The Indian Himalayas of Gulmarg, Kashmir
This land is home to slopes unlike any other…and in the best of ways. It has the worlds 2nd highest gondola and accesses some of the most amazing free-ride terrain in the world. It truly is unique and one of our favorites. The mountain is massive, with a 5 km ridge-line that gives access to over 33 named bowls and ridges which can be easily reached from the gondola. There’s even more great news – that’s just the frontside of the mountain. We make sure that you get to explore the whole thing. What does a trip to Gulmarg look like? Something like this……
Read and see more about skiing and snowboarding with us in Gulmarg…
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Skiing and Snowboarding in Gulmarg
The gondola rises from 2,700m at its base to over 3,980m (13,054ft) giving a vertical rise of nearly 1,300 vertical metres (4,265 vertical feet). The mountain can receive up to 15 metres of annual snowfall and you can share that with only 200 people, on a busy day. Lift tickets are approximately $5USD per run.
Gulmarg is situated in the Pir Panjal mountain range, one of the 6 mountain ranges that make up the Himalayas, about 400 miles (640km) north of Delhi. It is 56km by road from Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. The town sits at an elevation of around 2700m (8850ft) in a beautiful plateau, surrounded by the 5km ridgeline and summit of Mt. Apharwat (4124m or 13526ft). Gulmarg is on the western tip of the Himalayas and is the first mountain range to get hit by the prevailing South Westerly and Westerly storms that bring vast amounts of moisture from the Indus River floodplains.
Rest assured Gulmarg gets a lot of snow, up to 14 meters (45ft) of snow in a good season. It has been our experience that when the storms roll in, it can snow several meters in a few days, before the blue skies return. The moisture content in the snow can vary, especially with the massive elevation gains in Gulmarg. Lower down, it is not uncommon for the snow to be a little heavier, but as you ride up the gondola, you can ski in really light and dry powder that will make you feel like a hero.
Session 1: Saturday 24th February – Tuesday 6th March 2018.
Session 2: Thursday 8th March – Sunday 18th March 2018.
Session 3: Tuesday 20th March – Friday 30th March 2018.
Package Prices (all prices are in $USD, per person, based on 4 or more people in the group)
Single Occupancy – $2,925
Twin-Share – $2,775
$500 USD per person deposit (non-refundable) will be required to secure a spot. Final balance will be due 2 months before the start of the session.
Early Bird Special
The will be a $200 USD discount for guests who are able to sign up before our early bird deadline. To secure the discount, you must complete our online application form and then submit your $500 USD deposit (non-refundable) before the deadline (June 30th 2017).
We can cater to 3 groups per session. The maximum group size is 6 people, with 2 guides per group, so we can cater for 18 guests per session. If you have 6 people then you can have your own private group. If you have a full group, then we will not add any extra people to it.
This program is ideal for adventurous and experienced skiers/boarders who want to experience lift-accessible backcountry in the Himalayas. Gulmarg is a ski resort like no other; it is a massive mountain, it gets a ton of snow, a busy day is maybe 200 people (during peak season) and they have one of the highest gondolas in the world that gives access of all this. Think Silverton on steroids, but with bigger terrain and better amenities.
You’ll be guided by our team for 11 days and you will see a lot of the mountain. This is a unique adventure. You’ll get to ride some of the best terrain and snow in the world, plus you get to immerse yourself in the local Kashmiri culture, meet the locals and eat some amazing food. You’ll see plenty of wildlife and overall, you’ll come away with a far more rewarding experience than a typical ski or snowboard holiday. As they say, there is your life before Kashmir and then after Kashmir. We’ve been running trips to Gulmarg for more than 7 seasons now, so you’ll be in experienced hands.
Avalanche Safety Training Program
Any group operating in the backcountry needs to be responsible for self-rescue. We put all of our groups through our comprehensive avalanche safety training program. That will include: initial indoor theory session and equipment familiarization; basic transceiver usage; probing; strategic shoveling; advanced single and multiple rescuer practice; snow pits and stability tests. When we are riding in potential avalanche terrain, we follow protocols to limit group exposure to potential avalanche risk.
