With numerous slopes surrounded by mystic mountains, a few shops and fewer hotels Gulmarg is a haven for someone running away from the deafening madness one would associate with a City.
Gulmarg is where I discovered a newfangled affinity for something known as “The SKI”. And seriously; I believe a climber is more complete if he can dabble with the Ski as well. After all; it is this sport which showed me that gravity can be graceful. A skier negotiating a slope at 50 – 100 kmph is a sight to behold.
Nevertheless, my buddies and I can never forget that fateful day on 08 Feb. We had just completed the langlauf, and were warming up for other competitions like the Slalom and Gate Attack when Capt Mahajan, the acting Vice Principal at JIM & WS asked us if we would volunteer for some sort of a rescue thing. We had no idea what we were getting into. We skied for about an hour before reaching the Army unit that houses the High Altitude Warfare School and nothing could prepare us for what we were about to witness. Dogs sniffing around, people poking around with avalanche rods, Bodies being towed around. There had been an avalanche at the HAWS. The Afarwat which is a small mountain range in the backdrop of Gulmarg had given way after 4 days of non stop snowfall. The result; a terrible avalanche, which consumed 18 lives and left massive destruction in its wake. All we could do is just dig hoping to find someone alive. After 4 hours, when we got back all we could remember is those moans we heard from those who were rescued and the chaos. But we thanked God for those who made it.
Well the trip was not all a Sob Story. We skied and did that to our hearts content, hiked a lot and managed loads of panoramic shots. We also managed to get vital tips from the Army Skiing Team and also managed to share space with them on the Slopes and in some snaps as well.
Gulmarg was beautiful. I thank God for letting me be there. The incident at HAWS was unfortunate; but otherwise the trip was smashing. Definitely going back for more.