This is why you travel halfway across the world to ski in this small corner of the Himalayan Mountain Range. Put simply, the terrain accessed by the gondola of Gulmarg is unlike anywhere else. With stability, visibility and new snow, multi-thousand foot lines of Kashmiri powder are your reward. The chaos is never ending in Gulmarg, but when all the ingredients come together for a day off the gondola, you’ll never forget it.
When stability and visibility are issues in Gulmarg, if conditions warrant, there is a chairlift that offers the ability to access higher elevation terrain on the mountain. It’s not the big lines that are available when the gondola is open to the top, but it gives you a chance to run some laps, get a feel for some of the local terrain, as well as access the coldest possible snow after a recent dump. This shot is of The Adventure Project crew who were first gondola and first chair several times over the past few weeks in Gulmarg.
If you go to Gulmarg to ski, or like me, guide, it’s paramount to develop a relationship with other local ski guides. As much as some guides might not like this sort of move in various places around the world, in Gulmarg it’s an important, essential step to getting to know the people, terrain and overall experience that is skiing in this unique part of the world. Over the last few weeks I was fortunate to work with two standout local guides-Dawood, and Jeelani Rather. The latter, “Jilla” is seen here in this picture shredding some Kashmiri powder off Phase 1 of the gondola. If you ever have the opportunity to explore this special corner of the snowy world make sure you link up with a solid local guide like Dawood or Jilla. And don’t worry, as friendly as they are, they still shred the hill as hard as anyone out there.
One of the great things about ski guide work is developing strong relationships with your clients. While this isn’t always the case, I know for me it’s a personal goal to try and foster a connection that’s grounded in what I call the “Double ‘S’ Program” as much as possible. Those S’s stand for Safety and Stoke. You can’t have stoke without safety in my world, so when you do end up working with clients that get that, and they want to get after is as well, AND they have a sense of humor, well then, I’d say that ski guide is in luck. This past trip to Gulmarg I feel fortunate to have worked with two prior clients from my other guide work in Alaska. One is the CEO for Avatech, an up-and-coming proactive avalanche safety company that is changing the way professionals see, interpret and make decisions in the backcountry. The guy completely pitted in the photo, Philipp Becker, is a second client based in Switzerland. He’s as funny as they come under the right circumstances, but as you can see here, he knows how to get barreled in the mountains when conditions permit. This is of course another good trait to have when working with skiers in the mountains.
This last sequence was shot by Brint Markle. It speaks to what happens when it dumps for days on end in Gulmarg, which happens quite a lot. You want to be in the high alpine, touring, skiing big lines coated in perfect Himalayan powder, but when storm days arrive Gulmarg has a few options of worthy tree skiing close by. It was in these trees that our Adventure Project crew took lap after lap of incredible powder to scratch the itch before venturing to higher terrain. I love these two shots not only because I remember the turn so well, but because the frame is actual 9 shots long because the turn was so deep I couldn’t pop back up for far longer than expected. These two shots also remind me that in the end, no matter where you’re at in the world, skiing powder with friends is about as good as it gets.
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