Some of you may recall reading a story last season about an epic trip that we took to Kashmir. Around the town of Gulmarg, we found a land of awesome powder and incredible curries populated by more than a few men with AK47s – a bit different from your standard trip to the French Alps then! We also found an antiquated lift system which, despite boasting the highest cable car in the world, seemed to spend more time stopped than it did working. But the terrain was incredible and the potential was obvious.
Well thankfully a bright spark named Tim O’Leary has come up with a simple way of unlocking this potential and enjoying the nearly untouched powder without having to use unreliable lifts – take a heli! Having run a heli-skiing business out of Queenstown, New Zealand for several years, Mr O’Leary has teamed up with business partners Martin Jones and Billa Bakshi to start up Gulmarg Heliski.
The business claims that the use of the Heli will allow visitors to access an incredible array of Himalayan peaks, including 66 over 3,000 metres and 22 over 4,000 metres above sea level. The descents down some of these peaks promise to be epic. Martin Jones said: “The first time I came here and skied with Billa as my guide, I just couldn’t believe it. I could only manage six to eight powder runs each day, averaging 1,000 to 2,000 vertical metres per decent. That’s up to 16,000 vertical meters per day and as much as 112,000 metres per week.”
While the slightly sketchy surroundings of Gulmarg provide the adventure, there is nothing sketchy about this operation. It employs mountain guides trained to European standards and uses an up to date AS350 Squirrel B3 helicopter piloted by captains with extensive Himalayan mountain flying experience.
The company is currently taking bookings for their first season, so for those who fancy a trip beyond the ordinary horizons of snowboarding, check out www.gulmargheliski.com