Bernard's Photos: Blog en-us (C) Bernard's Photos (Bernard's Photos) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:22:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:22:00 GMT Bernard's Photos: Blog 120 80 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.

Gulmarg Day 12

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.

pano_D300_70225-70226 70236

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.




(Bernard's Photos) Gulmarg India Kashmir mountains paper trees powder skiing Sat, 31 Mar 2012 08:40:53 GMT
Photos from Day 11 of Skiing in Gulmarg - Heli Drop Day To see all the photos from day 11 of skiing in Gulmarg , go here:

I’ve really got to hand it to Bill Barker and the rest of his guides at Bill’s Trips.  They saw the potential for a major gondola shutdown days in advance and at that time started to put plans in motion to keep their guests skiing; and not just tired old Phase 1 laps, we’re talkin’ proper Himalayan scale skiing.  So it was on Wednesday morning that we gathered early and headed down to Gulmarg Heliskiing for a special one-off trip.  The plan was that the heli would take us up to a major peak neighboring Mt. Apharwat drop us off and then just fly away.  From that moment on it would be up to us to navigate out own way down nearly 7000 vertical feet and 7.5 miles back to Drang where we would get a taxi ride back to Gulmarg from the other side of the river.  Here’s the route we ended up skiing:

Gulmarg Day 11

From the 13,500 ft summit of Mt. Sunshine (I think that’s what it was called) say bye bye to Mr. Helicopter as he leaves us to ourselves at map point 1.


The great hope for the recent storm was that it would load up the unstable snow pack enough to trigger a natural avalanche cycle that would clear out the pesky depth hoar that had been plaguing the region.  This only partially worked out.  Yes, the new snow triggered natural avalanches and some of them did go to the ground, but many of them did not and instead only affected the newly fallen snow.  The result for us was a bit of a maze of slide paths, safe zones, and suspect slopes and all of it in infrequently skied terrain.  It made for a day of what one of guide, Mark Brown, characterized as “proper adventure skiing”.  Indeed it was.  Here’s a photo of the kind of ugliness we worked to avoid:


The photo below is of our first pitch taken from map point 2.  It’s about 1000 vertical feet of somewhat crusted powder between map points 1 and 2.  Three of those specs are skiers on the hill.  It was a long run.


This run took us into some more protected terrain where we found a bit of a bowl.  The snow in there was really quite nice so we decided to skin back up the ridge from map point 2 to 3


and then have a bit of a ski



Moving along, we then descended the next 2000 or so vertical feet picking our way through boney ridges, patches of powder, and slide paths.  The photo below, taken from near map point 5 looking upward to the slope marked by map point 4, illustrates the point.


We came onto that broad slope from just above the knob on the horizon line above it.  Just down from there we came to a group of shepherds’ huts at map point 5 where we had lunch


After that it was a bit of low angle tree skiing, some long just-barely-steeper-than-flat gliding, and a couple of river crossings at map point 6.


You can see our tracks on the right side of the photo above.

We then glided some more along what must be gentle hiking trails that parallel the river in the summer.  It all sounds kind of boring, but the local was exotic, the scenery was pretty, and the sense of adventure was high. 

How exotic was the locale?  Well, we eventually came upon a meadowy confluence where two rivers that formed the mountains all round us met.  Thanks to some snow-covered foot bridges, it was easy to cross.  Then after a short scramble up an embankment at the edge of the meadow we took a rest on a nice high flat spot with a good view…right next to an Indian army outpost of some sort at map point 7.   This little outpost wasn’t much to look at, but it was strategically placed to maintain a commanding view above the meadow and up both river valleys.   I wasn’t really sure what the photography protocols around such a place were so I stayed a bit camera shy and this I the best shot I got of it


At first, the guard to came to the gate to check us out stood and watched us silently form the gate.  Gradually he started chatting with a few of the skiers in our party.  Eventually he got another guy and came out to give us all a spot of tea, which was really more of a sweet  Kashmiri chai.  In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to be so camera shy.  Bummer.

From there, we followed the trail along the river a bit farther and eventually met up with the drainage that we skied out of on Day 3 at map point 8.  Not long after that we were back in Drang, though this time we crossed a much more substantial bridge right before we got to the village instead of skiing through the village.  Once on the other side of the again there was nothing to do but park the skis up against the mining trucks and wait for the taxis to show up.



