Bernard's Photos | Photos from Day 3 of Skiing in Gulmarg-Drang

Photos from Day 3 of Skiing in Gulmarg-Drang

March 10, 2012

To see all the photos from day 3 of skiing in Gulmarg, go here: http://www.bernardsphotos.com/skiing/2012/gulmarg/jan31

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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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

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