Some say that Gulmarg in Kashmir, India, offers one of the best ski options in South Asia. During the winter months of January to early March, it is popular with skiers from all over the world. This is the world’s second highest ski resort, and the Gulmarg Gondola is the highest and longest cable car system in Asia.
So I decided to try downhill skiing (which is quite different from cross-country skiing) when I was in Kashmir some time ago.
For expert skiers, Gulmarg is paradise because the skiing terrain is unlimited and includes alpine bowls, chutes, cornices, and glade gliding among ancient pines. For those trying downhill skiing for the first time, there's always the beginner’s slope.
We trudged clumsily in the thick carpet of snow to take the ski lift to the beginner’s slope. It was partly like sitting on a metal garden swing and partly like riding in an open-air cable car.
After some basic instructions, we were ready. Plunging our ski poles deep in the snow prevented us from sliding down the slope. When we lifted the poles, we went zooming down the slope. OK, not quite zooming, but more like sliding down at a snail’s pace. So I admit it was not as exciting as what you see in movies like Point Break, but for a first try at downhill skiing, it wasn’t too bad. We came to a gradual stop at the foot of the slope.
After a few more tries, we then decided to be a bit more adventurous and took the ski lift up to the intermediate slope.
The view from the top of the slope was a little daunting, but our guide, who was a good skier, was reassuring.
“Just remember, when you want to slow down or stop, try to slide your skis into a wedge position. This means that the front tips of the skis are closer than the back tips. And bend your knees,” he added.
There wasn’t much time for further instruction before we were on our way, taking on the intermediate slope.
“Bend your knees more and angle your body slightly forward!” I could hear the guide yell from where he was standing.
My arms were bent at the elbows, with the hands in a slightly forward position. I tried to angle my body lower and bend my knees a bit more.
As we neared the bottom of the slope, I tried to angle my ski tips inwards slightly – as in “pigeon-toe”. I gradually slowed down and came to a complete stop at the base without falling over.
In the distance, a few advanced skiers who had started skiing higher up, whizzed right past us. They looked as if they were going to ski all the way down to the resort. They waved and cheered as they passed by.