Skinning home after an epic day riding the Karma forests in Kashmir.
This is some of the deepest freshest snow I’ve ever had the pleasure of skinning through. Here we are following the local prayer track that links Gulmarg to the temple in the village of Bareshi.
There’s bit of a story behind this photo as we had ordered a taxi to take us back up to Gulmarg but on the ride down the snow was so deep that one of the guys got stuck in it on a flat ‘don’t fall here, or you’re in for a swim’ section. As we were just above the prayer track, I sent the rest of the team on down to go tell the driver we were coming.
About ten minutes later after our fallen hero had done a big swim through waist deep powder we were on our way and shortly arrived at the village of Bareshi to find the rest of the group but no taxi?
“so where’s the taxi?” I asked. “oh, it was here, but then it left” came the reply. “so why didn’t you stop it leaving?” I asked. ‘Hmmm, well we were taking photos of each other next to it and it just drove off, we thought there would be another!”
So now we’re in Bareshi in one of the biggest heaviest snowstorms I’ve seen, miles from anywhere with no taxi and as you can imagine, it’s not exactly a through road for flowing traffic and taxi’s, especially as the road is a foot deep in snow already.
After waiting to see if there would be another taxi for about half an hour we decided that it was time to start heading for home before darkness set in.
It’s about an hours skin up the prayer track in normal conditions but with the deep snow, the wide split skis that didn’t fit in the track, the altitude and the dumping snow, it was immediately apparent that it was going to be hard work and take us a little longer.
Anyway, we all had good Gore-tex, good physical condition and a good track to follow so off we went.
About half an hour in to the journey, as we struggled through the thigh deep snow a couple of local guys caught us up and waded past us at twice our speed wearing normal everyday leather shoes, cotton shirts, no jackets, black cotton trousers and carrying a plastic bag full of apples. They stopped for a quick chat, offered us some apples and headed off on their way. It was funny to see them just walking along in socks and shoes, totally unsuitable clothing, heading up to work in Gulmarg after heading down for prayer and just chatting away as they waded through it.
There we were fully decked out in all our kit, struggling along and these guys just raced past in shoes and shirts.
A little while later we caught up with them as they had stopped for a smoke (and an apple) under a tree. Ten minutes later they raced past us again and disappeared up the knee deep track chatting away to each other as if totally oblivious to the snow and weather conditions.
It took us another hour, from where they passed us, and we finally arrived back in Gulmarg tired and hungry after a 2 hour hike.
Without snow boots, jackets, snow pants, gloves or any winter kit of any kind, these local guys had walked up in half the time it took us and probably would do it a couple of times each day in order to pray at the temple.
The next day, with a taxi privately booked for the day we rode 5 laps of the Karma forest and it was definitely the best tree riding I’ve ever done.
Soon after, the weather cleared and we could finally head up high once again to score the steep long powder runs that Gulmarg is famous for.
An epic trip…
check out the video on the BC Voyager Kashmir page!