to us now, so when it does snow, we can just head up' we explain. Nope, can't do that. Once we have the season pass they're obliged to let us up to the top. I mean I love snow but I absolutely despise its uncanny ability to hide board wrecking rocks just underneath, which I dare say is what's going on,up top, at the moment.
Deaf to our suggestions and promises that we have no interest in committing 'new board suicide' we leave without a season pass. Oh well, was half expecting to come away from that empty handed, as it is the norm for the start of the season, when things that seem simple to us are just the opposite! We leave it a good few days and go out on the aforementioned recon. Returning just yesterday to try our hand again. 'Still more snow needed' is the same reply.
Recon......till after this storm

Returning this morning, after 0cm of new snow, our season passes are issued. Ah that extra magic non-existent snowfall how I love you! Just in time for the actual storm that will bring real snow. So now we wait with things to pass the time, like more exploration and the inaugural Avalanche meeting of new head patroller Colin Mitchell. That's tonight at 7.30pm, Pine Palace Heritage, if you are already here. If not, just remember all you need to do is quit the job, book a flight and send us an email and we'll see you there next week!