An awesome day!

(Bernard's Photos) Drang Gulmarg India Kashmir heli helicopter mountains powder skiing Sat, 31 Mar 2012 06:58:36 GMT
Photos from Day 10 of Skiing in Gulmarg - Inbounds skinning To see all the photos from day 10 of skiing in Gulmarg , go here:

With Phase 2 of the gondola shut down until what looked like (and turned out to be for our purposes) the end of time, the obvious question arose: What to do? What to do? What to do? Answer: earn your turns! Our general strategy for this day was to skin up in the inbounds part of the ski area and ski a couple of pitches. Here’s the map of our route:

Gulmarg Day 10

The part that shoots off to the upper right is the way back to Hotel Highlands Park and is basically a repeat of the part of Day 6 after the paper trees.

Map point 1 is pretty much at the group of stores and restaurants above the gondola midstation (it has an actual name, but I’ve forgotten what it is).  Anyway, that’s where we put our skins on and began the straightforward ascent to map point 2.  We knew there was a party ahead of us but it wasn’t a problem as we made our way up the spine and through the trees in solitude.  This is what we saw when we arrived at map point 2:


Obviously we weren’t the only ones with the basic plan to skin to where the gondola should have been able to take us in the first place.  Nevertheless we got on the skin track and made our way up.

Looking at the gorgeous sunshine in the photo above kind of makes it easy to forget that this was all a brand new snow on top of snowpack that was already known to be sitting on top of a dangerous layer of depth hoar right at the ground.  So, when we got to point 3 on the map we decided to dig a pit to see what the snowpack was really like.


Here’s a detail of what is essentially a layer of unconsolidated ball bearings we found in a layer just above the ground, i.e. about 8 feet below the surface:


While we were going through all this trouble--which, by the way, wasn't trouble at all, was absolutely fascinating, and would later reveal itself to be the highlight of the day--the people ahead of us inevitably made it to their destinations and decided to start skiing.  Predicatably, they eventually made it down to us:


So this guy in the above photo beat us to first tracks on our section of the ridge, but he was far enough out that it really didn’t make much difference.  The thing that made the difference was the whole guided(!) party that came after him and low cut our lines.  This was not a pleasant moment.  The thing about Gulmarg is that to really maximize your vertical you have to ski a lot of sidehill lines rather than true fall lines.  This is what the guide was doing, but he was clearly unaware of some basic powder etiquette that would have diverted him and his party to some the many other unskied acres that were not directly in our fall line.  Grrr.  As I said, it was not a pleasant moment.

Eventually our snow science session was over and it came time to ski.  This is the point where I discovered that my deep acclimatization to typical conditions in the Pacific Northwest left me unprepared for some the subtle considerations of cold, clear, high altitude conditions.  Naturally, I took off my skis when we decided to dig the pit and just as naturally I stuck them tail-first into the snow.  I did not pay attention to the fact that my skis had some accumulated snow stuck to their black bases and that those black bases were facing the sun.  Well, the sun melted the snow just a bit and the cold air iced the snow just a bit and the end result was that when it came time for me to put my skis on and go, the iced based just stuck like crazy.  I tried to scrape them off, but they still stuck and ruined my run from map point 3 to map point 4.  Ugh!

Once we were all a map point 4 we decided to skin back up for another run because that was a fairly short pitch and it just made sense to try again, though this time we’d go for a spot a bit higher up.  So, skins back on, we headed up.  By now, it was midday and it seemed that half the population of India had finally made it out of bed and decided to go for a bit of a ski.  Nothing like a frothing mob of powderhounds to cut into one’s sense of solitude.

As we made our way up, the weather slowly started to worsen.  Clouds moved in and the wind picked up.  By the time we's skinned up to the top station of the chair at map point 5 the wind was really howling.  As I took off my skins it was all I could do to keep them from getting blown to Pakistan.  At that point the wind made it clear that fun time was over, photography time was out of the question, and getting off the mountain time was right at hand. So that’s what we did.  From map point 5 we traversed out much as we did on Day 6, except we didn’t stop off at the paper trees choosing to make best time for home instead.

