Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Adventures & Destinations
When was K-Line’s first season?
The idea behind K-Line began in 2008 and our first operational season was in 2010, when we welcomed 100 guests. Our team has been guiding in the region since 1999 and is part of the first and original team of ski guides in the region.
Where do we operate?
K-Line operates in the vast Indian Himalayas, with bases in Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam. Our locations provide numerous locations for adventure sports enthusiasts to enjoy backcountry skiing, trekking, fly fishing, mountain biking and yoga deep in the Himalayas with difficulties catering to all experience levels. Our highest rideable peak tops out at 4,250m. and our highest pass during expeditions reaches 3,860m.
Climate, Environment & Terrain
What is the average temperature?
For all our adventures, we spend most of our time at 2,600m. Summer temperatures range from 15°C to 22°C and is ideal for our trekking and fly fishing, with fresh mornings and warm days. In the winter, temperatures go below zero, with the coldest being -7°C to -10°C.
What are the best months to go skiing, trekking or fly fishing in Kashmir?
This all depends on your personal schedule. Most of our boarding/skiing guests visit in February and March. Most trekking and fly fishing guests visit from June to October.
What elevation are we commonly at during skiing, fly fishing and trekking?
Elevation varies from 2,200m to 4,250m.
What is the longest run we access for skiing and boarding?
2,100 vertical metres from the Drung bowls down to the local villages.
What is the average daily vertical each day for skiing and boarding?
4,000 vertical metres is common.
Packages & Itineraries
What does pricing include?
Our adventures are all-inclusive of certified professional guiding (either boarding/skiing, fly fishing or mountain biking), all passes/permits, accommodation, transfers, breakfast and dinner.
Why don’t we include lift passes?
Because the Gulmarg gondola charges on a per run basis, so we would have to allow for a maximum number of runs. Also, we cannot predict when the gondola shuts down during snowstorms, so we would need to charge for daily lift passes. By purchasing lift passes yourself, you can decide how much you want to ski and save money on days the gondola is shut.
Why don’t we include jeep transport for tree skiing?
For the same reason we don’t include lift passes – it’s impossible to predict when conditions will allow for tree skiing, so we would have to charge you for a maximum number of days. We would also have to budget for a maximum number of runs, so by excluding this you can control how much you’d like to ski and probably save money doing so.
What other activities are available?
Our mountain biking and boarding/skiing adventures are based at the Khyber Himalayan resort in Gulmarg, where you can enjoy the L’Occitane spa, heated pool, sauna, steam room and gym, as well as the snooker room and cigar lounge. In the winter, there is also snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and sledge rides. Summer is perfect for exploring the local villages, surrounding orchards and fisheries. The Himalayan environment is also ideal for yoga, meditation, trail running, hiking and photography.
Is there Internet or phone service?
There are no public phones at our locations. We have intermittent cell phone and Internet coverage at out locations this is also dependant on the weather. Please respect the vacation environment by turning your ringers off and using laptops sparingly. If you need to use a phone please ask your trip leader.
Where do we stay?
Our mountain biking and skiing adventures are based at the 5* Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa in Gulmarg. Some guests choose to stay at our 3* offering at the Alpine Ridge.
What are hotel standards like in Kashmir?
The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa offers all the amenities and services of an international 5* hotel. The local Alpine Ridge hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay, with heating and hot water running in the mornings and evenings. Alpine Ridge is also home to the most popular après ski bar in Gulmarg, so you’ll be right amongst the action.
Are the hotels well situated?
As we have been around for a while, we also only consider hotels within close walking/riding distance in summer, or ski-in ski-out in winter. Many hotels (such as Vintage, Nedous and Yemberzal) are located near the Gulmarg marketplace and around 20-30 minutes walk from the gondola.
What kind of cuisine is available?
Our biking and skiing adventures are based at the Khyber, where you’ll enjoy international buffet breakfasts and dinners. At local hotels, cuisine is mostly Indian and Kashmiri. Lunch is at the local restaurant on the mountain, although many guests choose to take protein bars, nuts etc. to save time.
Trekking & Fly Fishing Accommodation
Where do we stay?
All our fly fishing and trekking adventures include camping with the use of high quality camping equipment (tents, mattress pads, sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners) from international brands such as Black Diamond, Mountain Hardware, Cascade Designs and MSR.
What kind of cuisine is available during camping?
For our trekking and fly fishing adventures, our chef cooks simple but hearty international cuisine. We try to use only organic, local ingredients such Himalayan pink salt and walnuts.
What are the houseboats like?
You will spend one night in a houseboat at the end of your trip. Houseboats are intricately carved from wood and date back to the colonial days. You’ll enjoy a home-cooked gourmet Kashmiri meal or Wazwan – a Kashmiri wedding banquet. You will also take a picturesque shikara ride (traditional Kashmiri boat) around the lake.
Gulmarg Ski Resort Information
How high does the Gulmarg Gondola travel?
