As rare adventure sports heli-skiing lifted spirits of Kashmir tourism this year, attracting hundreds of foreigners and locals, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday chose to be a poster boy of world famous ski resort Gulmarg by tweeting his stunt picture while skiing on the steep slopes.
“Gulmarg is one of the best places to ski,” wrote Abdullah to his more than one lakh followers in an attempt to promote Gulmarg and the adventure sport.
The tweet is attached with an image of Abdullah wearing sports gear and sliding like 'action hero' on the steep slopes of snow-laden Gulmarg, 55 km north of Srinagar.
Abdullah is himself an adventure sports lover and drives his costly dirt bike up on the treacherous slopes of Dachigam National Park, whenever time allows.
The chief minister, who witnessed embarrassment this winter due to havoc by snowfall earlier in January, has a reason to be upbeat about winters now.
"More than 700 adventure sports lovers have booked for Gulmarg this year, highest ever," said tourism department director Farooq Shah.
Two choppers are available at Gulmarg for heli skiing this year. From Rs 60,000 to Rs 4 lakh for air dropping and surface skiing, sports adventurers can have adrenalin rushing at 12,959-feet snow-bound slopes of the hill resort. "The bookings have been made till March 15 this year. We plan to have the facility at other hill resorts in Kashmir," said Shah.
Famous international cricketer of South African team, Jonty Rhodes, known for agility and fielding skills, is camping at Gulmarg to enjoy heli skiing with the Heli-Ski Company Himalaya Sports, the company that is promoting the game.
Rhodes, who is snowboarding on extreme slopes these days, said, “I will come to Kashmir for skiing whenever I have time in life.”
Rhodes along with former Indian cricket team coach Garry Kristan visited the ski resort last year.
In 1970s, Sylvain Sudan started heli-skiing in the valley and he is known as pioneer of extreme skiing. Sudan stopped to come to Kashmir after his helicopter crashed in a mountain range on the way to Sonamarg in 2007.