(Bernard's Photos) Gulmarg India Kashmir mountains powder skiing Thu, 29 Mar 2012 08:03:38 GMT
Days 7, 8, & 9 of skiing in Gulmarg - The Unseen Days The last post was for Friday, February 3rd, day 6 and it told of the coming of a much anticipated storm. Saturday, day 7 really brought the storm. All lift operations in the ski area were closed, as they would have been anywhere. No problem. I went out with our guides Sam Dunlop and Mark Brown for a short tour on Monkey Hill. Unfortunately, Eric was sick that day so he wasn’t able to join us. That wasn’t much of a loss for him because the skiing wasn’t really much to write home about (note that I’m writing this from home, not to home so everything remains OK) and I didn’t bother to take any photos of the excursion. We just toured through some open evergreen forests, which was very pleasant to be in, but not particularly photogenic.

Monkey Hill is the prominent lump of trees seen in the center of the shot at the south edge of the Gulmarg plateau in this photo taken a few days later


The standard thing to do is to skin up the hill and then ski down the north side, which is facing away from us in that north-looking photo. The standard is standard because A) it conveniently takes you down to the road that goes around the perimeter of the plateau for an easy trip back, and B) it’s north facing. Because of all the people that had already hit the standard routes over the past day or so we chose to descend the less commonly skied south side. We skied through the trees you can see in the photo down to the small valley at the foot of the hill and then skinned back up to the plateau.

I’d been fighting some kind of "Delhi belly"ish stomach thing for the prior couple of days and on Sunday, day 8, it finally got the better of me and just laid me out for the day.

A little Sunday evening cipro did wonders for my outlook (though it did not actually cure me; I’ve continued to feel the slowly slowly tapering effects of that illness for about a month) and I was ready to hit the slopes on Monday, the bright clear day right after the storm:

But were those slopes ready for me? In a word, "no".

And now we come to the heart of the matter, the nut, the crux, the Tootsie Roll center of the Tootsie Pop: a standoff between the ski patrol responsible for the safety of the ski area and the Indian army who hold all the explosives required for proper avalanche control. The details of this melodrama are outlined in the "Military Explosives Injunction 2012", which is somewhat of an open letter written by the Gulmarg Ski Patrol and is available in PDF form from the link on this page:

It’s just a short letter so I highly encourage you to give it a read because it gives a real insight as to why skiing in Gulmarg involves so much more than just mountains and lifts and snow and how it’s not like skiing anywhere else I know of.

(People who enjoyed reading that might also enjoy these glimpses into operational life of Gulmarg: weathering out the storms, mission creep)

At the risk of destroying whatever narrative mystery there may be in these posts I’ll tell you right now that the explosives standoff continued for days and Phase 2 of the Gondola never opened for the entire second week of our trip.

So that was the news for Monday, day 9. We made the best of the situation by turning around 180° from where that photo was taken and skiing the trees on the low rolling terrain of Phase 1. Nice powder, but again, not very photogenic.

If you're uncomfortable with the sporadic state of affairs around the limitaitons placed on the Gulmarg ski patrol to do their basic job then the way to do something about it is to complain to the right fellow in the Indian government, namely this guy:


The above message was presneted by the Gulmarg Ski Patrol at the February 7th Avalanche Awareness talk.  To make it easier for you to copy and paste into things, the text above reads:

"Ask yourself...

Would you come to Gulmarg next winter if Gulmarg [ski patrol] does not have explosives for avalanche control?

Nothing will change in Gulmarg unless you voi[ce your] demands to the Jammu & Kashmir Dept of T[ourism]

Farooq Shah
[email protected]

'Military explosives are not acceptable'

'Brian Newman ['s] plan [is]"


(That last part is a bit to cut off so I'm not sure if I got the transcription exactly right.  Basically it's meant ot say that Brian Newman, the snow safety officer for Gulmarg, has worked out a modern and reasonable plan for responsibly managing explosives and they just need to be able to implement it.)