The Gulmarg Gondola is currently the highest skiable Gondola in the world. Phase 1 is at 2650m, with trails of 3.2km leading down to the bottom. Phase 2 is at 3950m, just below the summit of Mt. Apharwat, which sits at 4250m.
What terrain do we access?
Our terrain is extremely varied and caters to everyone from strong beginners to expert riders. Many guests come to us to learn the art of powder riding in a safe and controlled environment. The Gulmarg Gondola provides full access to Mt. Apharwat. We call it “heli-skiing by gondola”, as a little bit of traversing leads to endless acres of slackcountry and backcountry. Hiking is not necessary, although guests can request it. The new Chair Lift offers intermediate riders a great introduction to off-piste terrain.
What happens if the Gondola is not operational?
If the Gondola is closed due to stormy weather, you will never have an off-day unless you choose to. There are endless options for tree-skiing, with our truck taking you to access mind-blowing steep tree runs. “Truck-skiing” is an experience not to be missed – you can have lunch in the local villages and even visit the homes of our guides.
Is avalanche control work conducted in Gulmarg?
Yes – after storms, the avalanche patrol team conducts control work by blasting strategic locations within the ski area boundaries. Control is initiated the day the storm finishes or the following day, and can last up to a few days depending on safety conditions.
Do I need to bring my own equipment?
You can rent everything from us, although we recommend bringing your own clothing and ski boots, as these are personal items. A helmet is advisable, as is appropriate riding hardware and accessories. Most guests choose to rent our pro-grade powder skis and Black Diamond avalanche packs for convenience.
Is safety equipment required? Will training be provided?
It is mandatory for all our backcountry riders to carry a transceiver, shovel, probe and appropriate backpack. We recommend Black Diamond Avalung or ABS. We will provide a safety briefing and train you in the use of this equipment.
Guiding in Gulmarg & Kashmir
Why do I need a guide?
A guide is essential for many reasons – for skiing and mountain biking, your guide will enable you to avoid dangerous situations and take you to suitable terrain based on your skill level. You will ride the longest fall lines available, avoiding countless flat spots that can take hours to escape. More importantly, their rescue skills and knowledge of safe travel techniques in avalanche terrain will ensure an enjoyable and safe experience.
For fly fishing, a guide will lead you to the best fishing spots, and advise you on technique and the behavior of our local species. For trekking, a guide is essential in leading you through safe routes and showing you the most scenic areas of Kashmir.
Are all guides created equal?
No – The quality of guides varies widely and can have a significant effect on your riding and overall experience. There are only 12 active registered ski guides and of these, only 6 hold American Avalanche Association (AAA) Level 2 qualifications – 3 of these work with K-Line. In 2011, our senior ski guides were the first to successfully complete the first-ever AAA exams in Gulmarg.
Can I manage without a guide?
You would be a fool to try. It takes years of experience to understand the complexities of the Himalayan climate and terrain. Travelling without an experienced guide can be detrimental. As history tells us there have been incidents when people have simply gone missing.
Are there unqualified guides in Gulmarg?
Yes. At best, riding or travelling with them means spending hours getting out of flat spots and at worse, you may face life-threatening situations where they lack the skill to execute a rescue.
Aren’t international guides better than local guides?
Not necessarily. International guides may be polished, fluent in English and hold international qualifications, but locals have an intimate lifelong knowledge of their mountains. International guides are often accompanied by a local guide who has a detailed understanding of the local terrain. No matter who you ride with, they must have extensive knowledge of the terrain, avalanche safety and backcountry skiing technique.
Who regulates our group size and group composition?
K-Line determines all group sizes and composition. For safety reasons, we may pair guests with our other guided groups.
For skiing/boarding, all guided backcountry groups must be no larger than 6 and ideally no smaller than 3 (including your guide). On-piste groups can be more varied in size.
Our fly fishing groups are extremely private and run on a giuest to guide ratio of 1:6. This allows us to.
Unlike most operators who take groups of XXX, our trekking groups are no larger than XXX. Not only does this make the experience more private, it also limits our impact on the environment.
Safety & Evacuation
What is K-Rescue? K-Rescue is a first for the free-riding community of Gulmarg. It is a professional Search & Rescue service that locates and stabilizes incapacitated guests, then transports them to safety.
Can’t the Gulmarg Ski Patrol rescue me?
The Gulmarg Ski Patrol has a wide range of responsibilities. They perform rescues where possible, but they are NOT contractually obligated to do so beyond the ski area boundaries. They also may not reach you in time, unlike your guide who is with you at all times.
What is the role of the Gulmarg Ski Patrol?
K-Line has a special relationship with the team and will contact them in the event of any emergency. They usually arrive at the scene later and will certainly get involved with ER-grade emergencies.
What does K-Rescue cover?
K-Rescue covers any situation when you’re unable to walk/ski/ride on your own.
What is the cost?
K-Rescue is free of charge with all our packages.
What is not covered?
