Photos from Day 12 of Skiing in Gulmarg - The Last Hurrah
To see all the photos from day 12 of skiing in Gulmarg, visit this gallery.
Our last day of ski day in Gulmarg saw no change in the avalanche conditions and no change in the explosives standoff. Luckily, they did decide to open the chair that day as they had the day before. Eric and I had some schedule constraints because we needed to catch a ride back down to Srinagar in the afternoon, but we still had time to ski this route.
Here’s a photo that shows both Phase 2 of the gondola and the chair. The top of the chair is map point 1.
There are a couple of interesting things to note in that photo (to see all the detail you might have to click through to see the photo a bit larger in its home gallery). First, note the thoroughly tracked out slopes below the top of the chair. Those tracks were put in by people hiking like we did on Day 10 and skiing from people skiing the chair on Day 11, like we didn’t. Now note the paucity of tracks above the chair and the teensy weensy dots below the gondola lift towers. Those teensy weensy dots are people, around 50 of them, skinning up to get to all that untracked snow…that hasn’t been avalanche controlled. Now note the run out zones for those slopes and how they intersect the fields of tracked out snow toward the right side of the photo. This is obviously not a good combination of circumstances and the ski patrol ended up shutting the chair down in the middle of the day to keep that kind of thing from happening. Luckily, they did this right after we got our ride up. Yay!
We quickly traversed out along those snowfields and to the paper trees we skied on Day 6 off the right side of the photo above. Rather than ski down from the traverse entry point like we did on that day, we put on our skins and zigzagged almost 1000 vertical feet up the ridge. The photo below was taken at map point 2 and looks out to the south where you can just make out the gondola towers against the sky along the horizon of the farthest ridge.
Not much farther along we made to our high point and skied this north facing bowl at map point 3.
The snow in the photo was plenty good, but the snow below my feet where I was standing to take this picture was fascinating. It was a relatively dense layer on top that was maybe a foot thick and then it just gave way to completely unconsolidated granular snow several feet deep. This stuff had absolutely no cohesion and was more like a layer of BB’s than a layer of snow. It would not support any weight so it behaved like quicksand. Really really weird stuff.
After skiing that upper bowl we contoured around to get back to another drainage and into some paper trees to the south of map point 4
The photo below is an overview looking back at the terrain we’d just skied.
We ascended the ridge along the leftmost edge of the stand of paper trees on the left to the point where it meets the rightmost edge of the stand of paper trees on the right. The bowl that we skied at the top of our run is kind of ninety degrees to this view, but you can just see the edge of it in the shadows on the right side of the ridge. When we contoured around from the bottom of that bowl we came into the drainage seen in the center of the photo and that’s essentially what we skied out.
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