Skiing in India
Skiing is an adventure sport which has lots of adrenaline rush. Well I was first inspired by this sport when I saw kids in Lucerne, Switzerland skiing down the slopes of Schilthorn. 4-5 years old kids just going down the hill which had some sharp turns.
I saw people skiing before but then such small wonders just enjoying the sport on a giant mountain is indeed a great sight. Instantly I decided to ski down that slope one day. I did some research there regarding hiring and classes for skiing which came around 100 Euros per hour. The Indian in me: “Any discounts?? No way too expensive”. My hunt for learning the sport started from then onwards.
One day during a discussion one of my cousin pointed me to an institute in India which offered courses in Skiing. IISM – Indian institute of skiing and mountaineering headed by Ex-Colonel. I inquired at their website regarding various courses and booked a slot immediately.
This post is mainly for those who want to try this sport but just not crossing the line because of lack of information.
Course details: here
Cost: Rs. 5,000/- < 25 years and Rs. 10,000 >= 25 years (includes accommodation, ski instruments and food. Cheap isn’t it, its subsidized by government)
Duration: 14 days
Best time to ski: Jan mid-Feb (good snow conditions), by the end of March the snow becomes hard, but at the Gondola its crazy.
I have done 3 courses (Basic, Intermediate and Advanced) in completely different time frame. I did my basic course in Jan-Feb (2012), intermediate course in Feb-March (2013) and advanced course in March (2013). I enjoyed every course because the snow conditions were different each time, it was a challenge.
If you have a big group and don’t have a leave for 14 days, you can talk to the Principal for a personal instructor. The prices are more for obvious reasons. They also have snow boarding lessons which works on the similar lines. Email/call them and find out various options.
PS: Book the slots by Sept/Oct, the first 4 course get filled pretty quickly.
- Awesome accommodation, centralized heating, bathrooms in each room.
- Instructors are friendly and keep note of the mistakes.
- Cultural activities/lectures everyday at 7-8pm.
- Can’t go out of the institute after 7pm. I know they have a reason, it gets really cold and one can get easily lost.
- Less training hours 4 and 1/2 hrs.
- No online payment. Still relying on DD’s.
- Ski lifts are far from the institute. (In a way morning warm up)
One trip: 300 Rs, Day pass: 450 Rs (10 am – 4pm).
There is a free trip sponsored by the institute for all the intermediate and advanced students. If you are a basic student and want to come down the slope always hire an instructor after the course. Find out details about hiring the skies and instructor it usually comes around Rs 1500 per day. I took a day pass and skied down the slope 12 times in half a day. It’s just crazy experience. After the intermediate course one can handle the slope from 1st level to the bottom. My aim would be coming down the Affarwat some day (level 2), I am sure it needs lots of practice and courage.
Travel Tips (save some money):
- There are buses every hour from Airport to Tourist Reception Center in Srinagar and vise-versa. It’s just Rs 50 otherwise a prepaid cab costs Rs 500.
- Dec-March is off-season in Srinagar, so you would get cheap houseboats and guest houses. It depends on your bargaining skills. It can be as low as Rs 500.
- Food is expensive, spend the saved about on food. For meat lovers don’t miss Wazwan. Try at Mughal Dharbar and Ahdoos. I tried at lots of places during my visits and I rate these two high.
- If you are traveling in group then take a taxi from the taxi stand to Gulmarg it would charge you around Rs 1700-2000 to Gulmarg. Rs 1200 to Tangmarg and Rs 60-80 per person to Gulmarg. If you are traveling in small groups take a shared taxi from Batmaloo Rs 60 per person to Tangmarg and then Rs 80 to Gulmarg. The Institute is around 3km from the taxi stand so ask for a bargained rate to drop you at the Institute.
- For freelancers or working from home guys, the dongle net speed is low and only postpaid connections work at J&K.
- Institute to Airport is Rs 2000 and to the city is Rs 1700. Again bargaining skills will come into play otherwise they can charge you as high as Rs 2500.
- Going back by flight, go to the airport early. The luggage is checked 3 times. Take a printout.
7 day course (Rs 4200 – Indians, Rs 16800 – Foreigners)
14 day course (Rs 8400 – Indians, Rs 33600 – Foreigners)
ABVIMAS is an adventure school which organizers various courses ranging from mountaineering, skiing, paragliding, kayaking etc. The pros and cons are not from my experience, they have been listed based on reviews from friends who came to IISM.
- The instructors are tougher. It’s like a military school. It might be a pro for some and con for some.
- The movement outside the institute isn’t restricted.
- More hours of training. (6hrs)
- Ski lifts are near the institute.
- Ski lifts are in bad condition.
- Accommodation is not up to the mark. No central heating system, just a bukhari in a room. Common bathrooms for all.
- Don’t have a slope like Gondola.
- No online payment. Still relying on DD’s.
There are lots of adventure groups which arrange skiing in Auli, Solang and Gulmarg. If you don’t want to be part of a school (or) don’t have 14 days then you can always take a personal instructor and learn in few days. But I would recommend to do a course with either IISM or ABVIMAS because 14 days of rigorous training will definitely imbibe some good skills in you.
Important Points to note:
- It is one of the less risky adventure sports. But nevertheless injuries are inevitable if one isn’t careful.
- Learning skiing at younger age will definitely improve your muscle memory. I have seen small kids skiing like professionals.
- I have seen 7 year’s to 60 year’s old in the same school. Age is no bar but the older ones are bit prone to injuries. Maintain good level of fitness and I am sure everyone will do great.
- Take the fear out of you. It gets tougher when the slopes become steeper.
I hope the above information is useful and hope to see more enthusiastic people.