Amid the jostle at the SXR baggage claim appear the O-Zed’s and we tell tales of our last 24 hours in Delhi. Assisting each other out of the snatch-and-grab, we potter off to the obligatory form-filling of tourist registration, exit the terminal, load a jeep, bypass Srinagar, and make direct for Gulmarg.

The road passes for the greater part through a broad valley floor before rising gradually to Tangmarg. Lined with half-built ruins and basic shops, it is everywhere traversed by streams of pedestrians. The way is easy but the skies are overcast and so the vistas are obscured. Instead it is the foreground that I can see through the windscreen, and it is full of floody fields and ribby cows.

At Tangmarg the terrain rises more steeply to Gulmarg so the road zigs and zags across the pitches through forests of pine. A fresh storm has dropped several feet of snow around so all the gear is transferred from our jeep to a Sumo rigged with chains for the ascent over the remaining miles.

A market town, Tangmarg is small and foreign skiers are not missed as they gather at a central junction seeking rides back to Gulmarg. While swapping vehicles we meet Dave Watson (a Vermont telemark-skier and guide), with Steve Fisher and Chad Otterstrom, professional snowboarders from Breckinridge, Colorado. They are in Gulmarg filming These Days, a Transworld SNOWboarding production scheduled to release in September 2008. Read My Trip to India and this other blog for Steve's own accounts of his journey to Kashmir.

In the remaining daylight we learn it is the first clear day after the storm; there is plenty of snow on the hill since the gondola remained shut down. It might open the next day. The storm that had us sitting it out in DEL had people doing the same at Gulmarg over several days, and we had missed very little.

We truck it up the hill chattering excitedly as we pass under a large, steep, road-gap jump built by the pro riders, catching our first good looks at Gulmarg. Everyone is talking about tomorrow.
Photo credit: MHIP
Photo credit: MHIP
Photo credit: John Carolin