Family adventure: Ski packages & Ski gear for Gulmarg, Kashmir

Thinking of family adventure holiday this winter?

How about skiing in Gulmarg, Kashmir?

The icy slopes of Gulmarg in Kashmir are great for both beginners and pros.

There is a good beginners slope in Gulmarg with proper ski lifts. Then, there is Slope 85 at the base of Hotel Highland Park – an intermediate level slope. For people who already know skiing, Gulmarg offers the Gondola, the one of its kind in India – it transfers tourists and skiers to Kongdoori at about 3000 m (9000 ft), what is popularly known as the First Stage.

Ski packages Ski gear Gulmarg
View from the Second Stage, at about 12500 ft. (Photo courtesy: Doorva Bahuguna)

For the real pros, there is the option of going to the Second Stage – at a height of 3950 m (about 12,500 ft) on the Apharwat Peak. This is a perfect skiers’ mountain, although a small central section of it is avalanche-controlled and patrolled. The rest of the mountain is off-piste. But for expert skiers, the lure of the fresh powder and stunning views is too good to ignore.

Do read – Weekend getaways from Delhi: Escape to the hills

Ski packages with Mercury Himalayan Explorations

It is important to choose the right outfit for learning skiing. Friends who have been to Gulmarg earlier to learn skiing raved about the beauty of the place and the hopelessness of the ski instructors there, in the same breath.

Mercury Himalayan Explorations (MHE) is one of the best in the business. Their CEO Akshay Kumar is an expert skier himself and leads small groups of adults and kids. He is supported by local ski-teachers in Gulmarg.

Check their video!

MHE organizes 6-day trips from January-end to mid-March, where the first day involves flying into Srinagar and taking a road trip to Gulmarg (about 2 hours), the next 4 days are spent learning how to ski, and the last day going back to Srinagar and taking the flight home.

Get more details on skiing trips in Feb / March this year.

Do read – Luxury resorts near Bangalore: perfect for a weekend getaway

My first experience of skiing

My trip in March last year was my first time that I tried this sport in Gulmarg. 2 days practicing at the beginners’ slope, the third day practicing on the intermediate slope and the last day skiing down from the Kongdori mountain, The First Stage.

Road trip to Gulmarg

From Srinagar airport, jeeps are organized by MHE to move the individuals/families to Gulmarg. A hearty meal is to had en route, mostly in Tanmarg. The road journey goes through some scenic areas. The beauty of the fir and pine trees all around, the icicles hanging from some of their roots is astounding.

Ski packages Ski gear Gulmarg
From our hotel: Beauty all around.

Once everyone settled in the hotel, we went to a local rental shop to try on ski boots, jackets, pants, and helmets.

Do look at my detailed tips on Ski Gear List below.

Practicing skiing on beginners’ / intermediate slopes for the next 3 days

Wake up at 7 am. Breakfast at 8 am. Walk to the jeep at 9 am. Reach the slopes before 10 am. This is the schedule for the next 3 to 4 days.

Day 2 and 3 are spent on beginners’ slopes and the 4th day on the intermediate slope.

If this is the first time skiing for you, let me tell you it is not going to be easy. The loss of control I experienced when I tried to move off a gentle slope with my skis on for the very first time unnerved me.

Lunches should be light so that you don’t feel completely lethargic on the slopes for the afternoon session. There is enough time to unwind and for kids to make snowmen and play in the evenings after the skiing lessons.

On Day 3, we cheated a bit on the skiing lessons and took the gondola car to go up the mountain to the First Stage (about 9000 ft) and further to the Second Stage (about 12500 ft).

Skiing down The First Stage

Ski packages Ski gear Gulmarg
I couldn’t wait to try skiing down The First Stage!

On the last day of skiing, some of us were comfortable enough to try skiing down from the First Stage. It turned out to be an exhilarating experience!

My 5-year-old daughter was still practicing on the beginners’ slope and that’s fine – each one gets to learn at his or her own pace.

