Skiing in Gulmarg
Glissading down a mountain through the snow while the sun glistens on the surrounding snow-covered peaks topped with a clear blue sky is undoubtedly one of the most incredible feelings. Strapping boards to your feet and sliding down a slope of a mountain might not sound like something worth forking out but, once you familiarize yourself with the techniques and basics then you will realize that it’s a great sport, irrespective of what standard you are. This thrilling recreation that we are talking about is Skiing.
Skiing is an adventurous confidence sport that demands your time to learn by not rushing straight to the top of the mountain. If you have decided to replace your trekking boots with some skis then you have landed at the right place.
Skiing, unlike trekking, is a whole different ball game that requires a distinct mindset, approach to the game, techniques and knowledge. The only way to acquire these traits is by joining a ski course. The numerous levels of ski courses – Basic, Intermediate and Advance will cater to your needs of approaching ski as a technical sport as well as the grasp the fun associated with it.
But, why enroll in a skiing course?
It’s understandable that one may ask this since there are many claiming to be instructors who can show some flashy moves and make you slide down a slope or two. But this doesn’t justify the true glory of skiing as a sport. The courses run by our professionals are certified skiers and possess the qualification and expertise in teaching the skills required for a beginner in skiing.
From equipment management and assemble, proper and correct stances, movement techniques, basics such as pushing off, confidence building, turning, speed techniques, adjustments to exploring un-groomed powdered slopes, the courses take you through a steep but rewarding experience of learning a wide range of skills and techniques involved in skiing.
Now that you are prepared to partake in skiing, it’s time to choose the right location for exploring some of the finest ski slopes in this world. It is what we all know as the paradise on earth and even more so in winters – the dreamscape that we call Gulmarg, right here in our country.
The ideal months for skiing are mid-January to mid-March when there is an ample amount of fresh snowfall and the temperature is low enough to prevent the snow from melting. While there is Auli, an excellent location in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand that has a 500m long ski lift to a maximum height of 3000m for downhill skiers and Manali in Himachal Pradesh is another alternative to skiers, nothing can match the exquisite beauty and awesomeness of Kashmir’s Gulmarg which has stood the test of time to remain the pinnacle of skiing in India if not the world.
Gulmarg boasts one of the world’s highest gondola and chair lift system taking you to its 2-staged ski slopes sitting at an impressive height of 4200m with phenomenal views of Gulmarg and the entire Kashmir valley that is even more sublime covered in the winter snow.
To help you move ahead with Skiing and its courses, here are a few tips and techniques involved in Skiing.
1. Know your Skis
The first step is to familiarize and be comfortable with the equipment used in skiing. The structure of the ski and its components - the tip, tail, base, boot binding, deck, shovel, sidecut, chamber and contact point all play a crucial role in grip on hard snow or powdered snow, sliding, stability, brake, traverse, etc. The knowledge of what to use when and how is important for a good experience.
The comfort and fit of gear play a major role in skiing. Ski boots are the single most important equipment that will either make or break your experience. Make sure the boots are relatively comfortable and snug. You must be able to move your toes and also make sure that your heel does not come up in the boots once they are done up. Your foot must not slip from side to side in the boot. Have them as tight as comfortable around your calf muscles but not too tight around the top of your feet so that it does not restrict the flow of blood to your toes and in return get cold feet. Do not tuck your trousers into your boots.
Wear layers of clothes to keep yourself warm. Layer up instead of wearing one heavy jacket so that it doesn’t restrict your movements. Avoid wearing cotton under layer or you will get cold, thus it is recommended to wear a thermal inner layer so to stay warm as the temperature can plummet down to as low as -15 deg. Celsius. Make sure your outer layer especially your bottom layer is waterproof. Wear goggles to protect your eyes from the snow and the sun’s glare.
3. The Basics
The basic skills required to start off your skiing experience includes the following:
- Learning to stand up and turn where you want to move and stop are needed to enjoy yourself on the slopes.
- Moving your skis clamped to your boots will dictate which direction you move. It is simple, turn your foot to the right to turn your ski to the right and the same goes to move your ski to the left if you turn your foot to the left. Do it one at a time to get familiar with the feeling and which muscles to use. Thus, you point your skis where you want to go basically by turning your feet.
- Stance – Stance is very important as it decides your slide. Keep your feet and shoulder width apart with your toes pointing inwards and heels apart to ensure a better base and stability as opposed to when they are next to each other. This position is known as snow plough which gives you a solid base as you move along with bending your knees and waist slightly as you keep your arms wide opening to feel your weight evenly on your feet.
- Speed control and stop – The snow plough position is perfect for both controlling speed and stopping on slopes to ensure that you have full control and not hurt yourself by falling over. To slow down to a complete stop simply make the snow plough wider by turning your toes towards each other slightly more and push your heels further apart.
- Turning – On steeper slopes this technique will only slow you down but won’t bring you to a complete stop. The only way to stop in this instance is to turn your skis to not face down the hill but across it thus defying gravity. Keep your skis in a snow plough V-shape and gently turn your feet to point your skis across the hill and come to a stop.
Skiing with your skis parallel will make you go a little fast but this must be done only after you have mastered the snow plough to be a little smaller at the back. It can feel quite unstable initially but there are ways to bring your skis parallel together without losing control. The single most important aspect of finishing a turn is to make sure that you have your body weight at the right place to stay balanced. Since skiing is a fluid motion you must always be moving gently up and down using your ankles, knees and waist.
5. Planting Poles
Planting your poles on snow while skiing will help you develop and maintain a rhythm to your skiing and brings your weight in the right place. Extend your legs at the start of your turn and transfer the weight to reach downhill and touch the poles on the snow in front of you.
To carve a nice turn one has to incline their body to keep their skis on edge as early as possible. Once balanced on the outside ski extend your legs from under the body and incline downhill but your body must be straight from above the waist. Your shoulders must be pointed in the same direction as your knees while carving a turn.
7. Powder Skiing
Skiing on powder snow is meant only for experts who know their way through the slopes and are well versed with the art of skiing. Deeper the powder snow, harder it is to turn your skis. It will strain your muscles if you don’t maneuver the slopes properly with technique. It will also slow down your speed on the slopes which means you will have a greater chance to maintain control and easily finish your turns. Since there is more resistance in powder, your weight has to be kept central and evenly distributed on both skis so as to steer the skis right through the powder.
8. Slope Colors
Ski slope colors refer to the difficulty level and the steepness of the gradient. Every skier new to skiing must understand these colors before venturing ahead. The color codes are as follows:
Green: Easy and shallow slope for beginners with a gradient of less than 25%. These slopes are meant for beginners to learn the ropes. These slopes have a large area with flat to shallow gradients thus suitable for a novice to learn.
Blue: Blue slopes have a gradient of 25% - 40% and are suitable for intermediate skiers who know how to turn on steeper and faster gradients. Slopes here can be twisted or narrow as opposed to meandering with some bumpy sections.
Red/Black: Red and Black slopes are for confident and professional skiers who are experts in navigating steep and uneven gradients. These slopes have gradients more than 40% and are thus suited for those who like a challenge. It is the highest difficulty of skiing with runs that are extremely steep and are designed for experienced skiers only.
This will only give you a brief idea about the ways of Skiing. However, if you partake in the ski courses – Basic, Intermediate and Advance offered by us in the dreamy slopes of Gulmarg then you will know in-depth about the aforementioned techniques in the adventurous sport of skiing and become a pro dominating the surreal ski slopes.