THE one and only HIMALAYAN BANKED SLALOM; First piece of the pie........

I’m going to attempt to give you the recipe for a Himalayan Banked Slalom. It’s an out-there dish, not suited to everyone’s taste. It’s got spice, is definitely fruity and, in reality, involves a smorgasbord of ingredients to bring it all together.

The pot that cooked up the Banked Slalom
Before a dish of this stature can come into fruition, someone needs to dream it up. However
a banked slalom snowboard competitions aren’t exactly nouveau cuisine! They were the bread and butter of early competitive snowboarding, with its roots right back at the beginning of our sport. This being said, it still took the imagination and determination of one man to bring it to the Himalaya. The Di5 founder, fearless leader and executive chef, Andy, spent two years cooking up this project; countless trips to Srinagar, whetting the appetite of officials, whom before his intervention, had been brought up on a bland diet of skiing. Andy cruised in there with a proposal of something fresh, fun and flavourful. Luckily for everyone, they were in the mood to try something different, support was offered and in 2014 the Himalayan Banked Slalom was going to happen. This was essentially the golden egg that had to be cracked before baking could begin!

Now that all the dreaming, planning and officious work was behind, a recipe had to be concocted, which would result in all that hard work, turning into a tasty celebration of the sport of snowboarding, in Kashmir. This being said, while Andy has many years snowboarding experience, competing at an international level, giving him an understanding of what sort of things go into this type of dish. However, his sous-chef, namely I, had never ridden a banked slalom course, let alone built a berm! What I did bring to our kitchen, was a belief in the dish we were creating, a sprinkling of snowboarding experience and a good dose of Scottish opinion, which chef could take or leave but was there none-the-less. I suppose that covers step one of the recipe, which was obtaining the relevant permissions.

Step two seemed quite straight forward: get the necessary equipment to rope off the course,
so we could stay safe while we created our masterpiece. All it took was one jeep, Andy, myself and Sarpanch (our interpreter/big man!) and a day trip to Srinagar. We ventured to the local bamboo/rope emporium and engaged in some strong-hand tactics to get the best prices. This essentially involved me and the owner squeezing each other’s hands until somebody yields. Let’s just say I secured us a discount! So off we went with our ingredients, 50 bamboo poles and 5kg of rope. (How long is 5kg of rope? Your guess is as good as mine!) Next stop was the trophy shop, which also sold musical instruments and board games, amongst other things. Lastly, we went and bought some beer. Neither of us was under the impression that the week to come was going to be an easy one, we sure as hell were going to need a beer!

just what we needed, lots of bamboo.
Sarpanch leads the way
Sandy might have won the hand strength competition
but I think the old guy gave him a run for his money!
Returning to Gulmarg with our supplies, all we needed to do was get it up the gondola, which surely shouldn’t be an issue as we had the necessary support from ski patrol. Well, first off, there was an abortive attempt to raise ski-patrol on the radio, so I went to seek help from someone higher up. He sent me off up the lift, without the poles and rope, to get written permission from the head of ski patrol, although I had it on good authority he had already informed them we were coming. So off I set, aware that all good recipes take some tweaking. When I arrived, the necessary permissions were sent to the original guy, who told me his radio didn’t work! It quickly became apparent that this dish was definitely going to have some Kashmiri spice! Back down again, I loaded all the gear, then with the help of Tariq, carried it all out to the ski patrol hut.

The Gully on the left is First Gully, it held the first Himalayan Banked Slalom.
click to enlarge^^^
So with everything in place, on Monday morning, we could get into the meat of the dish; the digging! Or so we thought. Turned out there would be some more lugging of poles and setting up of ropes before we could get hands on shovels. The next few steps of this delectable treat will reveal some of the secret ingredients. However, like any good cook, I’m going to leave you to prove like dough, before I knead your imaginations with the rest of this recipe!