Flight back home

The last day was spent packing, getting back to Srinagar, stopping en route to buy kahwa leaves and spices, and killing time at Srinagar airport.

Also, read – Family Holidays: Activities & Ideas to engage kids during travel

Ski Gear Tips & Packing List

It is important to remember that layering is key when skiing. The weather can change very quickly in the mountains.

There are several options in ski wear at Decathlon shops in India or you can order online from Amazon.

Thermal inner wear / Base Layers

Buy good-quality breathable base layers to ensure maximum comfort. You will need 2 sets of these.

Always ensure your inner layers are made from a moisture-wicking fabric that takes away the humidity from your skin so it can evaporate easily. You do not want to end up getting wet from the inside; as you work up a sweat on the slopes.

Some options at Decathlon –

Base Layer for kids

Top Base Layer for kids, Another option for Base Layer for kids

Bottom Base Layer for kids

Base Layer for adults

Top Base Layer for men / unisex,  Another option for Base Layer for adults

Bottom Base Layer for men

Top Base Layer for women, Another option for Base Layer for women

Bottom Base Layer for women

Mid-layer

This is the layer between your thermals and your ski jacket. It can be anything: a fleece, a wool sweater or a technical t-shirt. On a sunny day, you might be happy shedding your mid-layer and skiing just in your ski jacket, or vice-versa. Again, you will need at least 2 of these.

Choose a snug fit when it comes to the mid-layer, you want it to fit comfortably under your ski jacket, but still, have room to wear a base layer without it feeling too tight. Avoid cotton at all costs.

Some options at Decathlon –

Mid Layer for men

Mid Layer for women

Ski Jacket and Ski Pants

Some of the factors to consider are the type of insulation a jacket offers (down or synthetic), how breathable the jacket is, its waterproof rating and how warm it is. For ski pants, the same principles of insulation, breathability, waterproof rating and warmth apply.

Ski packages Ski gear Gulmarg
My friend’s ski jacket/pants were rented from the local shop, while I borrowed the outer gear from a friend.

You can easily rent the outer jacket and pants at Gulmarg.

Here are some of the options at Decathlon shops in case you want to buy –

Ski jacket for men, Ski pants for men

Ski jacket for women

Socks for skiing

When skiing, your hands and feet get cold the fastest, so invest in decent socks and gloves.

A lot of ski socks are made from a combination of materials ensuring that you are provided with the best characteristics of each material. A bit of lycra will ensure that your socks fit well; polyester provides excellent wicking properties, and wool is always good for extra warmth.

Some options at Decathlon –

Socks for kids

Socks for men / unisex

Gloves for skiing

You do not want to have your ski day ruined by freezing hands and numb fingers so,  choose your gloves carefully. Always make sure your gloves are waterproof and well-insulated.

Also, don’t forget to dry your gloves after you’ve been out all day in mixed weather conditions; make sure you dry them overnight near a radiator (but never on the radiator).

Some options at Decathlon –

Gloves for kids

Unisex gloves for adults

Another option for gloves for adults

Snow boots

Some options at Decathlon –

Snow boots for kids

Snow boots for men

Snow boots for women

Fleece or wool cap

I am confirmable skiing on a sunny day just wearing the ski helmet. And yet, this is an essential item to be packed and used post-skiing or when you step out in the evening for a snow fight. This is essential for kids though.

Some options at Decathlon –

Cap for kids

Cap for men

Cap for women

Sun cream and lip balm

The air in the mountains can be very dry so make sure you always keep a lip balm in your pocket. Your lip balm should have an SPF of at least 15 to protect you adequately.

Ski packages Ski gear Gulmarg
The combination of high altitude and UV rays reflected off the snow put you at extra risk of sun damage.

Always make sure you use sun cream to protect your face. Always use a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or above. Apply liberally and top up regularly.

Warm clothes for post-skiing

Once you are back at the hotel, you will need –

  • track pants or comfortable lowers
  • thermals and T-shirt
  • sweater/fleece jacket
  • warm cotton socks and floaters.