Guests must be upper-advanced or expert skiers or boarders, confident in off-piste conditions that are rated double-black diamond in difficulty. You should be confident in deep snow and powder and able to ride variable snow conditions. 95% of Gulmarg’s terrain is backcountry, that is unpatrolled and uncontrolled and you will likely be riding in potential avalanche terrain. Guests need to carry full avalanche equipment (beacon, shovel, probe, 1st aid kit) and be proficient in its use. All guests will be put through our in-house, comprehensive avalanche safety training program before entering the backcountry.
Our regular program includes skiing and boarding in the backcountry or sidecountry outside of the ski area boundaries. All guests must carry avalanche safety gear (beacon, shovel, probe, backpack) and know how to use them (see avalanche safety training program above). All guests must have uphill capability so that we have the ability to be able to reach better quality snow.
For skiers, that means fat skis (110mm wide or greater), with touring bindings and skins. For snowboarders, that could be either split boards/skins/collapsible trekking poles or board/snowshoes/trekking poles. Participants should also have an airbag or an Avalung backpack or harness. Conventional airbag cylinder refills are obtainable in Gulmarg. ABS style refills are not always available.
- 11 days fully hosted by The Adventure Project Staff.
- 10 nights’ accommodation, single occupancy or twin-share.
- All dinners and breakfasts at your Gulmarg hotel.
- Daily guiding by Adventure Project staff, including 2 guides per group; 1 Western guide and 1 Kashmiri guide per group, which will enable you to explore as much of Gulmarg as possible, during your stay.
- Comprehensive avalanche safety training at the start of the program.
- Greeting by Adventure Project representative at Srinagar airport.
- Srinagar airport pickup and drop off.
- 1 night on the houseboats, includes dinner and breakfast and return Shikara ride.
- Lift tickets (budget approximately $200 USD for 10 days).
- Lunches (budget approximately $5 USD per day), snacks, bottled water and alcoholic beverages.
- Travel insurance (make sure you are covered for off-piste skiing and for travel to Kashmir).
- Additional taxi services, such as getting picked up in Drung, Baba Reshi or Lienmarg or around town. Price varies on location but taxis are pretty inexpensive in Gulmarg, compared to Western taxi rates.
- Additional tours or services, such as water skiing on Dal Lake, Shikara tours on Dal Lake.
- Indian Tourist visa (e-TV is a fast and convenient service, for eligible nationals and cost is approximately $48 – $60 USD, depending on nationality).
- Gratuity for Adventure Project staff is not included.
How to Get to Gulmarg
You’ll need to take an international flight to Delhi, India. Most flights arrive late in the evening so you will probably need to stay overnight in Delhi. Then the next day (the morning of Day 1), you can take a short domestic flight to Srinagar, where we will pick you up and take you by jeep the final 56km’s to Gulmarg. Please be aware that security at the airports is very tight and we recommend leaving as much time as possible to get through the frequent security checks.
Depart Home Country for Delhi (DEL), India. You will likely need to overnight in Delhi. We recommend the Red Fox Hotel in the Aerocity complex near International Airport and Terminal 3.
Day 1 – Depart Delhi for Srinagar International Airport (SXR) in the morning. Choose a flight that guarantees arrival at Srinagar Airport around noon. Greeting by Adventure Project staff at airport. Transfer via private transportation to Gulmarg, approximate 2 hour journey. Check in to hotel, settle in and then indoor avalanche safety presentation after dinner.
Day 2 – On-snow avalanche safety training. The morning begins with a comprehensive outdoor avalanche safety training session, followed by skiing and the formulation of groups. For the next 8 days expect to skiing in one of the most awe-inspiring destinations you will ever see with some of the most renowned powder skiing on earth. From the endless Himalayan vistas off the top of Mount Apharwat, to the skiing the Shark Fin, touring to the Big White or skiing some of the best tree runs to towns like Drang (descending 5800ft of altitude), Tangmarg or skiing to the Baba Reshi Shrine through one of the steeper and longer tree runs available. This trip offers an amazing cultural experience as you get to interact with the friendly people of Kashmir.
Day 3 – Ski/ride Gulmarg.
Day 4 – Ski/ride Gulmarg.
Day 5 – Ski/ride Gulmarg.
