The storm rolled in and last exactly as expected. Was was not expected is the freezing level to drop down and the amount of snow coming with it!
So we had to relay on Mary's Shoulder again to get some turns in. The storm has been on for now 4 days and breaking the trail was quite a work out. The snow had a fair amount of water in it and wasn't super light.
As we got to the top of the run, we realized all the northern aspect (the run we intended to ski) has already avalanched. Our only option was now the south face. The south face of Mary's Shoulder is a bit less steep than the north face. There was about 40cm of snow up there and the turns we carved were really deep.
The face we were skiing wasn't steep enough to get enough speed to get the skiing we liked. So after only one lap, we went down the Gondola Phase 1 and head straight down to the hotel for some cleaning to get ready for the next part of my trip!
As a daily routine next morning, I went out before breakfast to check out how much snow has fallen overnight. To my great surprise, the snow was really light and nice! Every 45cm of it was just what we hopped for!
So we hit Monkey Hill again! We had swore not to ski it again since it is a bit short and boring….. but still what we figured what was our best option. Not being able to ski some good terrain during a massive storm is certainly something annoying about Gulmarg. It is even worst since you cannot get some good snow this season all the way down to Tangmarg which is usually the backup option.
Blue sky, no wind and an early start from the gondola lined up everything we could hope for our last day of skiing. After a little chat over breakfast with the patrollers, they were certainly quite optimistic about being able to open up the mountain.
We had a lazy morning since neither Babareshi, nor Monkey Hill, nor Mary's Shoulder were appealing to us.
We wanted to ski Phase 2!!!
We waited while soaking in a warm midday sun to the sounds of avalanche control nice bombing sounds.
Once you get your tickets, you rush back up the hill to get back to your skis that are in line. Then, at the confluence of the waiting lines, the staircase that you have to climb when coming back from buying the tickets and the tiny little opening to get in the gondola is where the most aggressive pushing, yelling and insult festival I have seen in a ski line up is taking place.
People are trying to sneak in, local Kashmiri guides are trying to get inside from another door to get their foreigner clients inside and fellow skiers who have been waiting in lines for hours who are getting quite pissed by what is happening all at the same spot.
Apparently it is getting better nowadays. Just 2 peoples that day have been involved in a fist fight…
Anyway, since we were in the front, we managed to get on gondola #4 (after a Kashmiri guide and is clients…..)
We rushed down fast to get as many run as possible.
Like in Japan, it was frustrating to have to leave in what was some of the best conditions of the season. I have really liked the experience of skiing in Kashmir. It is an ski trip that goes way beyond the deep turns in fluffy powder we are all looking for.
The taxi driver who came to picked us up to go to the airport hasn't been able to make it to our hotel since his tires were too shitty…. So we had to walk about 400m with our gear in the snow to get to his car. Fortunately for us, the military forced him to put chains to go down the slopes.
The security check in Srinagar are the thighest I have experienced. We had our luggage scan at three different places. It is thigh, but everything went pretty fast. I think it is a good idea to get to the airport at least 3 hours in advance.
When we got to Delhi, the airport pick-up we were supposed to have wasn't there. So we walked to the prepaid taxi stand and realize the hotel where we were staying were charging us 3 times what the regular fare is….
It is really simple to get a taxi from the prepaid stand and I would highly recommend to anyone going to India to just get their taxi straight from there.
Our first plans about hitting Slovakia and Poland will certainly change since it has been a quite bad year for snow in this part of the world. The fact that a storm is rolling it the southern Alps of Italy may totally wreck what we first thought about doing. Whatever happen, I'm quite sure it will feature a quite epic ski/travel/smelly experience in that RV we are about to get!!!