To ski Gulmarg’s vast backcountry without a competent and experienced guide can turn into a challenging experience and end in a fiasco, especially if visitors have only a few days to explore the area and no or little know-how on avalanche danger assessment and safe route finding in complex alpine ski terrain.
There are several reasons why we recommend to ski in Gulmarg only with an experienced guide. First, the geographic location of the ski area close the line of control, the border between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir and the related limitations to unrestricted terrain access.
The second reason for skiing with a guide in Gulmarg are considerable risks of avalanches. Mountain guides and avalanche specialists define the ski terrain on Mt. Apharwat, 4’200m (13’000 feet) as complex which means exposure to multiple overlapping avalanche paths and a large expanse of steep (+30°) and open terrain with numerous avalanches starting zones and terrain traps below, and minimal options to reduce exposure. For more go to the Gulmarg Avalanche Terrain Map
And finally there is no established rescue operation in Gulmarg which can be called upon when accidents happen, or evacuation is needed. Furthermore, the means of communication are limited, and guests fully depend on their first aid capabilities to deal with accidents.
FSH has been running powder ski programs in Gulmarg since the winter 2005/2006 and employs today 6 experienced and trained local ski guides.
Due to their terrain knowledge, our guides play a significant role in making backcountry skiing in this Himalaya ski resort a safe experience for all our guests. All our guides speak reasonable English and are capable of leading groups of all skiing and snowboarding proficiency levels.
Our guides have been recruited from the small pool of 18 officially registered snow guides in Gulmarg. Their basic training was completed by a specially designed "powder guide training" based on the specifications for the freeriding guide training by Swiss Snow Sports. Furthermore, all our guides have completed or are in the process of completing the courses required to be accredited as qualified guide by the Gulmarg Avalanche Center. Gulmarg Avalanche Center
The FSH guiding team in Gulmarg is managed by Chris Werren from Switzerland who has started FSH’s activities in the Himalaya and who is also working as our lead guide on the mountain. Chris has worked as guide and ski instructor for several years in different parts of the world, and he has also completed the training for avalanche specialists at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos,
Skiers need to be aware that when they ski on Mt. Apharwat outside the controlled area without a registered guide they are fully on their own and have no immediate access to the few limited rescue services. In addition they will face serious financial and legal consequences, including imprisonment, for any troubles or damages caused in the Kashmiri Mountains while skiing without a registered guide.
For extensive information on ski guiding in Gulmarg read our blog Skiing in Gulmarg with a Guide