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28Feb/120

Goodbye Gulmarg

5 weeks in Gulmarg and the time has come to leave to start another adventure.  For the most part Gulmarg has given me some great memories to take away but most of all it has taught me patience.  Much love goes out to the crew at Alpine Ridge Hotel who looked after us for 5 weeks.  Ifshan who graciously lent me his personal laptop power supply when mine blew up.  Bashir and Malek who gave me an insight to the Gulmarg culture and Aijaz and the boys, the workhorses of the hotel.

Bashir and Malek

Mohammed and Aijaz

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24Feb/120

Avalanche Triggered

An overcast day gives us hope that the top of Mt Apharwat will be accessible.  After waiting two and a half hours in line and watching multiple explosives go off, they finally start sending bodies up the gondola.  We traversed left towards the third bowl and dropped down for some powder turns.  One thing's for sure is that riding powder never ever gets old!

We ride back to the base of the gondola and start queing up for another run only to be informed over loudspeaker that an avalanche had been triggered by a skier in the main bowl.  Cloud cover prevented us any view of the avalanche.  Phase 2 was closed for the rest of the day.  The report by the Gulmarg snow safety team was posted shortly.  No casualties in the avalanche... another reminder to respect mother nature and her playground.

http://gulmargsnowsafety.com/index.php?post/2012/02/24/2012-2-24-PCR-Army-Ridge-shot-3

 

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22Feb/120

Snowing Too Much!?

It's been snowing for three days continuously and it's causing havoc on the roads and preventing Phase 2 of the gondola from opening.

Getting dumped on

Locals standing around not knowing what to do

Vehicle stuck in snow

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21Feb/120

Epic Curry Powder

The last few days have been pretty epic.  We've been hiking for our lines and riding a lot of powder.  We were even lucky enough to spot the endangered Himalayan musk deer in one of the bowls off Mt Apharwat.  Unfortunately it managed to escape my camera lense while I was chasing it.  Here's a clip I compiled showcasing some of the highlights of Gulmarg so far.

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15Feb/121

Baba Rishi Trees

On the edge of Gulmarg village lies Baba Rishi trees.  Steep and deep powder make for great tree riding.

Fresh snowfall from the night

Jim shredding Baba Rishi trees

Tea house break

Kashmiri fried potato wedges are delicious

Still snowing

Loading up the Tata for another tree run

 

A straggler hitching a ride

 

We suddenly found our own straggler hanging on for dear life

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12Feb/120

Down To Tangmarg

It had snowed the previous night and as expected phase 2 of the gondola was shut.  Jim and I made the decision to head down to Tangmarg for some tree riding.  Shafi our trusty guide started haggling with the taxi drivers to attain a reasonable price for a ride to our starting point.  To no avail we decided to walk there.  Half hour later we were standing on the road over looking a steep slope of powder strewn with garbage on the top.  Looks like we just stumbled onto one of the local rubbish tips.

Jim decided to drop in first, he climbed onto the ledge and jumped onto the slope thinking he would sink and stop so that he could strap his board on.  When his feet touched the snow he lost his footing and slid down head first towards the fresh pile of garbage!  The party of scavengers made up by crows and macaque monkeys bolted in every direction as a human carcass was screaming towards them.  Shafi and I were gob smacked by what was happening in front of us.  Jim eventually came to a stop but he managed to take down half of Gulmarg's household garabage with him.

We snowboarded down to Tangmarg through heavy slush, only to be greeted by some boys who started throwing snowballs at us.  Then came the long ride back to Gulmarg in the good old Tata (made in India) SUV.  The journey back took us 2 hours instead of the normal 45 minutes thanks to ignorant locals who cannot drive and have no sense to fitting snow chains to their vehicles... incredible India.  Jim fell seriously ill that evening, I wondered if it was something he ingested when he was swimming through Gulmarg's rubbish.

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6Feb/120

A Test of Patience

The relationshop beween the Gulmarg Snow Safety team and the Indian army has turned for the worst.  Over the last 5 years the army had always provided explosives for the ski patrols but now under new terms, the army insists that the backcountry avalanche paths above their bases must also be managed free of cost by the Gulmarg ski patrol or explosives will not be provided.

Gulmarg Snow Safety team are now currently trying to source explosives from alternative sources.  Until then phase 2 of the gondola will be closed indefinitely.

Morale is down with the crew, here are a couple of pictures to remind us of the good times.

Riding with our pherons Indian army
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4Feb/120

It’s Snowing

It has been dumping for 2 days straight and there's approximately 3 feet of snow at the base.  Unfortunately due to politics and poor management ski patrol have not acquired the explosives to release the snow pack at the top of phase 2, so we're playing the waiting game again.

On top of that there was a power surge at the hotel which has fried the power supply of my laptop so updates will be limited.

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