Gulmarg Ski – Out of Bounds – Monkey Hill
When Gulmarg Gondola is not open due to storm conditions, there is always someplace to ski or ride in the Ski Kashmir region. One of my personal favorite options is to hike up to the top of Monkey Hill.
There are many nice lines going down on a couple of aspects.
As Gulmarg Ski Resort is a off-piste, out of bounds ski resort, the health, rescue and evacuation services are not the same as what we are used to. Skigulmarg.com strongly advise to hire a ski guide.
Where Do I Go To Ski Monkey Hill?
There are 2 places to start hiking when you want to ski or snowboard Monkey Hill.
You can start to the right of the Hill Top Hotel, almost in front of the ice rink. Or, for easier access to the same route, take the little path that leads to the Khyber Mountain Resort & Spa. Both of those routes will lead you to the summit of Monkey Hill in about 20 to 30 minutes via the West ridge.
You can also start hiking just behind the old police station by the Yambazal, Sahara, and Global Hotels. The hike will also take you about 20 to 25 minutes.
This hike will be via the Northeast Ridge of Monkey Hill.
The Best Way To Ski Monkey Hill
To me, the best way to ski Monkey Hill is to have skis with touring bindings and skins, a splitboard or snowshoes.
A couple hours after people have started to hike up Monkey Hill and ski, you will most likely see a boot pack starting from the Hill Top side (West Ridge). So, even if you don't have touring gear, it is possible to reach the top just by walking up. I would not like to be the one who is breaking tracks on a deep powder day.
To me, both tracks leading to the top are good. Sometimes, I like to use the West Ridge track and just hike halfway. The run is very short but once the track is done, it takes no time to loop.
You will have to hike up and ski down to one of the roads that run along the bottom of the Hill. Then, you walk back to your track and hike up… I love Monkey Hill…and I love to Ski Himalaya.
The Hill is between 250 and 350 meters of vertical rise. The forest is the same as Babarishi and Tangmarg -- big mature Pine Trees, and the angle is also about 35 plus degrees.
Monkey Hill is different in 2 ways from Babarishi and Tangmarg:
- You are hiking up so the snow gets drier
- You have to hike or walk - no taxis are involved
There are 2 aspects to be skied on Monkey Hill.
The North aspect is the bigger face with lots of little drainages and small openings in the trees to ski or ride. Just pick a line, and you will end up on the road to Gulmarg Gondola from the village.
If you ski that aspect, you will need to reach the road. Some parts are very flat and hilly with houses, and it can get tricky to get all the way to the road.
At the bottom of Monkey Hill (almost surrounding it), there is an irrigation canal made of concrete. You have to be careful as it becomes flat, and you could get stuck or even buried in it.
The other aspect is the East/Southeast aspect. It is more affected by the sun and can be shallower. There is some drainage running down to the road, and the skier's right side of those creeks is almost facing the North aspect so they can be very deep and lots of fun. Part of your Ski India adventure.