Also, read – Jaisalmer: The charming desert citadel in Rajasthan

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Ski Packages Ski Gear Gulmarg Kashmir


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Author: Shweta Singhal

Hi! I am Shweta, the zest behind this blog . I play several roles – parent to a 6-year old, adventure enthusiast, travel blogger, generally open to trying out new things in life. Besides travel, I love books and theatre and art. I would love to hear from you; do drop a comment. Join me on Instagram / Twitter @zestinatote.

22 thoughts

  1. Gulmar looks very nice! How are the roads to reach Gulmar from the airport? I have skied before but that was so many moons ago that I guess I will have the same feelings you describe on the post. For sure, a hearty breakfast like the one you got every morning will help

    1. The roads from Srinagar to Gulmarg are fine. It takes about 2 hours and some of the views are quite scenic. If your jeep gets stuck for some reason, other drivers get out and help.

  2. It’s great that a variety of skiing option are available from beginners to more advanced. Love the gradual approach the school takes as your skills improve. Your clothing list especially the socks are great. The worst part about skiing is having cold fingers and toes.

  3. I always forget the sunscreen and really pay for it later. What a beautiful place to learn how to ski! I can think of worse places to fall down. The snow looks so amazing and fresh! What views!

  4. I’m going to admit my ignorance here and say that I didn’t even know there were ski lodges in India. It looks beautiful though and the beginner course of skiing sounds good with slowly working your way up to more difficult slopes. I’m impressed that your 5 year old daughter tried out skiing as well.

    1. Isn’t that a good age to start learning? Though I must admit she got tired in the first couple of hours. I am hoping both and I improve our skills next month.

  5. It looks beautiful and I have not heard of this pace to ski before. Your tips about good quality socks is vital as you need a good pair of long thick socks as the ski boots are not the most comfortable footwear. This brings back good and bad memories, I used to ski before I had a bad skiing accident, so be careful!

    1. Thanks, Lucy. I will be careful on the slopes. Sorry to hear about your skiing accident. It is an exhilarating sport though. But one needs to be extra careful for sure.

  6. I love that Gulmarg is great for beginners as well as pros – I’ve been looking for a place suitable to learn – my new years resolution for 2018! Appreciate the tip on Mercury Himalayan Explorations – because I think to learn to ski I need the best! It sounds like you learnt pretty fast!

    Appreciate the gear recommendations too – will have to start fitting out a winter / snow wardrobe 🙂

    1. Meg, I have forgotten everything I learned. I am going back again next month. I will need to start with bunny slopes again, but hoping to come down from Phase I by myself on the 3rd day. Fingers crossed! Skiing is not big in India but it’s taking off slowly.

  7. I’d never heard of Gulmarg before and we don’t ski as my husband had a bad skiing accident a few years ago. But I do agree with all your trips on what to wear, especially the mid layer: it’s the most important one!

  8. I have never thought of India for a ski holiday. And I realize that is a dumb thought seeing how India has huge mountains. I guess you just don’t think of skiing, when typically people go to see tigers or the Taj. Are there also things to do at the ski resorts for the non-skier? My husband skis, but I’m just terrible at it and prefer other winter sports while he’s on the slopes.

    1. Jennifer, Gulmarg is a lovely winter destination. And the bulk of the tourists who come in winter are non-skiers. Skiing is not that big in India as yet. There is snowboarding to be done as well. The views from the Phase II are stunning, you can take a Gondola ride to go to the top. We also enjoyed riding a jet-ski on the snow. It is available at the Base I. And my kid loved sliding down the beginners’ slope in a banana shaped boat!

  9. Wow, I haven’t touched or seen snow in almost a decade, this makes me really wanna go to Kashmir for skiing! Also, I haven’t been skiing for more than 20 years, haha. I might start again at point zero. Good to know that the slopes are good for beginners, too, Thanks for sharing!

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