Gulmarg Ski – Out of Bounds – The Back
Gulmarg Ski Resort has been compared with heliskiing many times because of the awesome backcountry access that the Gulmarg Gondola provides.
When exiting the Gondola at 3,980 meters, one of many options on your Ski India powder safari is to walk up and over the main Mt. Apharwat Ridge and ski the back side, walk around the back ridge and ski Shark Fin or keep going further to Great White and the Doggy Chutes.
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 The Back?
To ski the back of Gulmarg and Mt. Apharwat Ridge, you will need to walk up to the summit or almost to the summit of Apharwat. You don't have to go all the way to 4,124 meters; it is possible to start crossing around the summit to the back side from a saddle just before the last push to the top of Mt. Apharwat.
Whatever route you choose, you will have to veer left to the back.
If you are going to Shark Fin or Great White and the Doggy Chutes, it is better to veer at the saddle and walk to the back of the summit. From that saddle, you will see Shark Fin and Great White which are both higher than Apharwat.
To reach the back, plan about 25 minutes of hiking and about 35 to 45 minutes to the top of Shark Fin. Great White is about half a kilometer further. If you're up for a hike, it's definitely worth it, and you'll have plenty of Ski Kashmir stories to tell your ski buddies back home.
There are a variety of options in The Back -- from gentle rollovers to steep 55 plus degree slopes between rocks, chutes, couloirs, and cliffs.
The Back of Mt. Apharwat
Most of the direct back side of Apharwat is a gentle rollover. If you get close to the Shark Fin Shoulder, the terrain gets steep with cliffs.
It is only about 200 meters to the frozen lake at the bottom.
Once you get to the bottom, you can stay as high as you can and just push yourself around to the lower part of the North End of the main Apharwat Ridge and ski the other side to come back to Gulmarg.
Most of Shark Fin is for experts only. The lower shoulder before the main peak is a little less steep with almost no exposure.
The main chute from the summit of Shark Fin is somewhere between 45 and 60 degrees depending on the loading conditions. That's quite steep even by Ski Himalaya standards.
The first few turns are tricky and exposed but once the narrow chute is behind you, it becomes less dangerous.
It is only about a 300 meter vertical drop.
There are some sick lines to ski and ride on the face between rocks and cliffs.
There are also 2 couloirs: Pipeline and Mini Pipeline.
Pipeline is a nice chute with no exposure, but it is somewhat narrow.
Mini Pipeline is pretty steep with some exposure. It is not always skiable. The entrance needs to be loaded with snow and the bottom cliff filled up with snow too.
Great White is the same shape as Shark Fin, but it is whiter as there are less cliffs and rocks. It is about the same vertical drop too.
To get there, you just have to stay on the South side of Shark Fin and walk to the next summit which is to the Southwest.
Once at the bottom, you have to skin back around to get to the frozen lake at the bottom of Shark Fin. Cross the flats and go back to the front side of Mt. Apharwat.
The Doggy Chutes
Just before you pass around the North End of the Shark Fin Ridge on your way back from Great White, it is possible to hike about 100 to 150 meters over the ridge and end up on top of the Doggy Chutes.
Once you are at the top, there are 2 very nice chutes on the East aspect going straight down to the frozen lake. They are not that long but a lot of fun.