Curbed Ski survived shoulder season with these handy tips, but now we're jonesin' for some serious snow. Our solution is to start planning next season's ski trips. Enter Matt Appleford, owner of the Adventure Project. Want to ski untracked powder on an empty mountain at the fraction of the cost of heli-skiing? Head to Gulmarg, home of the world's second highest gondola in the Kashmir region of the Indian Himalayas. Yeah, we know that Kashmir hasn't always been the safest region of the world, but times have changed and Matt Appleford wants to show you all the secrets of this underground powder hotspot.
Situated in one of the six mountain ranges that make up the Himalayas, the ski area of Gulmarg offers over 4,000 vertical feet of skiing and as much as 600 inches of snow each year. It's basically gondola-serviced backcountry for expert powder hounds. But navigating both the ski terrain and the region's tumultuous political realities without a guide is not something we recommend. Luckily, Appleford and company offer reasonably-priced 14 day excursions to Gulmarg and we have to tell you, this looks like some epic skiing. Below, we've mapped out the top reasons why you should book a trip, stat.
1. No crowds: On a busy day at Gulmarg, there are maybe 200 people on the mountain. To put that in perspective, Montana's pricey (and private!) Yellowstone Club sees about 100-150 skiers per day.
2. Great terrain: The gondola tops out at 13,054 feet and allows skiing on over 33 named bowls. That is some big skiing, with the possibility of skiing over 6 miles from the top of the mountain down to the valley floor. There is also tree skiing on the lower mountain whenever big storms make the upper mountain too dangerous.
3. You get to ski, a lot: Your two week itinerary allows for plenty of skiing, as many of 12 days if weather allows. You can always take a day off, but we recommend getting in plenty of ski days before you leave for Gulmarg so that you are in shape to take advantage of all that snow.
4. The culture: Skiing in Gulmarg is like skiing nowhere else. If you want Beaver-Creek level amenities and always travel with your best fur, Gulmarg might not be the spot for you. But if you want to explore a whole new culture, eat delicious curries and be awed by the enormity of Himalayan skiing, add this trip to your bucket list.
5. It's an adventure: Get out of your comfort zone and ski someplace new. It'll change your life.
Trips are scheduled for February 2015 and prices start at $3,365. Head over here for more info.
Bonus reason to go to Gulmarg: there are snow monkeys.