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VIDEO UPDATE – Kashmir Recon Mission – Part 2 – The Storm

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After almost six weeks with a pathetic amount of snowfall, the Kashmiri snow gods finally had a can of whoop-ass in store for us. With 1.5 meters in the forecast, some skiers fled the resort knowing it was their last chance to catch a flight for days to come, while other’s bunkered down to see what the storm would yield.

The clouds closed in, and over 2-3 days Gulmarg Ski Resort got hammered with over 2 meters of warm and heavy snow. Anybody who knew what was good for them just stayed in and drank tea all day, but we were rolling with the B4apres posse on a mission to get all the skiing we could – rain, sleet, snow or shine.

 

Knowing the upper Gondola (Phase 2) wouldn’t open until well after the storm, we milked every lower mountain forested area we could find, from short touring laps on Monkey Hill to equally short tree lines to Barbareshi town and shrine.

Only in India does your backcountry ski line end up in an almost abandoned town centered around a holy shrine and mosque. Empty in the winter, Barbareshi comes to life every April when thousands of people flock to the holy place for prayer.

Struggling for places to ski, the storm wasn’t the only thing limiting our terrain – avalanche conditions were pretty much off the charts – in a bad way. Doing our due diligence and digging a pit before skiing the safest terrain we could find, one light finger tap saw the entire snowpack fail, right down to the facets at ground level. Is there even a rating for a result that bad?! While we chose the safest, most boring, survival skiing route back to town, we were unaware that 17 Indian Army troops had just been killed in a slide that hit their High Altitude Warfare School up in the alpine and 2 ridges over. Dozens more were rescued, and 100’s more were evacuated from the camp. Sad news indeed, and an unpleasant burden on the ski patrol staff who already have enough on their hands in this crazy place.

Like any other day skiing in Kashmir, the skiing itself has rarely if ever been the stand out story or memory from the day. Oh ya, we skied pow every day of the week, but nothing stood out quite as boldly as the ridiculousness of simply being in Kashmir. Weaving through military gridlock traffic back to town, getting side-swiped by a military truck and watching the locals-vs-army shouting and pushing match ensue, or finishing your ski lap in the town of Tangmarg only to be consumed by garbage eating monkeys, shouting taxi drivers, and lethal traffic.

All in a day of skiing at Kashmir.

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