Snowboarding in Gulmarg
Since Xiker worships any embodiment of a snow god and would sacrifice anything–including yours truly–on the altar of snow, all for the adrenaline-inducing sport of snowboarding… it was only fitting that we go all the way to Gulmarg, a popular ski destination in India.
We found a snowy paradise. Bluebird skies (a few clouds here and there but easily ignored), dry and powdery soft, and steep fields of virgin, thigh-high snow. Best snowfall we’ve seen, even after spending winter 2011-2012 in Summit County, CO!
At first, I was reluctant to leave warm environs and gave Xiker a hard time, but by the end of that one perfect day, I had to concede to Xiker that it was all worth the time, money and effort spent.
Snowboarding in Gulmarg was much more affordable than I thought it’d be, too. Besides the expensive-for-India-but-relatively-cheap lodgings and restaurant food, the local shops didn’t insist on hiking up their prices for the same ‘ol necessities (water, toilet paper and chocolate).
Lift passes were about 45 bucks for both of us, total, and we were able to rent a full setup–boots, bindings, board, plus pants, gloves and goggles–for 550 rupees each (that’s 10 bucks for ya’ll back in the states). 70 bucks a day for 2 peeps with rentals? That’s cheap, yo!
There were, as usual, more Indian tourists than not, and many looked like it was their first time ever seeing snow. Still, was surprised to see a whole lot of foreigners up there, and many of them were staying for the season.
Interestingly enough, almost all of the season-birds were well equipped with avalanche gear and equipment for free-riding (that means to go hiking far into the backcountry to make fresh tracks). Makes sense, since Gulmarg has only three lifts– one chair, which starts halfway and ends before the top, and one gondola line, split into two phases. So, to get out of the common zone and find truly untouched snow, one would have to go to the top by gondola then hike along the crest and head down another slope…at their own risk.
Enuff chitchat: heeeeere’s Gulmarg!
And videos of the Kashmiri Devil in his element