(Bernard's Photos) Gulmarg India Kashmir gondola mountains powder ski patrol skiing Wed, 21 Mar 2012 07:58:15 GMT
Photos from Day 6 of Skiing in Gulmarg - Paper Trees To see all the photos from day 6 of skiing in Gulmarg, go here:

(A quick note for those of you paying attention at home:  My last post was for day 4 but now we're on day 6, what happened to Day 5?  Ski touring a 13,000 ft turns out to be pretty exhausting so that was a rest day for me which I mostly spent walking around metropolitain Gulmarg with Dave Marchi.)

Day 6 brought a change in the weather. Everybody likes skiing in sunshine but since it had been about two weeks since the last storm a fresh multi day weather system that started to blow in on Thursday night was a very welcome thing. We woke on Friday morning to a very nice storm. No one had any illusion that they’d be opening Phase 2 anytime soon, but we weren’t yet in the full belly of the storm so Phase 1 was open, as was the chair. Knowing that most of the terrain accessed by the chair was already tracked out, we made the strategic decision to wait a bit for the snow to accumulate. So, at the crack of 2:00 PM we headed out for a run on the route shown below:

Gulmarg Day 6

For reference, Point 1 on the map is the top of the chair, and point 3 is the doorstep of Hotel Highlands Park.

Anyway, the day was a pretty straightforward thing: ride the chair, traverse out to the north on as high a line as possible, sidestep up a ridge and then ski the "paper trees" along the top of the ridge in the background of this shot taken several days later:D300_70014

What, you may ask, is a paper tree? Well, I’m not exactly sure what the actual species is but I think they’re a birch tree of some sort. They get their name from the way their bark forms little papery curls. It only occurs to now as I write this weeks later that I never took a close up photo of those curls. D’OH! Well, now I guess I have a reason to go back. In the meantime, a YouTube video with close-ups of paper trees and made by some random Aussies by the sound of it is available here.

It’s hard not to talk about the paper tress without falling back to cliche words like "mystical" and "magical". The truth of the matter, however, is that they really do give the place a certain feel. Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent my life skiing in evergreen conifer that the light and airy feel of the paper trees is so compelling. Regardless, they’re great, and wish we could have skied more of them.

Here’s a shot of our guide, Sam Dunlop, making it look easy on the tele skis (Map 2)

And now here’s one of Eric (Map 2)


When we entered this stand of trees and came to the first open glade Eric and I played rock-paper-scissors to see who would get to ski and who would get to shoot. If you want to see the result of that, then here you go.  Thanks for the great shot, Eric!

(Bernard's Photos) Gulmarg India Kashmir mountains new paper trees powder skiing Tue, 20 Mar 2012 08:32:45 GMT
Photos from Day 4 of Skiing in Gulmarg - Back Back Bowl To see all the photos from day 4 of skiing in Gulmarg, go here:

This day’s route was pretty similar to the route on day 2: a skin from the top of Phase 2 to the top of Mt. Apharwat and then a descent down the backside to the army road.  The two differences were that Eric wasn’t able to ski that day because he was ill, and rather than skiing the first backside bowl we did a skinning traverse around Shark Fin to get to the next bowl over.  Here’s the overall map of the route:

Gulmarg Day 4

This first photo shows the bowl we skied on Day 2 and, in fact, still shows our tracks.  To recap, the snow in that bowl has been sitting there for about two weeks and four of the tracks in that photo are ours from two days before.  Not exactly chair 2 at Alpental after a storm, eh? (Map 1)


This next photo, which spans a 220º field of view, kind of puts the bowl above in context (Map 1).


In the above photo, the top of Phase two is hidden by the prominence in the center of the photo.  The Gulmarg ridge extends from both sides of the prominence.  To the left you can see pretty much the whole north half of the ridge extending toward the Himalayas in the distance on the right side of the frame.  To the right you the can see the south half trailing off into the clouds just to the right of the prominence.

After skinning the traverse around Shark Fin we found ourselves here: (Map 2)


It's business time!  The photo above is the view of the Himalayas to the south of Gulmarg.  It’s the first shot in a panorama that you can find in the Day 4 gallery.  Though the slopes down from that point look delightful, they are, in fact, a thin and crusty layer over sharp and jagged rocks and we have no intention of skiing them.  The real money is the untracked north-facing bowl directly to the right of this shot.  In other words, this one: (Map 2)


Check out the Day 4 gallery for an excerpted view of the skier in the above photo.