Day 6 – Ski/ride Gulmarg.
Day 7 – Ski/ride Gulmarg.
Day 8 – Ski/ride Gulmarg.
Day 9 – Ski/ride Gulmarg.
Day 10 – Depart Gulmarg for Srinagar and overnight on the houseboats on Dal Lake overlooking the Himalayas. Most people choose to leave early for Srinagar, so that they can get some shopping in (not to be missed!) and maximize their time on the houseboats.
Day 11 – Optional 6:30am tour to floating vegetable markets on Dal Lake (not included). AM departure to Srinagar airport in private transportation. Fly to Delhi. Most international flights depart Delhi either late that night or very early in the morning the next day.
We choose to stay at only the best hotels in Gulmarg. We have three preferred hotel options in Gulmarg with pricing to match. For those that want the highest level of accommodation, then guests can choose the Hotel Highland Park, one of the oldest hotels in Gulmarg with an excellent reputation. You will have your own personal assistant that tends to your room and the rooms are warm and cozy. Our second hotel of choice is Nedous Hotel. This is the equivalent of a Western 3 Star hotel and is a slightly cheaper option for those on a tighter budget than the Highlands. We house our guests in upgraded Suite rooms and you will have your own butler on hand. The rooms are nice and warm and the hotel has it’s own bar. Our final hotel it the Hotel Hilltop which has the best location in the whole of Gulmarg and is only a very short and easy, 3 minute walk to get to the base of the gondola. The Hilltop represents the best value for money hotel option that we have. Return to the Top
Dal Lake Houseboats
Included in the price of your stay is a night on the houseboats on Dal Lake in Srinagar. This is a great chance to unwind and relax on your final night in Kashmir. This is where the Beatles used to stay during the 70’s and many dignitaries and heads of state have also stayed. You will be waited on hand and foot by the resident manager who will cook up a sumptuous dinner and breakfast for you (included in the price). The houseboats will leave a lasting impression of the famous Kashmiri hospitality. You can take an optional early morning tour to the floating markets before your transfer to the Srinagar Airport.
Why Go to Gulmarg?
Skiing Kashmir is one of those experiences you will never forget. However it is not a place for everyone. If you are expecting a western-style ski trip, then Gulmarg is probably not for you. You need to have a certain level of patience as being in India, things never seem to run as smoothly as you would like. The saying in these parts is “relax, you are in Kashmir.” If you have a laid-back frame of mind, then that will certainly help. There can be power outages and blackouts (they never seem to last long) and the gondola can sometimes take it’s time to open. Also, bear in mind that Kashmir has come from pretty turbulent times. We encourage all guests to research the history of Kashmir as it had long been in a state of unrest. But for the last 10 years now, relative peace and prosperity is returning to Kashmir and especially to Gulmarg. You will see a massive military presence in Kashmir and Gulmarg. Gulmarg has 2 campuses of the Indian Army high-altitude mountain warfare training school, so you will see plenty of troops out on maneuvers. Most of these soldiers are very friendly and will say hello to you or wave as they ride past in their big army trucks. After a short while you get used to seeing it and quickly become de-sensitized.
It is exciting to see new changes each year when returning to India and Gulmarg as the country and the state of Kashmir start to prosper. The new Terminal 3 at Delhi International Airport is an impressive new change. Srinagar also has completed its’ new terminal that vastly improves on the old one. Gulmarg is changing too: a new quad chairlift has been built on the mountain which has opened up better terrain for intermediate skiers on the upper mountain and now many hotels have wireless internet. Let’s hope the mountain and the town keep moving forward in the right direction and tourist’s numbers continue to grow in Gulmarg as the locals really rely on money from visitors as their main source of income.
So don’t come to Gulmarg if you are looking for something like you’d get back home. If you are up for a bit of an adventure, a trip out of the ordinary, then Gulmarg is the place for you. The skiing is world-class: it is truly possible to do heli-ski type runs from off of a gondola and to only pay a few dollars for doing so. The scale of the mountain is vast, the runs are long and the snow can be out of this world. The locals are extremely friendly and you will see why the Kashmiri people have the reputation as being the most hospitable in the world. Return to the Top