Just 50km away from Srinagar Airport, sitting at 9000ft, lies one of the highest ski resorts in the world. The Indian skiing experience can be summed up in one word – terrain. The highest gondola in the world takes riders to 12,500ft above sea level and the nearest peak, just minutes away by skinning, rises to a jaw-dropping 14,000ft. From here, endless fresh lines plunging into the surrounding couloirs of Mt. Apharwat. Visible in the distance is Nanga Parbat (Killer Mountain), the ninth highest peak in the world, and Nun Kun, the ninth highest Himalayan peak. When the gondola closes due to heavy snowfall, the most incredible below-tree-line riding in the world opens up, delivering you to the doorstep of century old villages.
Our 15-day ‘Voyager’ Gulmarg backcountry adventure (Khyber) is designed to allow dedicated riders to soak in all the experiences of the Gulmarg resort, from exploring the bowls surrounding Mt. Apharwat to riding the countless tree runs down to the local shrines and villages. You will also get a nice dose of culture, as you’ll be spending the last night in a houseboat on Dal Lake where you’ll enjoy a traditional feast. You will also take a shikara boat ride around Dal Lake, and visit historic landmarks and shop at local markets.This trip is designed for intermediate piste riders and above. Gulmarg’s only 5 -star hotel, the Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, will be your home during your stay.
- Backcountry guiding: 12 days of guided backcountry skiing or snowboarding in Gulmarg, India with K-Line guides
- K-Rescue: Our complimentary 24-hour private Search & Rescue service (read about it here)
- Instruction: Daily guidance and advice on backcountry powder riding
- Safety briefings: Mountain orientation and avalanche safety training
- Hotel: 13 nights of quality accommodation at the Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa
- Food & beverage: 13 breakfasts (buffet) and 13 dinners (buffet) throughout your stay
- Houseboat: 1 night of luxury accommodation on Dal Lake, including 1 breakfast and 1 traditional Kashmiri wazwan banquet
- Culture: A shikara boat excursion of the Dal Lake, and exploration of historic landmarks and local markets in Srinagar
- WIFI: Stay connected to the world at all our hotels
- Transfers: Return airport transfers and hotel transfers between Srinagar and Gulmarg
- 24hr guest care: A K-Line concierge will be available on a 24-hour basis to offer any necessary assistance during your stay
- Ski or snowboard rental: 12 days
- Avalanche safety equipment rental: 12 days (including transceiver, backpack, shovel and probe)
- Lift passes: 12 days of lift passes for the Gulmarg Gondola
- Jeep skiing: Jeep transport for tree-riding as required
Day 1 – Arrive in Srinagar, Kashmir and acclimatise
Welcome to Kashmir! After arriving at Srinagar International Airport (SXR), you will be met by our driver. Our private transfer vehicle will transport you through the Kashmir Valley to the Gulmarg resort. You will meet the K-Line team that evening and we will also brief your group on snow conditions, avalanche safety and the overall resort. We also recommend that you prepare your equipment for the next day. You’ll then fuel up for the next day at the international buffet dinner. This first day will give you a chance to acclimatise, settle in and explore the resort, allowing you to rest to minimise injuries or accidents.
Day 2 to 7 – Time to head into the mountains (6 days)
After breakfast, you’re off to meet your guide and start your daily itinerary. You’ll start by exploring the Himalayan backcountry from the top of the world’s highest gondola at 3950m and 1000m vertical. After a few days of practice, our 2km runs down to the local Drung village will give you the ultimate leg-burn.
Get ready when the gondola is closed from snowstorms, because you’ll get to experience some amazing tree-riding all the way down to local villages, where our jeeps will pick you up. For something different, skinning up Monkey Hill is a good. Finally, a lucky few will get to conquer the world-famous shark’s fin, an epic 50 degree drop from the back of Mt. Apharwat, which requires an hour of hiking to the top of the mountain at 4250m.
As per all of our India backcountry/off-piste riding trips, the daily itinerary is usually determined the night before or on the same morning, based on weather, snow conditions, clients’ abilities and logistics. During riding days, lunch will be determined by your group. Each evening, you’ll enjoy an international buffet at the Khyber.
