Photos from Day 6 of Skiing in Gulmarg - Paper Trees
To see all the photos from day 6 of skiing in Gulmarg, go here: http://www.bernardsphotos.com/skiing/2012/gulmarg/feb3
(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:
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:
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!
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