After skiing that pitch we worked our way out of that bowl through a long stretch of low-angle slope broken up by rolling terrain.  This photo is from, well, if not exactly the bottom of the drainage then at least the point where it made sense to put the skins back on and work our way out to (sort of) the top of the north end of the Gulmarg ridge. (Map 3)


Once we skinned up high enough we were able to look back and see where we came from: (Map 4)


The summit of Mt. Apharwat is the round, snowy, and slightly rock-speckled peak on the left side of the frame.  The next peak to the right, with all the exposed rock faces is Shark Fin.  The bowl that we skied on Day 2 lies between Mt. Apharwat and Shark Fin and the bowl to the right, between Shark Fin and the large snowy pyramid in the center of the photo, is the one we skied on Day 4.  The stopping point in the previous photo is way down in that valley below.

At this point, in the day it was getting a little late in the afternoon and weather had started to move in.  This made speed a bit more of a priority than photos, so this was my last shot.  That’s a shame too because we hit a pitch of excellent powder (below Map 5) in the trees at the end of the ridge and down to the army road below.  I consider that my best run of the whole trip.

As before on Day 2, we walked the road for about the first half of the route from map point 6 to the gate of the army base at map point 7, and we skied on the road for the second half.  Once we passed through the gate, there wan't much more to do than stand around and wait for the taxi to come and pick us up. (Map 7)


You can see the end of the rigde that we skied off of in the background of the above photo.  The specific pitch, however, is actually a fair bit around the corner and out of view behind what we can see here.

(Bernard's Photos) Gulmarg India Kashmir mountains powder skiing Wed, 14 Mar 2012 06:31:24 GMT
Photos from Day 3 of Skiing in Gulmarg-Drang To see all the photos from day 3 of skiing in Gulmarg, go here:

The town of Gulmarg sits on a plateau about 2000 ft above the floor of the Kashmir valley. If there is sufficient snow then you can ski from Gulmarg (or higher) down to places closer to the valley floor, such as the village of Drang, and then work your way back to Tangmarg, the gateway town where you can take a taxi back to Gulmarg. This is what we did on day 3. Here's the route:

Gulmarg Day 3

The day began with a short (you quickly recalibrate in Gulmarg) skin up from the top of Phase 1 to a point to the south where we would have access to a drainage that would take us below Gulmarg. (Map 1)


Note that this is one of the tricky parts of skiing Gulmarg: not winding up in a drainage that will take you far far away from where you want to be.  Here's a photo of Bill Barker, the “Bill” of Bill's Trips, skiing the upper part of this route. (Map 2)


The snow was OK in places here, but really, this day wasn’t about skiing as activity unto itself, it was really about skiing as travel; as a way to get you from where you are now to a whole other different place entirely.  This sort of thing involves activities such as crossing streams: (Map 3)


These fellows in the photo above are another one of Bill’s groups we have the privilege of hanging out with for the first week of our trip: a great group of Aussie snowboarders.  We’ll see more of them later.

One of the trippiest things about skiing in Gulmarg is being on your skis, minding your own business, and coming upon totally random stuff.  For example, here are a bunch of massive pipe segments that will someday be part of a hydroelectric project being constructed in this valley. (Map 4)


After skiing across bridge by the hydro construction and then after a skis-off hoof through the forest, we eventually came to the essentially roadless and snowbound village of Drang: (Map 5)


This was another clear highlight of the trip, and one that is especially hard to put into words.  After descending from this high alpine environment we suddenly found ourselves materializing in this simple farming village in our rainbow-colored plastic clothing, boots, and skis.  The lives in that village are so unlike mine that like mind it’s probably about as close to feeling like an astronaut as I expect I’ll ever experience.