Day 14 – Soak in the culture!
Check out of the Khyber at your leisure and travel to Srinagar for a day of culture and history. Stay at a luxury colonial houseboat on Dal Lake that night, where you’ll enjoy a traditional Kashmiri wazwan banquet (wedding feast).
Day 15 – Departure
Check out of the houseboat and depart Dal Lake at your leisure in the late morning and travel to Srinagar for your journey home.
Dates & prices
Select a preferred date
- January 6 – January 20, 2018 US $4260^
- January 13 – January 27, 2018 US $4260^
- January 20 – February 3, 2018 US $4260^
- January 27 – February 10, 2018 US $4260^
- February 3 – February 17, 2018 US $4260^
- February 10 – February 24, 2018 US $4260^
- February 17 – March 3, 2018 US $4260^
- February 24 – March 10, 2018 US $4260^
- March 3 – March 17, 2018 US $4260^
Gulmarg at a glance
If you do not hold an Indian passport, you will require an Indian visa to enter India and the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The government has the process increasingly easier, with some nationalities permitted to attain a visa upon arrival. All other visitors must apply for a visa prior to arrival – applications must be made online via indianvisaonline.gov.in.
For more details, contact your local Indian Embassy.
Getting to Gulmarg
Getting to Gulmarg has never been easier. From your departure destination, you need to take an international flight to the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi. You then need to make your way to the required domestic airport terminal (T1C, T1D or T3), which is 20 minutes away from the international terminal via a complimentary shuttle bus service. There are plenty of information desks dotted around the airport, if things are a little blurry on your arrival.
Once you arrive at the domestic terminal, you will board a short 90-minute flight to Srinagar International Airport (SXR). When you arrive, please fill in a visitor information form which will be provided by local airport staff. Our private transfer will meet you with our sign, from there, Gulmarg is just 50km by road.
Before you start your journey, make sure you print all international and domestic flight itineraries or have screen shots ready on your mobile device – you will need to present these details before you can enter any terminal for check-in. For more information, please visit the Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport’s website.
Climate in Kashmir and when to visit
India is located in the northern hemisphere and therefore enjoys a similar climate and season as Europe and America. The Gulmarg snow season begins in December and extends till April. However, the period between January and March will provide the most reliable and consistent snowfall. Below are the conditions you can expect during the season.
Keep in mind that even though we’d like to, we don’t control the weather!
KASHMIR | Gulmarg Temperature & Precipitaiton @ 2,600m
Significant snowfall with fine, light champagne powder. The snowpack is shallow, accompanied by heavy storms and cold, dry conditions. Tree-riding is possible, providing there is sufficient snowfall. You will have the benefit of low crowds during this month.
The heaviest snowfall, which does mean some epic riding all over the mountain, but also a higher chance of snowstorms that will likely close gondola access to the summit. This heavy snowfall opens the door to plenty of unbelievable tree riding, but you may miss your chance to ride the summit. You will also run into bigger crowds in February.
March is the least busy and most underrated month. You will enjoy a deep, well-established snowpack with a few large storm systems producing moderate to significant snowfall. The snow is a little heavier due to spring conditions, but there is still plenty of powder to be found at high altitudes. Some of the below-tree-line snow has already melted by this point so you have limited opportunities for low-altitude tree-riding. However, the increasingly pleasant weather means that you will probably access the summit continually. You are also likely to have the mountain to yourself.
Terrain and riding
Just 50km away from Srinagar Airport, sitting at 2,600m, lies one of the most undiscovered ski regions on the planet. The highest skiable cable car in the world will drop you well above the clouds, just below the summit of Mount Apharwat (Apharwat Peak) at 3,950m. Visible in the distance is Nanga Parbat at 8,126m (AKA Killer Mountain), the 9th highest peak in the world, Nun Kun at 7,135m and Harmukh at 5,142m. These are big mountains by any standard – this is, after all, the Himalayan mountain range.
