Already home to the world’s highest gondola (3,979m) India’s most adventurous ski destination has just got a whole lot bigger with the launch of Gulmarg Heli Ski in Kashmir this season.
If you’re looking for endless dry powder and intrepid adventures then you can’t beat the Pir Panjal Mountain Range of India. Gulmarg Heli Ski is the only heli ski company to be given exclusive access to the Pir Panjal wilderness reserve featuring twenty two peaks over four thousand metres and sixty six over three thousand metres. Vertical descents here can run as long as two thousand metres. That’s a whole lot of thigh burning champagne powder.
The AS350 Squirrel B3 helicopter seats five, which means groups have a guide ratio of one to four clients ensuring a personalised heli ski experience every time. No more than twenty heli clients fly each day with Gulmarg Heli Ski’s Swiss pilot and five qualified heli ski and mountain guides who ensure client safety. New Zealand heli ski operator, Tim O’Leary of Alpine Heli Ski in Queenstown, will be running the heli ski operation at Gulmarg.
Guests of Gulmarg Heli Ski stay in the ski village of Gulmarg (2,700m) in quality accommodation and with all meals included. The Pir Panjal Powder Week Heli Ski package runs weekly from January 10 to February 20 and includes seven nights and six days of guided heli skiing up to thirty five thousand vertical metres, K2 Pontoon powder skis, and airport transfers. All this from €6350 per person.
Those just seeking a heli taster, or a lift up the hill, can choose the Powder Shot one lift experience. A guide and four clients are delivered by helicopter to the remote Sunrise or Sunset area of Gulmarg above four thousand metres. From here it’s a guided ski down wide open Himalayan slopes and then through forest trees to the villages of Drang Valley or Tangmarg Village. After refreshments it’s a 13km taxi ride back to Gulmarg all from €275 per person.
New Zealand ski industry businessman, Martin Jones, has been skiing at Gulmarg for five years and set up the New Zealand Ski Club of Kashmir in 2006. Since then, together with local ski guide, Billa Majeed Bakshi, he has founded Gulmarg Powder Guides and the Himalaya Sports Ski School. “I was blown away when I first skied Himalayan powder. With its high altitude and low latitude Gulmarg and the Pir Panjal regularly receive some of the heaviest snowfalls in the Himalaya. Then the fine days and cold nights frost dry the snow so we have the lightest, driest champagne powder around” says Martin Jones. “Combine this with breath taking Himalayan terrain on the roof of the world and a helicopter for transport and you have the ultimate ride.”