Ski was used as a mode of transportation some 1,000 years ago in India. Since then ski technology has really evolved from two planks of wood with leather laces to the skis we know today, but skiing is still an unfamiliar sport to most Indians.
Remote regions of northern states like Uttarakhand, J&K, Himachal, Sikkim, and Arunachal receives exceptionally heavy snowfall every year. The highest ever snowfall was recorded in the year 1967, where the snowdrift was recorded as high as 8.4 meters to 12 meters.
The freshly powdered snow during the month of Dec-Jan-Feb attracts lots of foreign skiers every year to explore the Himalayas with their skis and snowboard. If you are lucky enough you can even witness the 3-day snow festival which is held in Gulmarg, Kashmir every year in the month of Jan. Also, one can celebrate Lohri in the northern states which happens in the month of January.
As said, “A pair of skis are the ultimate transportation to freedom”- Warren Miller
Unfortunately, we cannot board the whole year so far, the best period to come for winter sport in India will be from December to March. This is a large season but even within these 4 months, the snow is different. The coldest part of the season is between December end and February when the snow is really fresh, and you really have the feeling of shredding on fresh snow. November and March are two months when you don’t have any certainty of fresh snow. Without snowfall, the snow becomes wet and hard leading to a not so pleasant POWWING experience. The only advantage is that at that time of the season, mostly everything is cheaper.
In Auli, the season from January to March is the best while in Gulmarg, it is best to visit during mid-December to March. In Gulmarg and Solang, skiing season lasts until 15 Mar on the lower slopes and 15 Apr on the upper slopes
All the ski spots in India lie in the mighty Himalayas. They cover the extreme North West till the Extreme North East. In the peaks there is snow usually all year long. In winter however, you get fresh snow at all the accessible places for Skiing and Snowboarding
Top destinations for skiing in India are:
Aru located near Pahalgam is an upcoming skiing spot in Kashmir. Located at 2,400m (7700 feet) no doubt this place becomes a royal blanket covering the mountains. First-timers and powder snow enthusiasts should surely visit this place.
Gulmarg comes as one of the best destinations for skiing in all of Asia. Gulmarg has slopes for all kinds of skiers. There are two major Gondolas to reach Kongdori 8700ft and Apparwat 12500 ft and a ropeway for Merry shoulder. Kongdori is for those who have just started to learn skiing- Amateurs. The slope from this point is 450m steep. The second point Apparwat has a descent of 800m recommended for expert skiers only.
Gulmarg has five Poma ski-lifts on the lower slopes and one of the highest cable cars in the world, the Gulmarg Gondola, which travels a distance of 2.7km, with a vertical rise of 1,280m, and takes skiers to a point at 3,980m, almost to the top of Mt Apharwat. The ‘powder’ is also comparable to the finest in the world—soft and fluffy snow (as opposed to wet snow, which restricts motion, or icy snow, which is dangerous to ski on and not fun at all).
Safety standards are also the best in Gulmarg. There is a Gulmarg ski patrol, managed by Brian Newman, an avalanche specialist and consisting of 14 highly trained Kashmiri snow scientists and rescue specialists, trained for all contingencies.
If you are visiting Shimla, this place is a must to visit. The slope here is gentle which pushes beginners to keep skiing and increase their level of skiing. An annual winter sports meeting happens during the winter season. A lot of tourists visit Kufri during this sports meeting to participate in various winter sports events.
Manali is a high-altitude Himalayan town in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state. Manali is a gateway for skiing in the Solang valley and trekking in Parvati valley. The Solang valley is 12 km away from Manali.
Skiing in Auli is a must when you are visiting Uttarakhand. Auli is recommended for skiing in Uttarakhand. The slope here ranges from 2000m to 3000m. There is also a 500m long ski-lift and 800m long chair-lift for the skiers to get the most of the mountains.
Narkanda is the second most popular place for skiing in Himachal Pradesh. This place is situated 65km away from Shimla. In season you will spot all kinds of skiers at this place.
Enthusiasts exploring northeast India should try out skiing in Sikkim. The beautiful mountain range in Sikkim attracts a lot of ski enthusiasts during the winters. There are a lot of different kinds of slopes which enthusiasts can explore.
People who want to enjoy the beauty of snow-clad mountains solely can try out skiing in this unpopular valley. Yumthang valley is situated, at a distance of 25 km from Lachung. As this place is unpopular so enthusiasts can enjoy skiing without any noise or interruptions.
Alpine Ski is the most known way of skiing in India. It is really popular for people looking for extreme sports. It is the combination between high-speed downhills and sliding in the fresh powdery snow. Himalayan ranges provide lots of downhill, apt for beginners as well as experienced skiers.
Nordic Ski is lesser known by the general public in India, it was invented in the northern European Countries which has a lot of snowy plains. Historically, it was invented as a mean of transport but it became a leisure activity. Even if there are no snowfalls on Indian’s plains, Gulmarg and Auli have high mountains plateau where you can practice Nordic Ski. It is a different effort compared to Alpine Ski, the effort needed to practice Nordic Ski is more comparable to a running effort.
Ski Competition happens every year in Manali, Auli & Gulmarg bringing together more than 200 competitors coming from all India. It is organized by the Winter Games Federation of India under the International Ski Federation (FIS). Men and women competitors are coming increasingly every year as the infrastructure is improving and enthusiasm is growing.
Skiing and snowboarding?
Let’s talk about the material:
A clear advantage for the Snowboard, you just need to carry one plank and contrary to the skiers you don’t walk like a robot to reach the lift. Skiers need also to carry two heavy skis such as two ski-sticks!!
When you start talking with a snowboarder, he will tell you instantly that the infrastructure is not designed for Snowboarder. When you take the lift or the T-bar you always have to remove your back-foot fixation which makes it harder to get out from the lift.
It is recommended to first learn skiing before snowboarding. Skiing is more instinctive and natural because feet are in the same way as our walking movement such as when you ride Snowboard you have to understand asymmetric movements which are even more difficult for children.
Even if Snowboarding is harder to learn at first, then it is easier to perfect it, such as for skiing the perfection takes more time.
When it comes to off-tracks riding, Snowboard becomes the King!! Riding Snowboard has softer, slower & more fluent movement, which will give you the feeling of surfing waves!!
You have always tried to race with your brother or your friend when it comes to speed feelings ski will always be faster than riding Snowboard and it has been proved scientifically!!!
So if you like speed, then skiing is definitely made for you!!
Finally which one will you choose?
Everything depends on what you are looking for, Snowboard has been designed for off tracks riding such as ski is more versatile. If you are more attracted by the speed, let’s chose the skis such as if you prefer freestyle snowboard is more adapted.
Skiing safe means respecting rules
Ski & Snowboarding are extreme sports which are performed in a public place. So, if everyone wants to enjoy as much as they want, we need to be aware of security rules.
So here are the basic rules to respect when you are skiing (International ski federation rules):
A skier or snowboarder must move in control. He must adapt his speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow, and weather as well as to the density of traffic.
A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way that he does not endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.
A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.
A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without endangering himself or others.
Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move clear of the piste as soon as possible.
A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the piste.
A skier or snowboarder must respect all signs and markings.
At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist.
Skiing is also an extreme sport, so you will need some safety equipment such as a helmet and a ski mask. But why those equipment are so important? Head is really exposed in the practice of Ski and Snowboard, especially for children. In order to avoid traumatism, wear a helmet!
Ski mask or sunglasses are also important due to the sun which is strong, up in the mountains and is protecting your eyes from the ultraviolet.