Mount Apharwat provides an impressive platform from which to explore the surrounding backcountry terrain in Gulmarg. Once you exit the cable car, there are three options – traverse, skin or hike. Mount Apharwat has the perfect setup for backcountry riding, with its shoulders stretching some 6.5km wide and opening up to numerous untracked couloirs that run down the southerly aspect of the mountain. 75% of the terrain can be accessed via a short traverse, taking you to almost anywhere on the mountain within minutes. If skinning or hiking is your game, the summit and other terrain can be accessed via a short 30 minute skin or hike.
We have something for everyone, from strong beginners to expert riders. Depending on your skill level, we will choose from numerous safe riding opportunities each day. The terrain we ride in the alpine region varies considerably in terms of complexity, slope angle and general snow conditions. Your daily itinerary will be determined on the previous day by our team, based on factors such as ability, climate and terrain. For most clients, this is the biggest riding they will ever experience, with descents ranging from 800 to 2000+ vertical metres.
On days when the Gulmarg gondola is not operational due to heavy snowfall or poor visibility, the most incredible below-tree-line riding in the world opens up as you ride all the way down to century-old villages. At the end of each run, you will be picked up by our trusty 4WD vehicles. This is what we call “truck skiing” or “tree skiing” – this is a completely new way of riding for many of our clients, who will generally tell you that this was the highlight of their experience in Gulmarg.
After riding here for 9 years, we know that the terrain rocks. It’s pretty much a given that you will get the opportunity to open the throttle (safely of course) and enjoy some incredible high altitude riding on a daily basis.
Ability and conditioning for Skiing in India
Backcountry snowboarding and skiing in all our locations requires that guests have at least intermediate/advanced-level powder skills. If you are expecting to ski 50-degree shoots and huck 30-foot airs every run you will be disappointed. We only ski this type of terrain when conditions and group abilities allow. We want everyone to have a good time on the mountain where ever we are in the world. To increase your opportunity to ski and ride expert terrain, book an entire guide with like-minded friends and we’ll do our best to take you on our most exciting (but safe) runs.
Please consider the following notes before you book your trip to come backcountry snowboarding and skiing in India with us:
Guests will be skiing about 4,500 metres per day for 6 days straight at a peak altitude of 4,250 metres and need to be in good physical condition. Consider following a conditioning* program to prepare for your trip. If you are unable to keep up with the group you may be asked to sit out and will not be reimbursed for any missed time on the mountain.
Weather and ski conditions are impossible to predict so guests must be prepared to ski or ride anything.
If you have never skied powder or shy away from it at you local resort, our destinations are not the place to learn.
Our terrain varies according to the destination. In the Himalayas we ride 80% of the time above tree line in the alpine zone. In Canada we spend most of our time riding open powder fields and trees – please be prepared to ski and ride the trees!
If you have any questions or concerns about your ability please call us to discuss prior to booking.
We do not groom any of our terrain!
*Conditioning: In order to prepare your body for maximum performance in in the mountains and reduce your chances of fatigue or injury, we recommend you undertake a stretch and strengthening program 4 to 6 weeks prior to your arrival.
Your 5* accommodation at Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa
Your accommodation at the Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa is our pinnacle experience in Kashmir.
The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa opened its doors in 2013 as the first Five-star hotel in Gulmarg. The property works with an independent international hotel management company to guarantees professional service and ensures the consistent delivery of amenities such as 24-hour heating and hot water.
The hotel combines authentic Kashmiri tradition with Arabian influences, which tastefully echo the country’s Silk Road heritage and Ottoman history. Thoughtful touches such as Persian lamps and interiors that are intricately carved in the style of Kashmiri houseboats are a constant reminder of the country’s rich culture.
A casual après-ski café is the perfect place to unwind after a long day on the mountain with a cup of hot Kahwa, or traditional Kashmiri tea. For those who still have extra energy to burn off, the well-equipped hotel gym is the place to do so. Truly discerning customers can enjoy luxurious treatments at the international-quality spa, or simply relax in the world-class cigar lounge.
The diverse menu includes the best of Kashmiri and Indian cuisine, made with the freshest local produce and organic ingredients. The international menu is also exceptional and includes a range of quality options such as Middle Eastern mezze, seafood pasta, Angus rib-eye steak and French onion soup. To round things off, comfort foods such as scones, sandwiches and fish-and-chips are perfect for a quick bite.
