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The 2016 Aussie ski season is off to a great start: or is it?

About this time every year, people start getting really excited about amount of snow on the ground.  Automatically, excitement turns to speculation about what the season might do, where it might end, and how it compares to previous seasons – especially the ones that really delivered i.e. 1992 (316 cm); 1968 (307 cm); 1964 (355 cm) and most famously of all 1981 (361 cm).

With 71.5 cm on the ground at Spencer’s Creek (at the time of writing, though likely going up as we speak), 2016 is off to a pretty good start. But how good is it, and how does it compare? Continue reading The 2016 Aussie ski season is off to a great start: or is it?

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Gulmarg – a powder paradise in the most unlikely of places

The resort

Gulmarg resort is situated in the far northern reaches of India, immediately east of the Pakistani border. Interestingly, it lies in the disputed territory of Kashmir, an area over which India and Pakistan have fought three wars, the latest in 1999. However, with the skirmishes now over (for now), Kashmir is once again quiet….

Gulmarg literally means “Meadow of Flowers”, named for the lush greenery, flowers, fruit and nut orchards that are scattered throughout the highlands during the warmer months. During the snowy season, those visiting Gulmarg for the first time will be immediately struck by its size. You’ll also be struck by its altitude. Maxing out at close to 4,000m (the highest lifted point), the resort opens up to stupefying amounts of vertical; some of the bowls off the summit, for example, have a straight 1,200 metres of thigh-destroying vertical descent (refer to Powderhounds website)….

According to Powderhounds, ‘the amount of Gulmarg ski terrain is virtually unlimited and includes alpine bowls, chutes, cornices, glade skiing amongst ancient pines, and glacier skiing without the glacier(!). That’s not to mention the epic ski journeys down to some of the local shrines and villages which add a whole new dimension to the terrain”.

The charm of Gulmarg lies in the fact that the riding terrain and the ski resort itself remains relatively undeveloped and is therefore serene, lacking the après ski facilities, bars, shops, restaurants and tourist sites that define many Western resorts. Gulmarg is some of nature’s best work – take a few steps away from the hotel and you will soon be lost in an endless white landscape where it will feel like you are the only person around….lost in an eerie white calm, where the silence is almost certainly deafening.

You’ll need an experienced guide

Gulmarg while beautiful, is not for the faint hearted. The terrain is deceptively difficult, some of the exits are complex and avalanches are common. An experienced guide is highly recommended even for very experienced riders. There are many different guides available in Gulmarg and they include Australians, Americans, British, New Zealanders and local Kashmiris. Most offer a variety of packages which in addition to guiding services tend to include all local transfers, accommodation, and most meals.

K-Line

Australian company, K-Line, is a boutique adventure travel company focusing on ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ type skiing and boarding adventures. K-Line has been running quality specialist tours out of Gulmarg since 2009. K-line is run by a professional and highly trained team and only employ highly experienced guides. They have a safety record that is second-to-none and will take you some of the most mind-blowing secret locations on the mountain.

K-Line is a great choice because they keep tour numbers to a minimum making for an intimate experience, but more importantly, a small guide to skiier ratio – which in turn improves safety. As a testament to its impeccable safety practices, K-Line recently established K-Rescue, Gulmarg’s only comprehensive search & rescue service. K-Line is also working with local authorities to secure a decree which will give the area national Park status, thus securing its ecological values for future generations.

Accommodation

K-Line has been in Kashmir since 2008 and in that time has sampled most of the accommodation in the area. Gulmarg has a range of accommodation options ranging from luxury 5 star hotels to more modestly appointed backpacker style accommodation, with 3 and 4 start options in between. K-Line has done the hard work for you and narrowed the options down to a sub-set consisting of the Khyber (5 star), Heevan (4 star) and Alpine Ridge (3 star) hotels, all of which provide direct ski access to the Gondola from the front door.

For more information on Gulmarg, feel free to contact us at shiello72@gmail.com

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