I wrote this peice for The Ski Journal. It looks at the long history of skiing in Gulmarg dating back to the 1920's. It was great to dig deep and speak with charasmatic legends like Sylvain Saudan, while integrating my own contemporary experiences with characters like Billa Bakshi.
Last winter I was chilling on the beach in Mexico when Mike Douglas asked if I wanted to go back to Kashmir to heliski with Billa Bakshi, one of the vibrant characters from AZADI. 10 days later I was lifting off in a helicopter with Chris Rubens, Tristian Knoetzer and photographer Blake Jorgenson. What we got was deep powder and some of the best tree skiing any of us had ever seen. Now the episode is live so sit back and enjoy the show. Then get your backside over to Kashmir for some good times of your own.
If you are Swedish or read Swedish, check out the latest copy on the shelves of Aka Skidor, the Swedish ski magazine. The article is based on the Salomon Freeski TV. I was fortunate enough to do with photographer Blake Jorgenson, Chris Rubens and Tristan Knoertzer. We had an awesome trip exploring the new heli ski terrain with Gulmarg Heliski.
I also called in to the Salomon studio last week and got a sneak peak of the Freeski TV episode we filmed. I think you will all be stoked so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out the trailer here.
Kashmir continues to intrigue me. After traveling there this past February, the region, the people, the history, politics and religion have proved to be a complex entity difficult to understand. Speaking to individuals one can fathom each side's cause, emotions and reasons for actions in the past but the difficulty comes in understanding what a solution looks like. I found a well balanced documentary, "Crossing the Lines- The Battle for Kashmir's Freedom" by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, an eminent Pakistani Nuclear Physicist and a graduate from MIT. The final part best explains the loggerheads that Kashmir, India and Pakistan are at. In many ways the Kashmir issue seems to be a single piece of rope tied in so many knots that it may prove impossible to untie. The excerpt below articulates what the solutions proposed in the past would mean for the people of Kashmir—Muslims, Hindus, Sihks, buddhists—as well as the implicated power politics for India and Pakistan.
If you are interested to watch the whole film, I have included it inside.
I have a wee dilemma on my hands here. There is this incredible place to ski that I discovered with friends and normally I would never make its whereabouts public on the World Wide Web. But, you see, this particular place is rather removed and the local people are crying out for visitors to kick start tourism again in this black listed part of the world. If you hadn’t guessed, it is Kashmir. But inside I’ll give you the finer details.
While in Kashmir, a friend took us to meet his tailor in Srinagar. Gulzar (pictured center) is a very proper remnant of the British colonial era, swearing occassionally when called for, and making suits for all matter of diplomats, foreign aid workers and travellers. Like most encounters with local people, the sales pitch came out immediately, and I was determined not to be sold to. But then Gulzar dropped this bomb...
"God made you a man, let a tailor make you a gentleman"
I was sold.
This was our last day skiing at Gulmarg this year. The conditions weren't especially inspiring, but the need to get out and get some blood pumping proved enough to get us onto the gondola. Hiking and traversing to this zone inspired even less inspiration than that which could be seen from the hotel. But, sure enough, our bet bet on decent snow came through and we enjoyed soft snow, and as this video more than conveys, a long, long fall line that is so representative of Gulmarg. There is always incredible vert no matter the snow.
VIO POV camera courtesy of Helmet Camera Central
Disclaimer- Everything quoted might be true or was said, but the context is completely fundled, I mean muddled.
Read it and enjoy it because the writer's intentions are well meaning, but it makes me cringe at myself.
Read the Rising Kashmir Article
A quick update on the last week. Lots of thoughts, photos, etc to come, but here is a POV vid from our trip.
Gulmarg has reveled itself to me far beyond my expectations. The last week has been blue skies and with the Avalanche Advisory at Low, we ventured a little further and were rewarded with 3 incredible descents, not to mention the epic descent the sun made, casting some of the most incredible light over the mountains and ourselves as it set.
After playing the waiting game, a few false starts and the stars aligning, we were granted access to the upper gondola in Gulmarg for an uber bluebird day and copious amounts of creamy powder.
Check out the video inside.