Our food is as fresh as the air we breath!
Your stay at Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa is complimented by the best quality and selection of food available in Gulmarg.
Health and safety during skiing in India
Visitors rarely experience serious altitude sickness and none of our clients have ever been affected. However, you may experience a lower fitness level than usual. We suggest that you build up your strength and fitness as much as possible beforehand and avoiding strenuous activity within the first 24 hours at altitude. Further measures include preventing dehydration, and avoiding alcohol and medication. Lastly, although it is not necessary, you can bring altitude sickness pills as a precaution.
Hospitals in smaller towns and cities such as Gulmarg are adequate for basic or minor illnesses. Hospitals in Srinagar are of high international standards and that is where we will take you if any major medical issues arise. Kashmir itself is not particularly conducive to infectious diseases, because of the small population, low temperatures, high altitude and dry climate. Indeed, K-Line clients staying in our selected hotels rarely get ill. However, as Kashmir is technically under Indian rule, the CDC does have a recommended list of vaccines.
Travel insurance for India skiing
When in the outdoors, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and we’re sure you would agree. Get covered before you head out on an adventure with K-Line.
Travel insurance is your responsibility and is mandatory for all K-Line adventures. Please ensure your policy covers you for trip cancellation in the event that you cannot make it on your journey with us. It is also important to ensure that you’re covered for off-piste skiing or snowboarding and visiting remote locations, as Kashmir is one of the more remote states of India.
Throughout our years in the industry, we have researched the best in the game and Global Rescue is exactly that. Get the lowdown on Global Rescue’s Membership here
Foreign travel advisory for India
With the former political conflict just a distant memory, Kashmir has emerged as a remarkably popular tourist destination. Tourism has doubled over the past decade, with Gulmarg alone welcoming close to 2 million tourists in 2012. Located just a stone’s throw away from Delhi, it is the perfect sightseeing destination for Indians who make up the majority of tourists. Countless international tourists visit from Australia and Europe, while the neighbouring Asian countries of Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia are also beginning to discover Kashmir. Despite it’s increasing popularity, Kashmir continues to be a forgotten wilderness sanctuary with easy access and reasonable infrastructure.
Although foreign Governments are increasingly supportive of this unassuming little state of India, FCO advisories can vary on a yearly basis. In general, we have found such Government advisories to be overly conservative, as the situation on the ground in Kashmir has remained continuously safe over the past several years. Indeed, most of our clients are quite surprised at how safe, peaceful and welcoming their stay is, and end up returning to us year after year.
Time zone: UTC +05:30 hrs
Indian Standard Time (IST) is the local time in India. It is offset with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by +05:30 hrs.
The good news is that you can stay connected to your loved ones, your pets or your online aliases anytime these days in Gulmarg – and most of Kashmir for that matter. When you get back at the end of each day you can share your stoke over the web and tell everyone about what it is they are missing out on. So fear not, the internet is alive and well in Kashmir!
Don’t get caught out in India without an adaptor! When you get to the international airport, pick one up in duty free before leaving for your domestic flight, or – for those who are super well prepared – get one before you arrive in India.
There are 2 configurations that can be used in India – Plug types C and D/M as displayed below.
What to pack for Skiing in India
In India, we have a northern hemisphere winter and with the windchill in Gulmarg, temperatures can get down to -20°C. You will need to bring the appropriate technical outerwear and underwear to keep you warm and dry on those blisteringly cold days, and it’s particularly important that your outerwear is windproof and waterproof, with Goretex or similar fabrics to ensure that you are protected from the elements.
Layering your clothing is the best option for keeping you warm and dry on cold days, while offering flexibility to subtract layers as necessary when the heat gets going. We also do recommend bringing a second pair of gloves and goggles, just in case. Most importantly, don’t forget the appropriate powder-specific hardware for riding, including boots, boards, skis, bindings etc. Lastly, in addition to your typical technical wear, you will need clothes and shoes for lounging around in your hotel.