Our team is trained in first aid and will stabilize any injuries or illnesses. However, we are not medical professionals, nor do we have full medical facilities at our disposal in the wilderness.
Who will accompany me to the various hospitals once the Rescue is complete?
You will be first taken to the Gulmarg hospital – this is included free of charge with K-Rescue. An additional fee is applicable if you need to travel to Srinagar for further treatment and require a team member to accompany you.
Who is your Rescue team?
Our Rescue team is comprised of certified ski guides and internationally qualified ski patrollers.
Do guests have to participate in the rescue?
Yes – each member of the group will be asked to adhere to a specific task or role.
What training and experience does your team have?
Our K-Line rescue team has passed their Level 2 AAA qualifications and undergone training from internationally qualified first aid experts. They can assess and stabilize you, or involve the Ski Patrol if necessary to deal with ER-grade medical emergencies.
What kind of equipment is used?
We use professional grade communications technology and specialized rescue equipment – a first in Gulmarg.
What are the operational hours?
Do insurance companies provide cover for Search & Rescue?
No – No insurance company in the world offers Search & Rescue coverage – Some, however, will offer off-piste skiing insurance and/or medical helicopter evacuation – Please be sure to consult your travel insurance provider before purchasing any insurance policy to ensure it is suitable.
What are the chances that I will require Rescue?
None of our guests have ever experienced ER-grade emergencies, just standard injuries. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Why can’t I rely on other riders around me to conduct a Rescue?
None of our guests have ever experienced ER-grade emergencies, just standard injuries. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry while participating in activity based wilderness adventures.
My travel insurance covers medical helicopter evacuation, why not Search & Rescue?
Many travel insurance providers do not include Search & Rescue because helicopter flight time is so expensive and it’s impossible to predict how long a rescue will take. Travel insurance only covers helicopter evacuation for direct pickup from a confirmed location in-bounds, accessible by heli. Search & Rescue includes locating the injured person in an unknown location, then delivering them to safety. Most heli companies will charge US$5000 per hour for Search & Rescue, with standard operations taking 3-4 hours.
I am not a K-Line client – can I use K-Rescue if I pay for it?
No – K-Rescue is about safety. We rely on close contact within the K-Line team using our professional-grade communications technology. If you aren’t a K-Line client, your group will not have the technology to communicate, nor the necessary rescue equipment. We cannot guarantee that we will be alerted in time and be able to execute the rescue to the best of our ability.
What kind of health preparations should I take?
In general, the dry, cold climate and high altitude do not facilitate infectious diseases. However, as Kashmir is a state of India, check with a local doctor for a list of recommended injections.
Do I have to be extremely fit?
No – you just need to be mobile and reasonably proficient at your chosen sport, although obviously the fitter you are the better. We tailor all trips according to client ability. None of our guests have ever experienced significant problems at high altitudes, although you may get out of breath more quickly e.g. walking may feel like jogging. This is part of acclimatizing and you should feel fine in a couple of days.
Photography & Videography
Does K-Line have a photography program?
Yes, a photographer will join your group in the snowcat. At 5:30 each night a slideshow will showcase your powder day. Interested guests can select photos for purchase or buy an entire CD filled with shots of their trip.
How do I get to Kashmir?
Take an international flight to Delhi (DEL) followed by a domestic flight to Srinagar (SXR).
How do I get to your adventures destinations in Kashmir?
Our transfer will meet you at Srinagar Airport and transport you to our adventure destination. Look for our K-Line sign with your name on it. You will either travel 60km by road to Gulmarg for our boarding/skiing and mountain biking adventures, or 100km by road to Sonamarg, where our fly fishing and trekking expeditions begin.
What time should I arrive at Srinagar International Airport?
Between 7am and 7pm. Flights to and from Srinagar only operate during the daylight hours between sunrise and sunset.
Do I need a visa to visit Kashmir?
You will need an Indian tourist visa. Depending on your nationality, you may be eligible for a visa on arrival. Refer to the Indian Government tourist visa website for details => https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
What about Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is essential for any trip. Choose a policy that covers helicopter evacuation, off-piste snow sports and travel to remote areas. Travel Guard (www.travelguard.com) and ihi Bupa (www.ihi.com) are two such insurers.
Bookings, Payments & Cancellations
Do I have to pay for the whole trip upon booking?
A 50% deposit is required to confirm your reservation and the balance is due by October 31st. Trips booked after October 31st must be paid in full. We accept all credits cards via PayPal or bank transfers.
Are there refunds for cancellations?
No refunds are offered for cancellations less than 90 days prior to your trip. We recommend travel insurance to cover any trip delays or cancellations. Please review our fine print policies prior to booking.
Is it customary to leave tips for the K-Line guides and staff?
Tipping is customary in this industry and greatly appreciated by our staff. K-Line distributes all tips equally among staff unless specified by the guest. To prevent unwanted attention, feel free to consult our management team regarding appropriate amounts.