Bill arranged for us to pay a visit and have tea at one of the houses in Drang.  This isn’t necessarily my favorite photo from Drang, but it’s probably the astronautiest: (Map 6)


The children of Drang were a delight.  As we skied the path out of town they’d ask to hitch rides on the back of your skis.  Here’s a shot of Eric giving one a ride (note that this shot is a bit of a photographic first for me: a ski shot taken while skiing): (Map 7)


Finally, at the end of the path, you come to a bridge that’s the way out of town.  Even though the bridge is rickety and has some sketchy/missing planks, the trickiest part of the crossing is actually taking your skis off to get onto the bridge in the first place.  It’s not that the place where you take of your skis is steep or icy or rocky or somehow perilous.  No, the tricky part comes from the fact that by the time you get to that point the kids who rode the backs of your skis down there join the kids who are already waiting there and together they all want/insist on using your skis to go sledding.  Of course there’s no saying “no” because the kids are so sincerely thrilled to get 10 vertical feet (at the most) of snow riding in: (Map 8)


It’s pure winter joy and once they’ve got your equipment, it’s hard to get it back out of their hands because everyone is having so much fun.  But as with all magic, reality eventually intrudes and you have to get your stuff back so you can take it across the bridge and begin the long walk to Tangmarg. (Map 9)


where the taxis are waiting to take you back up to Gulmarg. (Map 10)


(Bernard's Photos) Drang Gulmarg India Kashmir mountains powder skiing Sat, 10 Mar 2012 09:11:27 GMT
Photos from Day 2 of Skiing in Gulmarg - Back Bowl To see all the photos from day 2 of skiing in Gulmarg, go here:

We only had a one run on this day, but it was a long one.  The day started with a gondola ride to the top of phase 2 and then from there we skinned to darn near the summit of Mt. Apharwat (13,700 ft), which brought us to the edge of a high alpine bowl behind the broad ridge you see from Gulmarg:


Even though it hadn't snowed in about two weeks, the altitude was high enough and winds had been low enough that the snow was very well preserved on the north aspects.  That made the skiing a lot like this:


This bowl lies at the head of a drainage that basically runs parallel to the entire Gulmarg ridge, which made for a very long ski in some pretty low-angle terrain.  It was truly sublime.  Here's a photo from probably three quarters of the way along this drainage and somewhat before the point where we would have to put the skins back on to get out of the drainage and onto a bit of a shelf that led to the end of the ridge:


We started in teh dark bowl on the upper left edge of the photo above and skied out that entire valley.  You can just barely make out our track on the left side of the photo.

Finally, once we gained the shelf we were able to make it to the end of the rigde where we found a beautiful untracked north-facing pitch of soft, deep snow.  Here we are standing atop this pitch looking out across the Kashmir valley to Nanga Parbat (I really can't stress how completely massively huge that mountain is.  The photo really doesn't do it justice because we're probably at around 12,500 ft in this photo and that thing 85 miles to the north of us in Pakistan and looks every bit of its 26,600 ft).


And then finally here's the upper part of the pitch that was the cherry on top of our day:


From here it was about another 1500 ft to the valley floor where we made it to a road.  A 3K walk along the road to the point where we could ski another 3K on the road brought us to the inside(!) of a gate that the Indian army has in place to control access to the road.  After strolling through the gate we called a taxi to take us back to Hotel Highlands Park.  Here's the path for the day:

Gulmarg Day 2

Here are the locations where the above photos were taken (point 1 is at the south edge of the photo a the top of Phase 2) :

Photo Map point
1 2
2 3
3 6
4 10
5 11 (but actually a bit downhill from there)



(Bernard's Photos) Gulmarg India Kashmir mountains powder skiing Fri, 09 Mar 2012 09:54:26 GMT
Photos from Delhi I'm glad I was able to get some Gulmarg photos posted earlier so people could start to get a just a taste of what it was the trip was like. But now things are starting in earnest: I just posted the complete set of photos from Delhi, where we spent the first two days of the trip. There are photos from a number of different locales in Delhi, but the two places that really stand out for me are Qutub Minar and Chandni Chowk.

D300_68653 Qutub Minar is a giant sandstone tower that sits in the midst of a complex of medieval architecture in the south of Delhi. (Here’s a link to a Wikipedia article about it There are towers and mosques and other buildings on the site, but honestly, the overall purpose of the complex is still a bit unclear to me. Regardless, it certainly is impressive. One unexpected delight was all the groups of school children visiting the site.



D300_68879 Chandni Chowk is the main market thoroughfare through Old Delhi.  It's a complete madhouse, total sensory overload, and one of the true highlights of the entire trip for me.

(Bernard's Photos) Chandni Chowk Delhi India New Delhi Qutab Minar Fri, 09 Mar 2012 09:04:11 GMT